Tape holds its place

Disk technology for near-line storage is gaining ground, but tape continues to have a pricing edge for archiving compliance and other fixed-content data.

"Fundamentally, it's a cost question," said John Woelbern, director of OEM marketing for Sony Electronics Inc.'s storage business. He said tape has a cost-per-gigabyte edge for archived information stored off-line. Organizations, he said, "can scale tape to very large capacities, to hundreds of terabytes. To do that with disk, you have to have fully configured systems, and that gets quite expensive as you scale that up."

Tape products cost as little as $0.58 per gigabyte, while Serial Advanced Technology Attachment (SATA) disk drive products cost more than $2 per gigabyte on average, according to an Enterprise Storage Group analysis released earlier this year.

Although disk technologies such as ATA and SATA are expanding, Peter Gerr, senior research analyst at Enterprise Storage Group, said they are not necessarily replacing tape. Rather, Gerr contended that end users are "returning tape [and optical] to [their] intended function — long-term archival with low retrieval rates and slower performance requirements."

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