GigaOm Sonar Report for Object Storage on Tapev1.0

An Exploration of Cutting-Edge Solutions and Technologies

Table of Contents

  1. Summary
  2. How We Got Here
  3. Report Methodology
  4. Overview
  5. Use Cases
  6. Considerations for Adoption
  7. GigaOm Sonar
  8. Market Landscape
  9. Analyst’s Take

1. Summary

Enterprises want to keep more data, for longer periods of time, at affordable costs, in a way that it’s accessible when necessary. However, it can be difficult to find long-term storage for ever-growing data sets that’s cost effective and highly available, so organizations often have to prioritize one consideration above the others when comparing vendors.

Data storage in an enterprise generally looks like the pyramid in Figure 1, with the bulk of the older data in cold storage, which is typically cheaper and less available.

One of the earliest forms of cold data storage was tape, with capacity ranges now starting at dozens of petabytes and going upward. Retrieval time can be slower than with other technologies, but the total cost of ownership of this type of infrastructure can be very compelling.

Tape is also cost effective, but it can be difficult to manage and access. Data management is usually performed using backup and archive software (a prerequisite to managing tape libraries), and access takes significantly more time compared to other media. Tape also faces other challenges: it’s designed for linear access, and even though it has good throughput, it doesn’t cope well with small files.

Today, object storage has become one of the most common options. Object storage works just as its name suggests: it stores objects, each of which consists of data, metadata, and a globally unique identifier that lets the object be found. The metadata is customizable, which makes object storage extremely flexible.

S3 is now the dominant object storage protocol. Following AWS S3’s success in the public cloud, most object storage vendors competed to capture the private-cloud object storage market. At the outset, they all worked on general-purpose object stores with the idea of building an on-premises replacement for S3.

When built around inexpensive hard disk drive (HDD)-based nodes, these solutions offer an interesting $/GB ratio. However, organizations want object storage solutions that are even less expensive and more efficient in terms of power consumption while still offering an optimal datacenter footprint.

Many cloud providers now offer object storage solutions that solve this problem: for example, S3 Glacier and similar alternatives from other cloud service providers, such as Azure Blob and Google Archival Storage, are available. These solutions come with their own set of challenges, however; retrieval costs may be quite high. Also, retrieval times from deep storage can be very long—as much as 48 hours.

These ongoing challenges highlight why object storage on tape solutions are becoming increasingly popular. These solutions offer the best $/GB ratio, particularly for long-term storage. They have no issues with scalability and offer very long-term retention guarantees, thanks to extended LTO consortium roadmaps related to tape models and drive compatibility.

The primary challenge with deploying object storage on tape is getting started. Installations are usually extensive: they start at multi-petabyte level and can grow beyond hundreds of petabytes.

Figure 1. Storage Tiers

About the Gigaom Sonar Report

This GigaOm report is focused on emerging technologies and market segments. It helps organizations of all sizes to understand the technology and how it can fit in the overall IT strategy, its strengths, and its weaknesses. The report is organized into four sections:

Overview: An overview of the technology, its major benefits, possible use cases, and relevant characteristics of different product implementations already available in the market.

Considerations for Adoption: An analysis of the potential risks and benefits of introducing products based on this technology in an enterprise IT scenario, including table stakes and key differentiating features, as well as consideration on how to integrate the new product with the existing environment.

GigaOm Sonar: A graphical representation of the market and its most important players focused on their value proposition and their roadmaps for the future. This section also includes a breakdown of each vendor’s offering in the sector.

Near-Term Roadmap: A 12 to 18 month forecast of the future development of the technology, its ecosystem, and major players of this market segment.

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