IBM’s LTO-8 – Building a Bright Future for Tape Storage
Hang around the IT industry long enough and you notice that rumors of the impending demise of some product or class of products are always making the rounds. Sometimes they’re honest opinions expressed by canny industry-watchers. More often they reflect the hopes of desperate vendors trying to poke holes in competitors’ cash cows and/or businesses.
Most importantly, they’re generally wrong.
Why do I say that? Because if you examine the evidence, you find that technologies tend to die for one of two reasons. The first are vendor-led extinctions where a vendor decides to pull the plug on a given technology (or the market pulls the plug on the vendor). For example, HP’s 2000 acquisition of Compaq and its subsequent adoption of Intel’s Itanium CPUs resulted in the company killing its own HP-UX chips, as well as Compaq’s Alpha and Tandem silicon.
Technologies also die when they fail to keep pace with alternatives or lose the faith of core customers. Data storage technologies provide a rich smorgasbord of examples, including the appearance/disappearance of 8-inch, 5¼-inch and 3 ½-inch floppy disks, and Iomega’s Zip and Jaz drives, all of which were driven under by decreasingly costly/increasingly popular HDD and CD/RW technologies.
Which brings us to tape storage, particularly data center-focused tape technologies. Those have been under a death-watch since 2002 when EMC introduced its Centera platform, the industry’s first HDD-based solution for data archiving, long a tape bastion. More to the point, despite surviving well beyond competitors’ hopes and expectations, tape storage also continues to evolve as evidenced by the new generation LTO-8 offerings just announced by IBM.
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NOTE: This column was originally published in the Pund-IT Review.