If you did not have to use tape, you probably wouldn’t. Tape fills a gap that up until recently disk storage could not.
Tape was created for two main reasons. The first was for overflow storage. Data volumes exceeded what HDD’s could store and the need for free available disk space forced our hand to use tape. The second reason was as a transport mechanism. Tape was used as a transport mechanism to share or transport data from one place to another or from one company to another.
Today, the two main reasons for the original use of tape are now under direct attack by technology advances that simply make tape less relevant. The cloud is getting closer to the data centre and in many cases the cloud is in fact becoming the data centre. Add to that, the increasing bandwidth of the internet and new satellite constellations coming on line that will increase the speed and availability of data transfer and you can see the end of the “Tape as a transport” tag line waning. Closing the geographical distance between data centre and cloud and increasing the speed of transfer means that tape as a transport is slowly losing its competitive advantage. If a company could share, retrieve, or move data from one place or company to another with the click of a mouse, it is safe to say that they would. The cloud now offers unparalleled transport, replication, and sharing and also makes tape both less useful and far more painful.
In addition, the cloud from AWS, Google, and Azure is effectively an infinite storage container. If every company that had overflow storage or archiving needs could access disk based storage, then they would – there will be some hardcore guy’s out there who would say – “I would still use tape”, but there would be only a few of them, and with each passing month there would be even less of them.
So what is tape to do? It will do its best to keep increasing its capacity and speed, but at the end of the day, technology that no one wants to use but simply is forced to use because of lack of choice is always doomed and ripe for disruption. Keep an eye on our friends at Seagate Technology as they work on the edge to help close this gap with us.