And tape walked quietly from the spotlight

The world of backup is changing before our eyes

Someone asked me just a few weeks ago, "Do you think this time disk will replace tape as the primary target for backup?" My response? Absolutely.

While old-timers may scoff at this idea, the world of backup is changing before our eyes. Having worked at one of the largest data processing companies in the world, I witnessed first hand as the company replaced not one but over 20 Sun/StorageTek Powderhorn tape libraries that it had in place for decades with disk libraries. Considering that the tape libraries were paid for and that the disk libraries were a net new purchase, I knew at that moment that whatever value proposition tape had for the last 20+ years was over.

Now, does this mean tape is dead? Of course not. But the combination of technologies like SATA disk drives, grid architectures, de-duplication, removable disk cartridges and asynchronous replication -- coupled with their faster speeds and higher reliability ratings -- are simply too much for tape to withstand any longer.

But what makes this combination of technologies absolutely lethal for tape is that these technologies drive the price point of disk down to a per gigabyte price that is equal to or below tape. And if executives care about nothing else, it is cost and risk. So if disk costs less than tape and is less risky, the only information left for the operations staff to provide to executive management is the time it will take to implement.

The price for disk is not yet below tape for every business, but the day when disk will be cheaper is getting closer, not farther away. Each passing month, more reasons surface that make backup to disk more viable and, with more products in the pipeline, expect to say goodbye to tape as a backup's primary target yet in your career.

Jerome Wendt is the president and lead analyst with DCIG Inc. He may be reached at

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