General

1. What are the benefits of migrating data from tape media to the cloud?

Your data is one of your most important assets and its correct management will have a material impact on your organization’s performance. For some industries, data presents lucrative revenue opportunities, eg. Oil and Gas sector, Media and Entertainment, Health and Life Sciences. For others like Corporates and Financial Institutions, it can efficiently aid compliance requirements and reduce risk exposure. No matter your industry, the overall benefits include the decreasing cost of cloud storage, the elimination of data loss, faster access to your data and increased utility of data as it can be connected to new applications.

2. What are the minimum and maximum volumes of tape media you work with?

Tape Ark has built a scalable technology stack. We can ingest one tape or one million tapes to the cloud. Volume is our sweet spot, but smaller amounts are more than welcome. We move data fast and en masse – no matter the Tape Media Format or Data Formats

3. How much data can you ingest to the cloud?

Tape Ark’s scalable technology stack can efficiently migrate petabytes of data, so there really is no restriction on the volume. Our purpose is to liberate the world’s largest collections of data from tape, and these include projects that have more than 500 petabytes.

4. I’m convinced we need to migrate our tape bound data to the cloud, how do I get started?

Getting started is easy. Tape Ark’s process is designed so that we do all the heavy lifting for you. We can manage the end-to-end process from warehouse extraction through to data destruction. We’ll keep you informed across all the critical stages, so you know exactly where your data is at all times.

5. Can I get rid of my old tape drives and hardware if I move to the cloud?

Yes. Once all of your data is no longer required on tape there is no need to maintain your hardware or any non-necessary software. It is critical you consider taking the cost of maintenance of this software and hardware into account when reviewing your cost of ownership (TCO) for tape to cloud migration vs just keeping your on premise tape systems.

6. If my data is in the cloud can I apply artificial intelligence (AI) and machine learning (ML) tools?

One of the most exciting opportunities available to organizations who ingest their data to the cloud is the capability to use ML and AI to harness new insights from your tape bound data. At the heart of predictive analytics stands historical context, and that historical context can be found on the legacy tapes of companies around the world. Whether it be blood results, seismic data from earthquakes or weather patterns, the second largest collection of data in the world currently resides on tapes and data starved ML and AI applications around the world need the data to improve their models.

Tape Media Audit

7. What is a Tape Media Audit?

Tape Ark’s unique Tape Media Audit is a comprehensive and valuable part of the first stage process because it gives organizations the insight they need to make critical decisions about their cloud migration strategy and how best to manage their migrated data to reduce costs and get the most out of the content. Companies experiencing issues surrounding the data retention of mixed content can be provided with significant detailed information about each tapes’ content that can enable critical decision making prior to embarking on the final stage of ingest. Tape Ark’s Tape Media Audit is one of our key differentiators and has demonstrated significant value to customers who use our service prior to cloud migration.

8. Why is a Tape Media Audit important?

Customers often recognize there is a percentage of their collection that they actually don’t know enough about to make a decision towards its value to the organization. The Tape Media Audit service is both rapid and cost effective and the information provided has been used to save time and resources for countless companies. The Tape Media Audit provides insights into backup format types, data duplication, the size and content of each tape and the expected cloud footprint.

9. What’s included in a Tape Media Audit?

Tape Ark’s Tape Media Audit is customized based on the size and complexity of the tape media collection. As a base it includes a photograph of each tape and all of its label information converted to text, as well as the breakdown of media types and backup formats. We also identify tape’s likely to suffer from deterioration, the expected data footprint of the content once extracted, and an assessment of duplicate data to be removed prior to ingest. Depending on the scope, a final report and/or a series of recommendations and next steps to efficiently ingest the data to the cloud and relevant storage tiers is provided.

Tape Media

10. How long should I wait to migrate my tapes to the cloud?

In our experience, no more than five years from writing the tapes. It is highly likely that during that five year period that new tape drives and software will have been adopted by the organization and this could lead to tapes being orphaned and inaccessible by modern systems.

11. Do tapes suffer from deterioration?

In particular any tape that is greater than five years old needs to be considered a candidate for migration. However, just about any tape that is greater than 10 years old will start to show signs of potential data loss. A key test for organizations with massive tape collections is to review whether or not the tape drives that wrote the tapes are still in production. If they are not in production, then the tapes are vulnerable to being orphaned and not having access to the tape drives that created them. Tape Ark’s Comprehensive Media Audit can evaluate your collection and recommend an approach to migrate at risk tape media.

12. Are there certain types of tapes that are at high risk for deterioration?

The tapes that are at most risk are 9 track tapes, 8 mm Exabytes, 4mm DATS, DLT and SuperDLT tapes, and LTO1 through LTO3 tapes (amongst others). Any organization that no longer has the drives capable of reading the tapes in their collection should act quickly to migrate their content.

13. What types of tape media do you work with?

As specialists in tape backup and restore solutions, the team at Tape Ark has the expertise and skills to handle tapes created with almost any format encapsulation. We have you the right data reformatting and tape drives to get the job done, irrespective of the format of your tapes. The wide range of tape media formats we handle can be found at Tape Media Formats.

14. What are the risks if I continue to store data on tape media beyond the recommended period?

There are two material risks. Firstly, data loss and its inherent value within the organization eg. one of a kind data or data having been retained for compliance. Secondly, orphaned data – data sitting on tape with no way to access the data as the tape drives are obsolete. In both scenarios, the costs to the company can be significant.

Data and Formats

15. Is it possible to recover data from legacy tapes if they have deteriorated?

Tape Ark has extensive experience and proprietary processes for recovering data from deteriorated media. We have completed work on tapes from the late 1960’s to present day and know how to handle tapes that are broken, suffering from Stiction, have oxide loss, are reverse wound, etc. It is important that you have tape media and data format experts involved when restoring data from legacy tape media otherwise you risk data loss occurring.

16. Is it possible to restore data from superseded data formats?

Yes. Tape Ark data experts can format conversion from older formats on a daily basis using its own proprietary format conversion software.

17. Which data formats can you restore?

Tape Ark can restore a wide range of formats. You can find a complete list in Data Formats.

18. Can you restore data to the cloud without access to the original software that created it?

Tape Ark uses its proprietary conversion software to convert formats from a wide range of vintages and software providers. You can find a complete list in Data Formats.

19. Do you have to restore the data to have it copied in the cloud?

As a means of pure data preservation, tapes can be copied bit for bit into your preferred cloud platform and left in their original format without any conversion being undertaken. Migrating bit for bit without any format decapsulation is a simple and effective way to ensure that your data sitting on your tape collection is preserved for future use. Any format conversion can be done at a later data en masse using various cloud technologies. Even though a tape is potentially still encapsulated in its backup format, some of these datasets can still be searched without the need for conversion.

20. How does Tape Ark manage compression and encryption?

Tape Ark can manage tapes that are compressed and/or encrypted. There are different types of hardware and software encryption in the backup industry. Provided that the organization still has access to the decryption keys, then access to the data is straightforward where it has been encrypted. Compression is typically done at the drive level, although some compression from software applications can also be present.

21. Is it possible to apply analytics tools to our tape data once it has been uploaded into the cloud?

In fact, migration for the purpose of applying analytics, AI and ML is one of the leading reasons that we see from companies interested in ensuring they get maximum utility from their data.

Cloud

22. Which cloud platforms do you work with?

Tape Ark is a technology partner for AWS, Google Cloud and Microsoft Azure, and has also worked with other clouds including Wasabi and Backblaze to name a few.

23. Do you have a preferred Cloud Partner?

Tape Ark is cloud agnostic – this means we work with all the major public cloud platforms in the interests of our customers. As some cloud platforms have tools better suited to solve customer problems, we are happy to work with you to make the best decision for your data.

24. Which cloud is best for archive data?

Tape Ark believes that the customer should be given the choice of cloud platform that best suits their use case. Tape Ark is cloud agnostic and we are a technology partner for the world’s leading cloud platforms; AWS, Google Cloud and Microsoft Azure.

25. I haven't chosen a cloud platform yet, can you help?

Absolutely! We have great relationships with all the major public cloud platform providers across the globe. We work in the interests of our customers first. Based on your project requirements and outcomes, Tape Ark can help you to accurately identify your cloud footprint through our Comprehensive Media Audit and advise how best to evaluate a suitable cloud provider.

26. How does cloud storage compare to physical tape storage?

When you’re looking at the comparisons between the two, it’s important you evaluate how your organization interacts with your data now and is expected to in the future. Key things to consider include; speed of data access, management overheads, scalability, ability to add modern features such as advanced search and AI, data durability, speed of recovery and disaster response, automatic technology refresh, and future proofing. Tape Ark can assist you develop a business case so that it is clear and informed of the benefits and risks associated with remaining with your current storage approach or moving your data.

27. How does cloud compare to tape in terms of cost?

If you take the complete total cost of ownership (TCO) of leaving your tapes in an offside storage vault, compared to migrating your data bound tape to the cloud, then removing the hardware from your data center and the maintenance and support costs, cloud storage in many cases is far cheaper. Importantly, once your data is no longer sitting in physical form, on a tape, the data is not at risk of deterioration and never needs to be migrated to other media as this is managed seamlessly by the cloud platform. So when considering the cost of the cloud one should also take into consideration the future costs (savings) of tape that have been alleviated as a result of using the cloud.

28. What is an ‘air gap’?

The concept of an ‘air gap’ was introduced by the LTO consortium and offsite tape storage industry. An air gap is a cyber security measure for securing a computer network by physically isolating it from other networks, such as the public internet or another unsecured local area network. It is a way to protect data stored on tape based storage systems, providing an air gap that is actively thwarting attempts by cybercriminals to compromise production systems, in those that would otherwise be vulnerable to ransomware attacks.

29. Are there benefits to having an ‘air gap’?

We believe there are no benefits to having your data disconnected from current networks. Air gapping diminishes productivity, reduces accessibility, it requires ongoing costs for implementation and maintenance and stifles innovation and progress. Organizations investing in tape media for long life storage is a bet against technological progress and risks their digital innovation programs not reaching their full potential.

Virtual Tape Library

30. What is a Virtual Tape Library (VTL)?

A Virtual Tape Library is essentially made up of virtual tape drives, virtual tape slots (like those found in a robotic silo) and virtual tapes. Converting an on-premise physical tape backup system to a cloud based virtual tape repository can be done by using a VTL. It is both simple and extremely cost effective to use these systems to remove on premises infrastructure. In addition, it can save significant running costs on power, cooling and maintenance for typical physical hardware installations.

31. Can a VTL eliminate the hardware in my data center?

100% it can. A VTL can eliminate tape drives, tape libraries and robotics, plus the need to manage physical tapes within data centers. This can save companies on maintenance (both hardware and software), as well as the continued consumption of tape media through migration refreshes.

32. What kinds of tape media can be virtualized?

Tape Ark can virtualize any kind of tape media in any software environment no matter how old. You can find a complete list in Tape Formats.

33. What type of backup and restore software works with VTL technology?

Almost all contemporary backup and restore software applications will work with VTL technology. Amazon Web Services (AWS) has a comprehensive virtual tape library subsystem that Tape Ark can configure and manage on behalf of customers. This allows customers to use an agnostic virtual tape library, meaning they will no longer be fixed to using any particular company’s VTL.

34. Do all clouds offer a VTL solution?

Not at this stage. Not all cloud providers offer a VTL solution. Tape Ark can use a third-party application for VTL emulation on any cloud, however, AWS is the only cloud platform with a VTL subsystem inbuilt.

35. How do I virtualize my tapes with Tape Ark?

Virtualizing your tapes with Tape Ark is a simple process. After sending your tapes to us, Tape Ark will perform a Comprehensive Media Audit on the media to determine formats, compression, encryption and the total cloud footprint expected for the content. Once the ingest approach is agreed, Tape Ark moves each physical tape to the VTL using its mass ingest system. After ingest and quality checks are performed, account credentials are released to the customer to access their VTL.

Security

36. How does Tape Ark keep customer data secure?

Tape Ark has a range of both digital and physical security measures in place from building alarms to encryption of data in transfer and at rest.

37. Does Tape Ark store or retain any data once it is ingested to the cloud?

Once we have completed your cloud ingest, all data is removed from our internal systems.

Media, Broadcast and Entertainment

38. What formats can Tape Ark migrate to the cloud (both hardware and software)?

Tape Ark specializes in bulk data migration from storage management systems common within the broadcast industry. These include systems built around Stornext, SAM-FS, Xendata, DIVArchive, TSM, Atempo, SGL Flashnet and many others. Underlying data formats are often TAR or LTFS based, however are sometimes entirely proprietary; we specialize in the latter. Data tape formats in these systems are typically LTO or T10000D, and we handle these at massive scale, however, we will migrate any magnetic data tape format.

Tape Ark also has capacity for the digitalization of common broadcast formats such as the Betacam, DV, and HDCAM families, along with archival services we can provide for older formats such as Umatic, 1” and others.

39. What type of metadata can Tape Ark collect from my data when ingested?

Along with generating a cryptographic hash of each file, Tape Ark collects extensive technical metadata either during ingest or as part of the extraction process. This includes information such as codecs, duration, resolution, framerate, wrapper, tracks, encoding application, bitrate, etc. Other metadata, such as timecode, or descriptive attributes (e.g. language or program information) can also be extracted if they have been embedded in the file. We additionally will assist in linking files back to a master database/asset management system, which will usually hold the bulk of any descriptive or administrative metadata.

40. Is it true that Netflix streams from the cloud?

Yes. The Netflix on-demand streaming service streams out of the cloud just as Disney Plus, Stan, Amazon Prime, HBO, Hulu, and Sling do. If you are a broadcaster and not leveraging the cloud, we can help you get started quickly!

41. What is the benefit of hosting Media in the cloud over tape?

The two primary reasons we see media and entertainment companies migrating their content to the cloud is for accessibility and preservation. Firstly, with the growing demand for on-the-go streaming services and the need to have quick access to content, tape as a storage solution is simply no longer suitable. Secondly, the cloud prevents deterioration and loss of content. Many of the collections we see in this industry are large and contain tapes from many vintages. The cloud provides an excellent evergreen solution for media content.

Oil and Gas

42. What formats can Tape Ark migrate to the cloud (both hardware and software)?

Tape Ark can migrate almost any tape media format to the cloud including 9 track tapes, 8 mm Exabytes, 4mm DATS, DLT and SuperDLT tapes, 3590, 3480, 3592, and LTO1 through LTO8 tapes. For a full list visit Tape Formats.

43. What is the benefit of hosting seismic data in the cloud over offsite storage of tapes?

There are a number of benefits of hosting seismic data in the cloud. Moving data from tape to the cloud eliminates the need to maintain legacy hardware and software because the cloud is an evergreen archiving solution, therefore capital costs are eliminated. The cloud also provides easy and fast access to the data on a global scale within a few seconds. One of the most profound benefits today is that the cloud offers a wide variety of cloud-enabled artificial intelligence and machine learning tools that can be seamlessly applied to gain new insights faster, reducing ‘time to insight’ and in a scalable and automated way that can never be achieved from tape.

43. Are any other oil companies using the cloud?

Almost all major oil companies around the world are now embarking on a journey to migrate their massive quantities of data to the cloud. By utilizing Tape Ark’s unique Tape Media Audit service, oil companies can significantly reduce the cost of their cloud ingest and eliminate duplicates and other unwanted material from their collections prior to ingest.

44. How does Tape Ark gather metadata from projects?

From oil and gas data, Tape Ark captures a wide range of metadata of all seismic and well formats and creates JSON manifest files that can be loaded into the cloud. With this data, these manifest files can be used to join the content to GIS platforms or other internal databases within the oil company. Because the data all reside on disk when it is in the cloud, multiple passes of the data to generate and add metadata are simple and cost-effective. Building a detailed metadata system for your seismic data is simple and can be redone at any time should you find you wish to enhance the metadata.

45. What type of metadata can Tape Ark collect from my data if it is ingested?

Tape Ark captures a wide range of metadata from oil and gas related content. For seismic data, this includes survey name, line name, FFID, shot point, CDP, processing types, location information, header details, file sizes, ownership information, and many others. For well data, it includes well log types, curves, depth information, etc.

46. If data is in the cloud versus tape, is it faster to gain access?

Absolutely. Data stored in the cloud is far faster to access than it is from tape. It is not uncommon for access to be cut from several months to several minutes for data that has been previously stored on complex media.

47. Do government bodies take electronic submissions directly from the cloud?

Today, not many government bodies take electronics submission from the cloud. However, it is expected that during the year 2021 through 2025 most governments will shift to receiving content directly via a cloud submission. With the advent of the OSDU platform, oil companies will easily be able to perform their government’s submissions efficiently.

48. Can Tape Ark ingest data to the OSDU platform?

Yes. Tape Ark can ingest data directly to the OSDU platform for oil companies providing all manifest files required by the platform. Tape Ark is a Gold Member of OSDU.

Corporate Backup

49. What formats can Tape Ark migrate to the cloud (both hardware and software)?

Tape Ark can handle almost all tape formats and software formats from the backup and recovery industry. These include Backupexec, Netbackup, Tivoli Storage Manager, Commvault, ArcServe, LTFS, IBM Spectrum protect, and basic formats like TAR and CPIO. A complete list of tape formats can be found at Tape Formats.

50. If I want to move to a new backup software using the cloud, what do I do with my old tapes in the old format?

For companies that are maintaining numerous legacy systems, because they have not found an alternative way to store their data, Tape Ark has created several services, particularly for old tapes, that provide companies with maximum flexibility, cost-effectiveness and allows for businesses to focus on today’s problems, not yesterday’s.

51. How does Tape Ark gather metadata?

Tape Ark can gather large volumes of metadata and can customize that capture to suit the needs of its customers. Whether it be simple things like file names, file size, and directory path, or more complex things, like the actual content of files, spreadsheets, and email databases we have a variety of suitable solutions. Tape Ark can do this at speed and scale leveraging Lambda functions running in the cloud as data is transferred to the cloud.

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The Maverick Mindset
Knowledge is power – but only if the knowledge is accessible. To move forward we must look back, understand the data we have and start thinking how to utilize it – this is a big data frame of mind.

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