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November 28, 2018

Did Amazon Just Kill Tape Storage?

"If you've ever had the joy of managing tape, it's no picnic"

By CBR Staff Writer

AWS has unveiled a new cloud-based storage service priced at a phenomenally low $1 per terabyte (TB) per month – the equivalent to 728,177 floppy disks, or the entire monthly data output of the Hubble Space Telescope (which generates 10TB annually).

The service, dubbed Glacier Deep Archive, is intended for data that is only needed infrequently and at $0.00099/GB/month costs less than on-premises tape storage, AWS CEO Andy Jassy said at the Re:Invent conference in Las Vegas Wednesday.

AWS promises 99.99999999999 percent durability for the data. Jassy promised data would be accessible “within hours, rather than days”.

deep glacier

Glacier Deep Archive: The End of Tape? 

The death of tape has been proclaimed before, but the tape storage industry has thus far shown no sign of disappearing; innovations on the aging technology have been continuing, with throughput rates and capacity continuing to improve.

Tape, its advocates say, is cheap, secure (offline), resilient and energy efficient and is still home to much of the world’s data. Dropbox, for example, earlier this year announced that one quarter of its “Magic Pocket” (storage infrastructure) would be be built on shinged magnetic recording (SMR) drives by 2019.

Read this: Dropbox Bets the Farm on Shingled Magnetic Recording

An annual tape media shipment report detailing year-over-year shipments showed a record 108,457 petabytes (PB) of total tape capacity (compressed) shipped in 2017, an increase of 12.9 percent over the previous year.

glacier deep archive

AWS CEO Andy Jassy

What those figures look like 2019 (when Glacier Deep Archive rolls out) to 2020 is an open question.

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“We have a lot of customers with gobs of data,” Jassy said in his keynote at the AWS conference. “And these are pieces of data that are even less frequently than what people access on Glacier.” (AWS’s existing data archiving service).

He added: “People today are managing that with tape. If you’ve ever had the joy of managing tape, it’s no picnic…”

AWS’s existing Glacier archiving service comes with benefits tape can’t compete with , like query-in-place functionality, allowing users to run analytics directly on archive data at rest.

At a later press Q&A, he suggested the benefits might tempt some tape users to free up their real estate: “Tapes break all the time, they degrade, it’s a lot of work and people don’t like doing it. If you can unload that undifferentiated heavy lifting to someone who can do it more cost-effectively, that is a very attractive value proposition.”

He added: “What’s changed over the past couple of years is that companies are wanting to make use of data like never before; lots of this data is not accessed often… but even if you don’t access it frequently, there’s a lot of learning in that data. Deep Glacier will allow you to not have to manage tape libraries and… run analytics and ML on your archives.”




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