Sydney's Stutch Data pitches Fujifilm LTO-9 tape storage over cloud to SMB customers

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Sydney's Stutch Data pitches Fujifilm LTO-9 tape storage over cloud to SMB customers
Richard Stutchbury (Stutch Data)

Sydney-based Stutch Data is pitching one of the oldest data storage technologies over one of the newest, telling SMB customers that tape is better for them than the cloud.

This comes after the data storage specialist secured the first Australian shipment of Fujifilm’s latest magnetic tape storage offering, LTO-9.

Unveiled in September 2021, Fujifilm’s LTO-9 has a native capacity of 18TB and up to 45TB compressed, a 50 percent improvement over the previous generation LTO-8 tapes, according to the vendor.

Stitch Data general manager Richard Stutchbury said the storage option would be viable for SMBs that work with hyperscalers such as AWS, Google and Microsoft. He said the technology offers better control of their data and a cheaper way to restore that data.

“We are often told by small to medium customers, we are using the cloud now instead of tape for archive and backup," Stutchbury said in a statement.

"Funny thing is ‘the cloud’ is just a mixture of tiered storage like tape, flash and disk managed by a large cloud service provider, so essentially if you are moving from your own tape system to the cloud, you are just outsourcing it to someone else, and if you need your data back you pay a lot more than storing it on tape in the first place."

“Not to mention losing control of the data and the high cost of restoring data, and the bottlenecks to getting large amounts of data back due to line speed limitations. Cloud service providers still need to make a profit, so they charge a lot less to store data but a much larger charge to restore it.”

Hyperscalers such as Amazon Web Services (AWS), Google Cloud, Microsoft and Oracle use magnetic tape storage as part of their lower tier storage offerings, the technology is mainly used to store cold, archive or little used data to help save costs. 

Patricia Barbeau operates an IBM 729 at Camp Smith in Hawaii (1969). Credit: U.S. National Archives and Records Administration

Stutchbury said Stutch Data chose Fujifilm’s new offering because the vendor is only one of two large magnetic tape storage manufacturers globally (the other is IBM) and the company's internal testing showed the data stored in the barium ferrite tape particles can last for some 50 years.

“Many LTO resellers and users around Australia consider us market leaders in the LTO tape space and therefore we had to ensure we had the tape to supply to the customers who have installed or are installing LTO-9 tape drives,” he said.

He said peace of mind was a major reason many opt for the technology and compared it to insurance. He said IT budgets were constantly being squeezed and customers needed to be careful where they spend each dollar.

"There are security and regulatory record keeping requirements, data can be invaluable for future marketing and customer service system improvements and lastly tape is more environmentally friendly than hard disk, flash or cloud due to its low carbon footprint as it uses no power once it is written.

“It is a unique data storage medium providing an air-gapped isolation system which created it and therefore it can be the last line of protection against cyber-attacks like viruses and ransomware but also human error or a disgruntled staff member. LTO tapes are portable and can be taken offsite and stored in a secure location until required in the future.”

Looking ahead, Stutchbury expects some users to move away from tape storage but that more will adopt the technology, including some for the first time.

“There will be steady growth in the use of LTO tape by cloud providers, government and corporations for archive, backup and nearline storage. In the medium and long term, we should see continued increase in use by the above users and applications but there will be a move back to tape in house for many small, medium and some larger data storage organisations,” he said.

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