The ninth wave of tape storage innovation

By | 3 minute read | October 26, 2020

Storage cost and data protection are two top storage challenges.[1] Tape-based data storage solutions and technology help clients to address both of these critical modern challenges, which makes tape a powerful solution in the storage market today

Tape can help enterprises of all types and sizes address their need for low-cost, high-volume data storage. And tape offers ways to help mitigate, and even thwart cyber threats through the use of tape “air-gapping”. Just as importantly, innovation within the tape-based data storage platform has remained strong. IBM has never lost sight of the value and the promise of tape-based storage. Our ongoing commitment to this technology, and the storage solutions it provides, has recently been reaffirmed with the release of new Linear Tape Open (LTO) Ultrium Generation 9 technologies and offerings.

IBM intends to offer LTO 9 Ultrium Tape Drive technology and media that complies with the LTO Consortium Generation 9 specifications across the full suite of IBM Tape Automation Solutions in the first half of 2021[2]. The new IBM LTO 9 drives and supporting systems are designed to help increase tape’s ability to provide cost-effective, secured storage solutions to meet the full range of rapidly evolving 21st-century requirements for storage of less active data.

IBM is a strong tape storage vendor. This success is the result of more than six decades of commitment to the technology, plus the adoption and execution of a product strategy based on innovation, continual improvement, communication with customers and business partners, and a focus on quality.

This advantage is certainly recognized by IBM Business Partners:

“IBM LTO tape technology provides a secured, cost-effective solution for our customers requiring on-premises archival storage as part of a multicloud strategy,” notes Rusell Schneider, Storage Director of Jeskell Systems, a long-time IBM Storage Business Partner. “Tape offers significant benefits in cost and access time complementing public cloud storage and offering “air-gap” security with protection from cyber-criminals and ransomware threat actors. With the LTO Ultrium Generation 9 announcement, the data stored on each cartridge grows by 50 percent while performance increases 11 percent, which strengthens IBM’s award-winning tape technology and portfolio of systems, software and libraries.”

IBM LTO Ultrium tape technology is designed for heavy demands posed by the storage of less active data in modern use cases such as the Internet of Things (IoT), big data analytics, artificial intelligence (AI)-driven applications, media and entertainment, genomics, video streaming and digital archiving. This tape technology is enhanced in new IBM LTO Generation 9 tape solutions that are designed to help provide increased capacity, performance, cyber resilience and cost efficiency:

  • IBM LTO Ultrium 9 data cartridges provide 50 percent more capacity (18 TB) than LTO 8 cartridges with an 11 percent faster data rate (400 MB/s)[3].
  • IBM LTO 9 solutions can reduce Total Cost of Ownership of your tape library by 39 percent[4].
  • IBM LTO 9 technologies now provide cost-effective, secured data retention for containers in Red Hat OpenShift environments through the integration with IBM Spectrum Protect solutions.

>> To learn how much you could potentially be saving with IBM tape technology, check out our personalized estimate on our TCO tool here.

As stated by David Hill at Mesabi Group, “IBM built the next generation tape for the hybrid cloud with LTO 9 technology. By offering data immutability with WORM and the physical air gap offered by tape, plus AES-256-bit encryption of data at rest, IBM LTO tape maintains its strong position as a cost-efficient, secured storage solution.”

In fact, tape:

  • Is leveraged by 67 percent of current users for archiving, and 57 percent of current users for backup[5]
  • Has greater potential to meet predicted capacity growth over the next decade than HDD technologies[6]
  • Is 86 percent less expensive than disk storage in a 10-year TCO comparative study dated 2018[7]
  • Is about two orders of magnitude more reliable than disk[8]

The latest IBM LTO Ultrium Gen 9 tape technology is designed to offer significantly higher storage density than previous generations, helping to lower the cost of storing large data volumes. IBM tape drives and libraries provide multiple layers of data protection. And IBM Spectrum Archive, a member of the industry awarded IBM Spectrum Storage family [9] of software-defined solutions, offers solutions that can make access to data on tape as easy as disk.

Tape remains a leading solution in addressing modern data storage needs.[10] IBM LTO Ultrium Gen 9 continues tape’s innovation with the aim of providing organizations with faster access, lower total cost of ownership (TCO), greater security, longer life, and more functionality. Complementary technologies such as IBM SDS solutions increase their compatibility, integration and capabilities with tape. And even more industries, business use cases, and leading enterprises find that tape isn’t living in the past; it’s innovating toward the future—just like they are.

>> Learn how IBM Tape storage solutions can offer you a cost-effective solution for your modern data storage needs here.

[1] Source: Enterprise Strategy Group, Data Storage Trends in an Increasingly Hybrid Cloud World, March 2020, [2] Statements by IBM regarding its plans, directions, and intent are subject to change or withdrawal without notice at the sole discretion of IBM. Information regarding potential future products is intended to outline general product direction and should not be relied on in making a purchasing decision. The information mentioned regarding potential future products is not a commitment, promise, or legal obligation to deliver any material, code, or functionality. Information about potential future products may not be incorporated into any contract. The development, release, and timing of any future features or functionality described for IBM products remain at the sole discretion of IBM. [3] IBM, Miyamura et al., IBM LTO 9 Tape Drive Full Height Model Performance White Paper, October 2020 [4] IBM analysis comparing 3-year TCO of new 200PB library with 18 LTO 8 drives against new 200PB library with 18 LTO 9 drives” [5] ESG Master Survey Results, 2020 Technology Spending intentions Survey February 2020 [6] INSIC, INSIC Technology ROADMAP 2019, July 2019, [7] ESG, Alex Arcilla, Quantifying the Economic Benefits of LTO-8 Technology, August 2018, [8] INSIC, INSIC Technology ROADMAP 2019, July 2019, [9] The Storries, Storage Awards, 2019 Winner: Software-Defined Storage Vendor of the Year, June 2019 and CRN 2020 40 Coolest Software-Defined Storage Vendors, April 2020 [10] LTO Consortium, 2019 LTO tape shipment report reveals record breaking tape capacity shipments, July 2020, businesswire