After 20+ years in software engineering, the transition to the Cloud Storage is creating some incredible opportunities. For example, the concept of “Path to Cloud” as apposed to “Path to Tape” is revolutionizing business. Traditionally, tape drives have been used for long-term backups. Government laws, like the Sarbanes Oxley Act of 2002, require certain types of data to be saved for 7 years. Using disk drives to fulfill this requirement would require a large number of disk drives, and therefore are prohibitively expensive.
Magnetic tape has been the only traditional long-term option. Now I know that tape drives seem somewhat archaic in this modern computer age. But there really has been no alternative. But how about the new kid on the block, Cloud Storage? Instead of “Path to Tape,” why don’t we use “Path to Cloud?”
Magnetic vs. Cloud Storage
What are the advantages of Magnetic Tape? Namely that it is an established technology. It has been around for quite some time. But what are its disadvantages? This media consists of slow, expensive drives. In addition, this is a dead technology.
Market share for tape companies is continuously and steadily falling. Essentially, there is no new development in this area. A final problem is that tapes have to be shipped to a repository for long-term safe storage. Check out Iron Mountain; you’ve seen the trucks.
Cloud Storage is a fast growing technology. There are a number of providers – Amazon, Google, Microsoft, etc. Shipping off site is not an issue since connectivity to the cloud is via the Internet. And there are no mechanical parts to mess with.
To be fair, there are some disadvantages to Cloud Storage, namely security and performance. Public cloud providers will NOT guarantee security. Private clouds will solve this problem for now. Be that as it may, this problem is a hot item in the cloud, one where private clouds and better network technology are addressing it.
So in conclusion, it is much easier to use Path to Cloud than Path to Tape. You do not have to deal with physical media and you have connectivity with the universe. Until Cloud Storage issues (performance and security) are resolved, Path to Tape will probably stick around for a while. But I predict in 5 years or so that Path to Cloud Storage will become much more widely excepted, and Path to Tape will go the way of the dinosaur.