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Today’s data driven companies continue to recognise the value of ease of access to legacy data collections. Whether it be to apply cloud enabled technologies or for cost efficiencies. However, for many organisations this is a complex and resource intense process.

So how do you migrate potentially millions of legacy tapes, some in a fragile condition, some in obscure and obsolete formats to the cloud with predictable cost and timing? How do you navigate ‘data as a hostage’ commercial terms often imposed by the offsite physical storage records management industry, that are reluctant to relinquish your tapes and impose eye-watering penalty withdrawal fee?

Tape Ark has been working with organisations to gain access to their legacy data as efficiently and inexpensively as possible, while at the same time adding additional value to the data, where possible. Our technology solutions service model puts the needs of the end user first and encourages software vendors to focus on developing compelling SaaS products, which attract customer loyalty rather than non-collaborative proprietary closed systems.

Tape Ark’s comprehensive Media Audit is a programme specifically designed to help companies, worldwide, access their data holdings, (both on tape and in private clouds) and plan out the most cost effective way to consolidate the data in readiness for well-informed decision making.

Objectives of A Tape Media Audit

Now, migrating collections of data to the cloud – especially from large tape-based media collections - is commercially viable, but also fraught with uncertainties if you’re not experienced. Some of the questions organisations struggle to answer of their collection are:  

  • How many tapes they have?

  • The volume of data is on the tapes?

  • Can the tapes be read?

  • How to limit any data loss?

  • How to identify duplicate data?

  • What penalties will apply to picking tapes from offsite storage?

  • How to minimise exit storage costs?

  • Which cloud storage tiers provide the best balance of cost and service level that meets our data maturity?

  • How to forecast the cloud storage costs.

The Tape Media Audit Process

Tape Ark views an initial data audit as perhaps the most important aspect of a project that will determine the long-term success of a cloud storage strategy. Almost all activities in a digital transformation to the cloud hinge on knowing what you have to migrate, and if the audit is done correctly, should deliver significant and long term benefits to the overall project. Tape Ark has performed data audits for significant legacy seismic collections over the past 18 years across the globe with our largest having been done for a major Italian oil company with data on three continents. Geographic spread, numerous storage provider locations and vendors, and decades of old tapes present no shortage of concerns for companies in understanding their collections. However, undertaking a comprehensive media audit should deliver the following benefits to alleviate those concerns:

  1. Confirm with a high degree of accuracy exact volumes of media

  2. Confirm with a high degree of accuracy not only media counts, but also the types of media in the collection – distinguishing between every type and sub-type of media such as LTO1,2,3, etc. Knowing if an LTO is a version 1,2,3, or 6 is extremely important in predicting the volume of data that tapes are likely to have recorded on them. As an example, LTO1 has a capacity of 100Gb, while LTO6 has a 2.5Tb capacity (25 times more data). Knowing which tapes are which can help reduce surprises for cloud ingest timing and ongoing storage fees.

  3. The use of automation and Artificial Intelligence to conduct the audit correctly and quickly can produce stunningly accurate and in depth results that aid in numerous activities moving forward.

  4. Provide a current and accurate stock take of all media throughout the project via a project dashboard that also provides insights into data volumes expected for cloud ingest, at risk media, country of origin, etc.

  5. Using AI will immediately identify and characterise the most at-risk media so that project planning can be done to decide on tape ingest priorities and sequence order.

  6. Identify duplicate media across all tapes (even those on separate continents and in separate storage facilities) to reduce the potential of duplicate data being ingested into the cloud, reduce costs, and help increase price certainty.

  7. Allow a company to assign the right media types to the most efficient transcription partner on capacity by media type. (if a provider has no 9 track work on, you can send the right kind of tapes to the right provider to speed up the work flow, and reduce the costs.

  8. Save significant costs by not having to pay for ongoing storage during the project.The cost savings will likely cover the costs of the audit itself.

Tape Ark’s efficient media audit empowers companies to understand the potential data volume prior to migrating media collections to the cloud, plan for the relevant cloud storage tiers and sequence tape ingest based on known media risk profiles. Duplicate data is identified to reduce total cloud storage volume and price certainty is achieved. Tape Ark’s low cost media storage model finally gives companies the ability to understand their valuable legacy collections by offsetting the exorbitant ‘picking’ and exit fees charged the tape storage providers.  

The Tape Ark media audit is applicable all customers looking to migrate their legacy tape collections, regardless of which cloud platform the data will be migrated to including Microsoft Azure, AWS, Google Cloud Platform, and other cloud providers.

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