Tape and Cloud: More Than a Marriage of Convenience


How To Make Tape And Cloud Technologies Work For Your Business

Multiple Challenges Compound Your Data Protection Requirements

With growing regulations around information management, litigation on the rise and massive quantities of data being generated every day, organisations need to store and protect large, increasing volumes of data for longer periods of time.

The total amount of data stored by all businesses today has reached an amazing 2.2 zettabytes1 and counting. This explosion of traditional and big data – fueled by social media, mobile and other technologies – has kept concerns about back-up, recovery and archiving in the spotlight.

Businesses operate in a risky environment. Nobody wants to be the next headline in the newspaper. Security breaches, loss of data, inadvertent disclosure and insider threat — any of these could damage your business. To protect your reputation, maintain customer confidence and, ultimately, protect your business, you need to make protecting your information your priority.

The Ponemon Institute’s ‘2011 Cost of a Data Breach Study’ reports reveal that negligence is the cause of around a third of data breaches in the UK, France and Germany.

Meantime, shifting trends related to information management stress the need to adequately support both unstructured data (think tweets, videos and audio) and structured data (think databases, files and email). Stored on site, the related back-up data may not only require added resources to manage it, but also becomes extremely vulnerable to network-based errors or intrusions and disasters of any kind. Under these pressures, securing data, maintaining service levels and responding quickly to requests for information becomes more and more challenging.

The problem is that IT budgets aren’t growing equally to meet these new demands. Stepping up to address them means looking for better ways of handling back-up, recovery and archiving and the right technology to support it.

A Path Forward

Off-site tape vaulting and cloud storage are two of the most popular technologies for tackling back-up, recovery and archiving requirements. Deployed strategically, they can provide a safe, scalable and highly cost-effective way to store data in alignment with related access and recovery requirements. But how can you achieve the maximum benefit, without sacrificing performance or creating undue risk?

Ultimately, it starts and ends with your storage strategy. By building one that treats tape and cloud as complementary assets, you can leverage the best of both worlds, to manage all your data.

Basics First

When it comes to creating an effective storage strategy, it pays to get back to basics. That means reassessing the fundamental ways you use and store data in your organisation:

  • What data are you currently storing, and where is it located?
  • Who needs to access specific information, how often, and for what reason?
  • How long does it take to retrieve data, and how is that impacting your ability to respond to regulatory requests?
  • How well are you meeting your existing service-level agreements (SLAs)?
  • What steps are you taking to protect your data?
  • Do you meet data protection regulatory requirements?

Gaining this comprehensive view allows you to first identify the data you need to save, and then establish a storage hierarchy to tier different data types based on their unique usage and security requirements. Afterwards, you can place these defined slices of data into the most appropriate back-up and storage environment. By doing so, you’ll be able to separate high-demand, need-it-now data from data that can be archived for potential retrieval at some later, unspecified date. This approach slashes the time and effort required to access this business critical data. At the same time, it improves your ability to establish and meet recovery-time and recovery-point objectives (RTOs and RPOs) for all your organizational data.

Understanding what data you have and how it is used over time is essential to your storage strategy. By knowing what data to archive and what needs to be more readily accessed, you can make technology decisions that optimise back-up, recovery and archiving processes.

Evaluating Technology Options

Technology is continuously evolving to provide advanced solutions to support data back-up, recovery, and archiving requirements. But whichever technology you choose – tape, disk or cloud, certain factors always come into play. Is it reliable? Is it cost-effective? Can it scale to support ongoing data growth?

It’s tempting to think that one back-up and recovery medium can serve as a one-size-fits-all solution. Or that the latest technology must be the best. But all trendiness aside, the only real way to know if a solution is up to the required standard is to compare it against other available options.

Take tape, for example. As an off-site back-up medium, tape is as tried and tested as you can get. Yet, some say its demise is underway, with newer disk-based solutions gaining favour. But reality paints a far different picture:

  • Tape remains heavily used by 78 percent of the enterprises surveyed, according to a recent Gartner Group report.2
  • Tape capacity has steadily increased – roughly doubling with each generation to reach its current 1.6 terabytes.3
  • The total cost of ownership for disk-based information is more than 15 times that of tape back-up.4
  • Automated tape systems have a proven reliability of more than five 9’s (99.999%).5

Cloud-based back-up has faced detractors, as well, with most focusing on potential security concerns. However, with end-to-end data encryption and the ability to automatically and continuously protect data as it is created, cloud-based solutions offer a complementary, safe solution for select back-up requirements.

Both tape and cloud technologies have a place in your storage strategy. Determining when and where to use them depends on your unique business and it requirements.

Using Tape Strategically

Thanks to its iron-clad reliability and low-cost, high-performance features, tape has earned a reputation as an incredible workhorse in data centres around the world. That’s why continued use of tape for data protection makes strategic sense in so many ways.

In particular, tape is ideally suited to help organisations like yours:

Recover From Unplanned Events

When threats to data are coming at you from every angle, counting on a back-up medium known for its reliability is a crucial part of your defence. With reliability on the order of two-to-four times greater magnitude than SATA disk drives6, tape cartridges can help you effectively recover from natural and manmade disasters, as well as breaches, viruses, software errors and other security violations that can affect all your networked back-ups.

According to Aberdeen Group research, best-in-class companies that apply the right technology recover 6.5 times faster and will likely lose 40 times fewer dollars as a result of disruptions7. Using tape as a key part of your back-up strategy provides greater protection than relying solely on virtual back-up technologies that leave online, and frequently sensitive, data at risk.

Time and again, tape has proven its value as a reliable method for recovering data in the best and worst of circumstances. Consider this. A major cloud services provider lost thousands of customer accounts due to a corruption, which was then replicated across all its redundant data centres. The only way to recover the data was to call back tapes from Iron Mountain.
If you think your data’s not at risk, think again. In 2011, almost 70 percent of businesses experienced some form of information loss.8

Move Large Volumes Of Data Off-Site – Securely And Cost-Effectively

Operating in the era of big data, your organisation generates tremendous volumes of data every day. Other activities, including mergers and acquisitions or organic expansion, only add to the vast amounts of data requiring effective protection through off-site storage. Tape’s high capacity and portability make it easy to transport terabytes of data. In fact, thanks to linear tape file systems (LTFS), tapes can act like enormous USB drives, providing a simple, practical way to back-up data versus often slow and costly data streaming over the Internet.

Support Long-Term Data Retention

Concerns over potential litigation have many organisations storing data well beyond the time frames required by regulations. The amount of European legislation is growing and with it the financial penalties for non-compliance are becoming more severe. With an impressive 30-year shelf-life, tape provides a robust, inexpensive data storage solution for financial, healthcare , insurance and other heavily regulated firms. That far surpasses the typical 7-to-10-year period for spinning disk, whose always-on technology contributes to notably higher energy costs.

Archive Non-Active Data

Tape also provides efficient, cost-effective and reliable storage for non-active, rarely requested data. It allows you to keep valuable enterprise data secure, while accommodating a reasonable two-to-three-minute turnaround time to pull tapes from libraries and access data when needed.

Using Cloud Strategically

As a complementary technology, cloud-based back-up and archiving can also play an important role in your overall storage strategy. Using cloud technology for your back-up and archiving activities offers a flexible, scalable, pay-as-you go approach to help keep costs down, while providing a less resource-intensive way of managing related processes.

Enable Fast Retrieval Of Back-Up Data

When you have short RPOs and RTOs, cloud technology provides an excellent back-up and recovery solution. It enables you to move your data off-site and retrieve it virtually instantaneously, so you’re better positioned to consistently meet your SLAs.

Provide An Easy-Access Protected Archive

If you need fast access to sensitive data, a cloud-based archive could be your best bet. For example, large organisations create huge volumes of image-based data every day, and while they may not need to refer to it for years, they can retrieve this data immediately when it’s stored in a cloud-based archive. In cases like this, the speed of data delivery can make all the difference in providing proper customer service. And it can more than compensate for cloud’s somewhat higher price-point compared to tape-based archive solutions.

Gain A No-Fuss Back-Up And Archive Solution

Back-up and archive solutions that require manual intervention can put a strain on organisations with limited IT resources. Using a cloud-based solution increases automation, and enables you to perform continuous back-ups without requiring the physical handling of back-up media. This is particularly attractive to small- and mid-sized IT departments with few staff, but who have the same mandates to protect information.

Using Tape And Cloud For Business Advantage

Tape and cloud can address your most critical back-up, recovery and archiving requirements. To craft a strategy that balances their benefits, evaluate your data access and recovery capabilities against the cost of providing them via tape or cloud technology. By doing so, you’ll be able to deliver real efficiencies and cost savings to your enterprise.


What is the total cost of supporting your back-up, recovery and archiving functions?

  • Tape-based back-up and recovery offers a more reliable and economical option than disk-based solutions.
  • While cloud-based solutions can be more expensive than tape, they offer fast, automated back-up and archiving that helps reduce IT’s workload.


Which situations require immediate access to data, and when is near-instant access less critical?

  • Tiering and storing data based on access demands is more efficient and cost-effective.
  • If you need information in a snap for any reason, cloud technology is king.
  • Meantime, tape offers low-cost, long-life, high-capacity storage for long-term data retention to support compliance, as well as archiving of non-active data.


What level of risk are you willing to accept when it comes to recovery and meeting rpos and rtos?

  • Keeping your back-up data on-site puts you at increased risk from disasters.
  • Moving data to an off-site cloud- or tape-based back-up and recovery environment based on usage patterns gives you a secure way to recover it, so you can minimise disruptions and meet SLAs.
  • Adding tape can also provide a last line of defence in a networked world where errors, viruses and breaches can spread like wildfire.

Take Action To Fast-Track Your Tape And Cloud Strategy

Now that you’ve seen how both tape and cloud technologies can help organisations meet specific back-up and archiving requirements, you may be ready to incorporate them in new or improved ways in your enterprise. But getting the right strategy in place is essential.

In order to start the process, it’s recommended that you consider the following steps.

  1. Understand Data And Usage Patterns Before Implementing A Solution
    This underscores back-up and archiving basics. But the key thing to realise is that there’s no magic approach to managing your back-up and archival data. In the end, most companies find that a mix of different solutions brings the best results. And that’s why understanding the precise makeup and use of your data is so critical.
  2. Move Your Existing Tape Off-Site
    Often, on-site tape libraries are left unprotected in data centres, where they waste valuable space and contribute to additional expense. In other cases, they’re housed in offices without proper climate controls. This puts data recoverability at risk and can potentially impact a company’s ability to get back up and running should disaster strike. Moving tape to a secure, environmentally controlled off-site location frees up floor space and offers greater protection for your enterprise data.
  3. Target Smaller Projects First
    Starting small helps you gain the expertise you need to maximise your investment in tape and cloud technologies. Pick specific projects and assess the impact of any newly introduced technology in your IT ecosystem. As you become more familiar with how a particular technology works, you can make plans to strategically extend its use based on your experience in pilot projects.

We Can Help

  1. I Am In The Cloud And I Am Looking For A Tiered Approach To Data Back-Up
    For businesses who are already working with a cloud solution provider, you may find that a tiered back-up and recovery approach utilising tape and cloud services gives you greater recovery capability than a cloud-only approach. We can support your back-up, archiving and recovery plan with a tape service tailored to the needs of your business. We provide a comprehensive tape back-up service to help you best manage large data volumes, support long-term data retention and archive non-active data.
  2. I Am Not Yet Ready For Cloud Based Solutions And I Am Looking For A Tape Only Solution
    For businesses that are looking for a tape only solution, we provide a comprehensive service for transporting, storing, managing and retrieving your back-up data on tape.

Off-Site Data Protection Service

  • Your back-up media will be stored and transported in ideal conditions to preserve and protect the media and the data they hold.
  • Iron Mountain people follow best-practice processes and go through rigorous background checks, screenings and formalised training, so you can be confident they know how to safeguard your information.
  • A secure chain-of-custody provides audit trails and reports that will satisfy your internal and external auditors and help you comply with policies and regulations.

So With Iron Mountain Off-Site Data Protection You Will Be Able To:

  • manage your data protection and disaster recovery processes consistently across your sites;
  • stay in control, track and locate your back-up media at any time;
  • find exactly what you need, exactly when you need it;
  • get fast access to your data back-up should the unexpected happen.