Closing the Data Centre-Tape-Cloud Gap

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.

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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.

To read more on the benefits of migrating data from tape to the cloud, please click here.

“Data trapped on tape is data we’re not using”

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Following Tape Ark’s recent announcement of signing a global partnership agreement with data storage giant Seagate Technology, this post delves deeper into importance of liberating data from ageing tape. It explores how the collaboration and pairing of expertise and resources will enable organisations around the world to restore and preserve their valuable, latent data more efficiently. 

Through the use of new edge hardware solutions, previously inaccessible data can be liberated and moved to the cloud, then put to work using technologies such as AI, ML, industry 4.0 and other analytical tools, allowing it’s inherent potential and worth to be exploited for both commercial and discovery gains.

“In the new Data Age — the age of IT 4.0 — data is continuously being created at endpoints, often processed at the edge then transmitted to the cloud to be analysed as part of still-larger sets of relevant data; the migration and activation of all available data sets is crucial for driving digital transformation — and for surviving and thriving as part of the IT 4.0 revolution.”

“To solve our most urgent problems, humanity needs all our data at hand”

To read the full article, written by Seagate’s John Paulsen, please click here.

To read the full Tape Ark media release of the partnership announcement, please click here

Almost Half A Century Since Man First Stepped Foot on the Moon

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Next year in July 2019 we will be marking the 50th anniversary of NASA’s first manned lunar landings.  Back in 2009, Tape Ark Founder and CEO Guy Holmes was working on restoring some invaluable and historical data from those moon landings relating to “Moon Dust” with renowned Australian scientist Professor Brian O’Brien.  It is still a great story to watch – and not just because Guy actually has some hair back then!! 

“When mankind first went to the Moon, there were many potential problems to overcome, but one that received little attention was dust. It turns out that lunar dust is more active and more dangerous than anyone realised. And it took an Aussie to work it out, as Dr Paul Willis reports.”

Click here to watch the full Episode - Guy Holmes comes in around 9 min in but the introduction to man’s journey to the moon is well worth watching too.

Download from the ABC archives……..

Searching for Garden Gnomes and Exploration Data

Searching for Garden Gnomes and Exploration Data

Sometimes it takes a little while for things to sink in. In this instance when I first heard it, I knew there was something profound about it, but was not sure what. The “it” was a comment made at the recent PPDM Conference in Perth. It was a comment made by Doris Ross of Woodside Energy about a seemingly trivial way of doing work, that with hindsight should have significant implications for our industry – SO LISTEN UP! 

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Tape Ark's 3D "Deep Diving into Data" Podcast Currently In Production

A big shout out to everyone PPDM Perth Workshop last week who participated in Tape Ark’s inaugural podcast “Tape Ark 3D – Deep Diving into Data”.  Guy Holmes & Kyle Evans are in the Magic Studios podcast studio this week and  post production work is well under way.  Stay tuned!!  A big thank you to AWS and Petrosys – our podcast sponsors and all interviewees Trudy Curtis (PPDM), Andrew Owen (Geoscience Australia), Ted Fletcher (Woodside), Jess Kozman (Woodside), Doris Ross (Woodside), and Chris Schmid (Unearthed).

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What does data loss look like?

Magnetic tape data decay, data degradation, data rot, data deterioration or just plain ageing legacy tape data.

It doesn’t really matter which term you use – it all ultimately can result in data loss.

Do you know what it looks like? Click here to see what tape data loss actually looks like and the difference between a clean and a damaged tape. You can literally see data loss being recorded as the tape is read.

Saving the World’s Second Largest Collection of Data - DAMA Sydney

Saving the World’s Second Largest Collection of Data - DAMA Sydney

Tape Ark Founder and CEO Guy Holmes is honoured to have been invited to address the Australian Data Management Association (DAMA) Sydney Chapter next Tuesday 8th May and will be presenting a talk entitled “Saving the World’s Second Largest Collection of Data”. 

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The Good, The Bad, and The Ugly in the Oil Sector

For the old timers in the industry, the good the bad and the ugly brings up memories of the 1966 Spaghetti Western starring Clint Eastwood. The movie became known for its unique use of long shot and close-up cinematography, as well its distinctive use of violence, tension and stylistic gunfights (kind of sounds like most analyst reports on the oil price).

In the movie, Clint Eastwood is a gun slinger (“the good” from the title), competing against “the bad” and “the ugly” to find buried gold in New Mexico.

I caught a 10 minute segment of this movie the other morning at 2am while researching technology trends and completing my design of a 10Tb storage platform that can be etched onto the back of a grain of rice. It instantly dawned on me that the movie and its characters were a pretty good allegory for the trends we are seeing (or have seen) in the data storage industry. 

As with all commercial technology ideas, there are good ones, bad ones and downright ugly ones. In fact many can become all three given the right amount of time, or some can be all three at the same time.  Take the Ford Pinto for instance. It was good in that it was kind of sporty, it was bad because it was not the most reliable car and it was ugly because it had the tendency to explode when involved in a rear end collision.  

For the oil industry, and the technology it uses to store its valuable data, I thought I would take a look at the past and present to see which main storage technologies found the buried Confederate gold in New Mexico and which ones were slain in the gun fights of time.

The first cab off the rank is the first commercial storage medium ever produced in the industry - the humble reel to reel tape. This one has become all three over time. 

Good - in that it was a revolution that kick started a new industry and opened new avenues for sharing data.  Bad - because with hindsight it did not hold much data in comparison to the technology we see today.  And ugly - because in many cases the tapes have disintegrated, putting at risk the valuable data recorded on them. 

The second wave of storage medium in the industry came in the late 1980’s when it moved to closed cartridge media. The fundamental design of this media type is still in use today and the evolution from 3480 to 3590 to 3592 was seamless and driven by a single manufacturer (IBM). To be fair it is a stretch to find the bad and the ugly in this technology. Even after 25 years, the medium is stable and almost always readable.  When push comes to shove, I can always find something bad to say about anything – but on this occasion I am going to follow my mom’s advice  - “if you don’t have anything nice to say about something, then don’t say anything at all”.

Running in parallel to developments in tape storage and vying for oil industry dollars was disk storage. This one was good, bad and ugly all at once and over time. It was good in that its capacity and speed quickly overtook tape allowing rapid access to data without the need for a tape drive or additional hardware. But it was also bad in that it became unreliable when put through the sorts of read/write pressures put to it in the oil and gas industry with its large files and continuous use patterns. It took some time, but it has also eventually become downright ugly due to the sheer number of manufacturers of this storage medium trying to create lower cost higher performing devices that now seem designed to fail.

I think it is safe to say that the reel to reel technologies of the 1980’s were killed in action  - with their last words before Eastwood took them out being the horrible high pitched scream of a severely deteriorated tape passing over a tape drive head.

Hard disk technology has seen its share of fights as well, but continues to battle on the reliability vs cost battle fields of New Mexico.

It is only closed cartridge technology that in my book  has found its way to the chest of Confederate gold – both metaphorically and commercially.  Whilst I believe that tape storage in general is doomed to lose ground in the coming years to cloud, it is only so because of competing technologies, and not because it has major faults.  Tape Ark is here to help on this front.

I better wrap this up. The garage just called and said my Ford Pinto is ready for collection.

As published in The Australian Society of Exploration Geophysics - Preview Magazine Issue 177.


Guy Holmes

Guy is a graduate of Geophysics from Macquarie University in Sydney, and has completed a Masters of Business Administration (Technology Management) from Deakin University in Melbourne. 

Guy is a successful leader with a proven track record in the growth of start up and turn around businesses in the IT, medical and information management sectors.

Guy has extensive experience in the oil and gas, minerals, medical, and information management industries in Australia and the Asia Pacific and is a highly regarded entrepreneur.

Guy’s experience includes:

• Sourcing Venture Capital
• Acquisitions and Sales of businesses
• Commercial technology development
• Research and development for internal and external products
• International business development
• Product and service marketing, development, and management
• Multimillion dollar contract negotiations with government and private sectors (International and domestic)
• Development of business and marketing plans, strategy documents , and other executive level documents
• Industry leader in information management, data management, archiving strategies, legacy technology with a particular focus on the management of oil and gas and minerals information and data on a global scale.
• Operational management and refinement to seek maximum profitability
• Grant applications, financing arrangements, and seeking alternative funding

The results that Guy has achieved in his varied roles stand testimony to his abilities to:

• Manage organizational resources to achieve results
• Develop and drive technology solutions to achieve business goals
• Grow businesses that are both start-up and/or stagnant
• Successfully land, negotiate, perform and complete projects both domestically and internationally

Guy has been married for 24 years and has five children. He enjoys playing ice hockey, travel, mountaineering and spending time with his family and reading. 

Today's Tape is Not Dead, But Yesterday's Tape Certainly Is

What the release of the new LTO-8 Tape drive really means.

As time has gone on, the life span of new technology (including tape drives) has shrunken.

Technology that one used to buy and use for 10 years, is now only lasting 2 years before being superseded and made redundant by newer, faster and “better” technology. Tape drives and tape media are no different.

For those of you jumping up and down with excitement about the release of the new LTO-8 tape drive (yes – all three of you), don’t get too carried away. While the drive does offer increased capacity and speed, and whatever else the manufacturers want you to believe, it also marks the end of yet another generation of your backup data. Tape drive manufacturers used to make an attempt to have backward read compatibility for at least 2 generations of tape drive, but not so with the LTO8, which only has 1 generation read compatibility.

So – if you have LTO-6, 5, 4, 3, 2 or 1 tapes, add them to your list of dead and inaccessible media if you upgrade to LTO-8 or be sure to factor in the costs of having additional and redundant legacy drives on standby just in case. 

Some companies offer data migration services from older LTO media to newer LTO media, but it isn’t free, it’s expensive and it sure as hell was never factored into the TCO calculations they shared with you when you bought your first tape drive.

As a result of the decreasing lifespan of tape technology the volume of “archive” or “legacy” data in storage is increasing at an alarming rate. The time frame between the data being active and accessible on current tape technology to it then becoming vulnerable and possibly unreadable on a superseded technology is shrinking. Archive data used to be data that was 10 years old, it is now 2 years or less in the tape world.

There is a solution to this tape life (death) cycle - the Cloud. Yes – LTO-8 has its place, but if you really want to solve your legacy backup tape and hardware issues, then I suggest you review the material here.

#NoMoreTape #TapeIsDead #TapeZombies