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COVID-19 and Tape Storage – Why it’s Time to Move on

By April 2, 2020March 8th, 2024Blog

Just a few short months ago, if IT companies had been encouraging the wholesale eradication of tape backup in favour of cloud storage on the basis that a global pandemic hit and almost one quarter of the earth’s population would be under some form of lockdown, it would probably, rightly, have been filed under scaremongering.

Now that scenario is unfortunately a reality and in these extraordinary times of confinement, remote working and other adjustments that organisations have had to make almost overnight, some things we used to take for granted suddenly seem a little distant.

In short, replacing tape storage with cloud-based solutions has quickly moved from being a concept that popped up on social media and IT publications, to something that every company needs to get familiar with in order to maintain access to data – fast.

This article looks at tape storage and the impact of the COVID-19 crisis and why it’s time to move on.

The drawbacks of tape

Tape storage is among a number of procedures and systems that are coming under particular strain during the lockdown, and one that has really shown its age. Whilst tape storage is still touted as the lowest-cost solution for safeguarding data by some, the pitfalls have been rapidly exposed by the current crisis.

Before COVID-19, tape storage was a trusted and time-tested method for long term retention and archiving of data, and with its seemingly low cost-per-gigabyte it was a sensible option. From a compliance perspective, tape’s long shelf-life made for easy and cheap archiving, and the data physically sat offline meaning it was out of the reaches of any cyber-attacks.

However, we have been inundated in the last few weeks with customers calling to tell us about how they are struggling to swap tapes over, unable to physically locate and access tapes to restore their data, and as a result aren’t able to remove data off site to satisfy insurance and regulations in line with their data retention and disaster recovery policies.

You get what you pay for

On a practical level, the confinement and social distancing regulations of the COVID-19 crisis have made life very difficult for a lot of tape users. When a restore is needed, it can be difficult to locate the correct tape in a physical facility that may be nowhere near where the IT team live. Even if your tape storage is managed by a third party, chances are they are operating with restrictions or worse, it’s inaccessible unless you’ve paid for additional services such as document scanning. The underlying message from our customer’s is that access isn’t guaranteed.

The reality is, inconveniences that related to tape just a few weeks ago are now making it impossible for organisations to manage data effectively today. FACT; organisations that are going to survive require data agility, fast and instant access to data, efficient data management and convenient, highly flexible restoration capabilities. Is it now really possible to argue that tape provides this? The customers that have contacted us over the last 3 weeks don’t think so – a serious matter if they are unable to protect their data in line with legislation, policy or regulations and worse still unable to recover it when the business needs the data most.

ORIIUM Commvault Cloud Store

Cloud-based storage and archiving provides a highly resilient, scalable, secure and modern solution to these problems. ORIIUM’s native Commvault Cloud Store is simple, cost-effective and designed specifically for storing Commvault data offsite. It allows customers to retain important or critical data offsite yet always online and available as part of a broader disaster recovery or long-term archiving strategy and without the costs and hassle associated with traditional tape or disk-based storage solutions. Perhaps most importantly, it allows for seamless protection and recovery of data from anywhere, to anywhere.

How can ORIIUM help?

We are currently helping a number of customers who are unable to physically manage and rotate their tape/media backups. In certain cases this is leading to failed data protection operations (due to primary storage reaching capacity) or in the worst cases, losing data or inability to perform data restores altogether.

We are helping them solve this problem by giving them emergency access to our UK based Commvault cloud storage which instantly presents a quick to deploy, native and always-available storage target within our certified Commvault environments.

Accredited for use for both Public Healthcare data and other heavily regulated industries such as financial services, emergency services or utilities, ORIIUM Cloud Store offers significant benefits over both Microsoft Azure blob storage and AWS S3 / Glacier.

Given the current challenges, we are offering all Public Healthcare customers 10TB target storage free for the next 3 months and corporate customers 5TB to help as best we can.