With HPE LTO media, you get a virtuoso performance because we know the score.

With HPE LTO media, you get a virtuoso performance because we know the score.

Has data protection gone mainstream?

It may seem a strange question to ask, but during a recent discussion about ransomware on a rush hour BBC Radio 4 news programme in the UK, I suddenly realised that the depth and detail of the coverage was of a much greater sophistication than I am used to hearing. Phrases like 'Recovery Point Objective', 'deduplication' and 'application downtime' came thick and fast as the journalists interviewed the experts on What Could Be Done.

Of course, to some extent there is an element of 'all hands on deck' in this, and I don't expect the current fascination with dedupe to last (even my Mum is asking about data protection!), but the WannaCry incident in May 2017 has dramatically increased awareness of the importance of having a comprehensive and effective data protection strategy. That is a shift in perception that I hope is permanent and enduring, amongst the general public as well as IT professionals.

Ransomware and tape

This week's HPE Storage announcements come at a timely moment, therefore, because HPE has some strong solutions to bring to customers' attention to help tackle the challenges that ransomware presents. Earlier blogs in this series of BURAmeter have focused on HPE StoreOnce CloudBank and Veeam integration. Today I want to focus on a different part of the storage portfolio, specifically HPE LTO Ultrium storage media.

Personally, I think it would be a misinterpretation to view the emergence of cloud-based backup services, like StoreOnce CloudBank, as a replacement for tape storage.

First and foremost, CloudBank provides low cost object storage for the long-term retention of backup data which has to be kept available for regulatory or business requirements.

Understanding backup vs. archive

But backup and archiving are not the same thing. Backups stored in the cloud should be regarded as secondary copies retained to recover data in the event of disruption or loss. Periodically, they may even be replaced or overwritten based on RTO and RPO rules. An archive, however, is a primary copy of a data set, preserved intact and pristine for retention or monetization. It should be regarded as the absolute last line of defence, an opportunity to access data at a specific point in time and at a specific moment in its existence. An archive is unique, unalterable, irreplaceable.

Why the HPE LTO Ultrium media specification matters

The WannaCry incident clearly highlights the importance of having multiple copies of data stored on different types of media in different locations. This is the so-called 3-2-1 rule, which we've discussed often during this round of BURAmeter articles and blogs. But for something so important, as a one-of-a-kind archive, you need the utmost confidence in the reliability of your archive media.  3-2-1 is a good rule of thumb just so long as the countdown doesn’t reach zero!

This is where the HPE brand specification for HPE LTO Ultrium media comes into its own.

The essential technology areas of the LTO-7 solution

The LTO logo is an important benchmark, but when it comes to the quality of a tape cartridge, HPE knows - from decades of supporting a huge installed base of tape customers - end users seek assurances of reliability that go further still. That is why HPE has its own, higher, set of quality standards for HPE LTO media.

HPE's expertise covers a number of indispensable technologies that all need to integrate and perform at the highest level: basefilm, underlay, lubricant, coating, calendaring, particle design, slitting and servowriting. To that end, HPE is the only company that forensically examines all the different parts of the media design on a continual basis. Samples from suppliers are tested against the HPE brand specification every month whereas the LTO logo is only renewed once a year.

Comparison of HPE and Competitor Capacity per tape

The value of archive data

Because each tape is relatively inexpensive, it's easy to forget that HPE LTO Ultrium cartridges are advanced pieces of engineering. After all, squeezing 15 TB of data onto a single LTO-7 cartridge requires formidable scientific and technical expertise. But what if that 15 TB is the only one of its kind? Then its value may be priceless.

The 3-2-1 rule is a great and timeless doctrine for data protection but ultimately your data is only as safe as the reliability of the medium it is kept upon. Data may be written in ones and zeros, but you don't want it to become the wrong kind of zero when it matters. If the primary purpose of an archive is to be able to recover a unique copy of your data, it goes without saying that the technology has to be reliable. Otherwise there would be no point making an effort to keep it in the first place. Thanks to the HPE brand specification and testing program, you can be certain HPE LTO Ultrium media will deliver outstanding performance every time. Now. Next year. Ten years from now. Even thirty years into the future.

I just wish the same could be said for my mother's interest in cloud-based data protection!

Andrew Dodd

Andrew Dodd  Andrew Dodd

Worldwide Marcom Manager, HPE Storage Supplies

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