Tape Backup Gets Some Surprising Support

Commentary: A new council want to make sure that consumers don't forget about good old tape

One of the hottest topics in the storage market today is the rapidly expanding role of ATA hard drive products in the enterprise. Significant improvements in ATA, coupled with the disk drive implementations ability to provide impressive storage densities at bargain prices, has made ATA-based products a potential contender to tape-based backup devices.

ATA-based backup systems (sometimes referred to as disk-to-disk backup systems) give IT managers the ability not only to reduce their backup windows but also to accelerate file restoration.

However, tape has some strong—and perhaps surprising—backing.

At Comdex/Fall next week, a vendor organization called the Tape Technology Council (TTC) will be officially unveiled. The TTCs official website has not been launched yet, but, based on what I have read, the mission of the TTC seems to be ensuring that storage vendors and consumers dont forget about good old tape when they start making their next backup purchases.

This strikes me as odd.

Vendors usually band together to tout new technologies, not to protect the reputation of old ones like tape, which seems to have been around since the dawn of IT.

Looking for another oddity? Well, three of the TTCs founding members--Quantum, IBM and StorageTek—currently sell ATA-based products.

Granted, some of the ATA products from these vendors are geared for the nearline storage market, where vendor crosshairs are aimed at optical storage and not at tape. Still, it seems strange that these companies are giving rah-rah speeches on tape while selling ATA products on the side.

So is tape dead? I dont think so. Nor do I think it will die anytime in the near future. Tape is a proven removable backup media, and although its speed and capacity capabilities have not grown as fast as many of us would have liked, its unlikely that IT shops with heavy tape investments will rip it all out to go to disks.

ATA represents competition, and competition usually means great benefits for consumers.

It will be interesting to see in the coming months how these competitors deal with each other, especially since most of the big players are representing both sides.

Whats your backup media now? Will it be the same next year, or the year after that? Let me know at henry_baltazar@ziffdavis.com.