Top 5 Reasons Why Companies Still Use Tape Backup

By January 21, 2021 Modernization

Is this the year your organization finally moves away from tape backup to more modern flexible solutions? If your company is heavily invested in tape backup, it’s understandable if you’re having trouble taking the plunge and moving on from tape. Or maybe you’re having trouble convincing senior management because, well, “If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it.”

You’re not alone.

Companies resist tape migration for reasons that don't exist anymore

So why are some companies still clinging to tape? Here are the top five tape storage “claims” and the reasons why you should ignore them and actually improve your business outcomes.

1. Tape is cheaper

It’s true that tape as medium has lower costs per GB than disk, but as a “previous generation” technology it has hidden costs. Tape still requires secure physical storage and a capital outlay for tape drives and robotic hardware. In addition, you’re probably incurring significant ongoing operating expenses and staff overhead for carrying out tape operations and keeping systems maintained. Don’t leave out those infrastructure and resource costs when comparing solutions.

2. Tape is better for long-term storage

If it’s properly taken care of, tape is really good at holding onto data for long periods of time. But as a physical medium, tape is a more volatile medium that can degrade over time, which means it’s actually less than ideal for long term retention. And missing retention and compliance requirements could cost your business more that just the data in fines or lawsuits.

3. Tape is easier to use and manage

That may be true for administrators that are well-versed in working with tape, but people with that skill set are becoming scarcer by the day. It’s more and more expensive to retain administrators who know what they’re doing, and the lack of knowledge is creating silos in the infrastructure and less visibility into the backup landscape. Plus, using tape often requires manual operations like imports, exports, and even cleaning – and if these tasks aren’t performed regularly, operations can be impacted.

4. Tape is more secure

Traditionally, that’s been true, but modern disk and cloud backup technologies have come a long way on the security front. Cobalt Iron’s Compass enterprise SaaS backup platform, for instance, is able to create immutable backups that can never be directly accessed by administrators. Resulting backups are far more secure than tapes, which can be physically damaged or lost.

5. Tape is more efficient, with more flexible capacity

Again, this may have been true in the past before deduplication revolutionized the disk backup landscape. In fact, deduplication is one of the primary reasons that disk has become more competitive, cost-wise, with tape. Deduplication also enables another great feature of disk backup: replication. While tape requires a human or a shipping service to get it to another location, deduplicated disk backups can be easily replicated anywhere in the world. Also, backing up data to tape and then later restoring it when needed takes significantly longer than disk or cloud restores.

When you are ready to leave tape, migrating doesn't have to be a headache

It can be difficult to migrate away from a tried-and-true backup technology that has served your company well for many years. At the same time, momentum is building for enterprises to leave tape behind, especially as disk and cloud backup technologies continue to mature.

For many companies, it’s not a question of “if,” but “when,” especially if they have a corporate mandate to modernize and unify the enterprise data protection environment.

At Cobalt Iron, we can help ease the journey to modern backup solutions, even if it needs to be gradual. For many of our customers who still have requirements for tape operations, a virtual tape library (VTL) might be the right solution. Our software-defined Compass VTL solution, for instance, delivers on all the benefits of SaaS-based backup: simplified operational processes, accelerated recovery, and drastically lowered storage costs. At the same time, you can use Compass to manage your existing tape operations.

Learn more about migrating tape workloads with Compass VTL.

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