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Sick of tape? Why you should upgrade antiquated infrastructure
Wed, 29th Jun 2016
FYI, this story is more than a year old

Despite the rapid growth of the backup and archive disk storage industry, there still remains many companies battling with their antiquated tape libraries.

NetApp systems engineering director, Matthew Hurford recalls a partner in Australia who's marketing campaign was pretty much to ring up customers and ask them: “Do you like your tape infrastructure?” Of the possible two answers (yes or no), the sheer majority were of the two letter variety.

“I spent 17 odd years in operational roles, and I've managed backup environments for a living - it's not much fun,” Hurford says. “Part of the challenge is that often customers don't understand the true cost of a tape backup environment.

So what are the negatives of a tape library?

Hurford lists a number of cons about the old-fashioned tape library, which include:

  • They take up a lot of data center real estate and can use a considerable amount of power to run.
  • You have to refresh your tape drive infrastructure every four to five years.
  • The current tape drives can only read tapes that are up to two generations older, meaning that for long retention cycles you need to maintain old drives or upgrade your media during the backup lifecycle.
  • Tape media deteriorates with age. With increased retention policies, this can make the data unrecoverable.

“I was talking to a company that does forensic work for the police, and they have to keep their data for 25 years,” Hurford says. “That's several generations of tape that they will have to manage through that backup lifecycle. The cost of using tape media for backups doesn't end at the first purchase – it is costly to install and manage.

How can customers reduce costs?

According to Hurford, NetApp is finding that customers are looking to get away from those challenges, risks and ongoing costs of tape infrastructure. To help customers along this path, NetApp has built a website that offers a free analysis of their backup environment to investigate their potential total cost of ownership (TCO) using their cloud backup solution, AltaVault.

“Because with our AltaVault cloud-integrated storage solution, we're getting up to 30x data reduction and 90% less cost than an on premise solution,” says Hurford. “We deduplicate, compress and encrypt the data all in one stage. You can send it securely to any object-based S3 storage, which fits most of the storage offerings inside Amazon, Azure and NetApp's own cloud-based object storage solutions."

Hurford affirms they've got real world customers in the ANZ market who are getting up to 20:1 data reduction. Agility is a common goal amongst most businesses these days, and NetApp's solution can provide that in spades.

“With a NetApp cloud-based option, a customer only pays for what they use, and they can change provider at any time if they would like to,” Hurford says. “In the future they might not want to run their data centers, they may not want to own tape drives. Moving their backup data to the cloud starts that journey.

How can partners get ahead?

Hurford affirms there is a real opportunity here.

“Often (particularly in an operations team), they're being asked to do more work with less and are being challenged to move to the cloud by CTOs and CIOs,” Hurford says. “This is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity for operational teams to put their best foot forward and say ‘You know what, I think we can move our backup environment to cloud.

Hurford says the other good thing about AltaVault is that customers need to change nothing in terms of their operational practices.

“The way that AltaVault behaves is that it looks like a tape device,” Hurford says. “From a backup product perspective – and we don't care which one of the many hundreds in the marketplace – all you need to do is move where you were pointing the data from the tape library and point it to AltaVault. No changes to your management or backup environment makes it a very easy thing to implement.

NetApp can provide AltaVault as software that you install on Hyper-V or VMWare or as a physical appliance. The software versions can be offered by partners, to their customers with a 90 day evaluation license so they can run a POC to prove how the solution works.

Westcon is currently offering a special promotion of the NetApp solution, with a discount of up to 70% and pricing starting at under $15,000.

Click here to find out more.