Tape Storage and the Internet of Things: An Emerging Duo?

Topics: Data Archive | Information Management: New Thinking

With the emergence of the Internet of Things comes challenges surrounding how data is managed and stored.

When he unveiled Windows 10®1 operating system, Microsoft's Terry Myerson claimed it could "run on the broadest types of devices ever, from the smallest Internet of Things device to enterprise data centers worldwide."

Whoa! "Internet of Things?" Yet another catchphrase?

In case you've been napping, the Internet of Things refers to the sensors and controllers now found in formerly dumb products like thermostats, air conditioners and turbines. Another great example is your own smartphone, as discussed in a recent Tech Target report. It can report your location, orientation, usage, movement and even social and behavioral patterns.

26 Billion Reasons to Pay Attention

The IoT has the potential to become a single vast network, processing data generated from billions of embedded devices. For this reason, the IoT will shake up both data center architecture and the way we store information.

If that sounds a bit scary, it's all still pretty far down the road. Before the IoT comes to fruition, thousands of current protocols and data types need to be standardized to facilitate more effective data exchanges, according to Cristian Borcea of the New Jersey Institute of Technology in a recent Information Week article.

Still, data from embedded sensors is entering the enterprise. And with it comes challenges to data storage that are similar to mobile devices in the workplace—just on a much larger scale. The amount is staggering. According to Gartner, we will have 26 billion devices connected to the Internet by 2020—not including PCs, smartphones and tablets.

Consider These IT Challenges

As your IT managers prepare for the IoT, bear in mind these potential challenges:

  • Your enterprise must store IoT data securely, but also keep it available for periodic analysis.
  • Sensors and controllers will increasingly impact every aspect of your business, providing monitoring, control and analysis.
  • You'll need to develop new procedures to use the new data without reducing your enterprise efficiency or exceeding its storage capacity.

Back to the Future With Tape Storage

To meet the challenge of billions of devices feeding operational data into your enterprise, storage design may integrate data protection into the archive process, according to commentary in Network Computing by IT analyst George Crump. He suggests using a tape-integrated NAS solution, one with a disk or flash cache in front of a large tape library. This setup could provide high-performance access for analytics processing—plus excellent protection and long-term retention. An enterprise could make copies to multiple tape devices offsite.

For backing up moderate amounts of data, cloud backups could provide fast retrieval and flexibility without the need to purchase new storage equipment.

This approach is similar to a traditional tiered data system: Expensive, fast storage would live in Tier One, intermediate data in the cloud could reside in Tier Two, and long-term, inexpensive storage would occupy Tier Three.

Another aspect of tape backups, tape vaulting, excels as low-cost, secure, long-term storage. This can be a great asset for managing the vast data stores IoT will generate. There's no practical limit to the amount of data you can store on tape at offsite locations. When it's needed for further analysis, you can move the data back onto faster storage systems.

Storage must evolve as traditional devices gain intelligence and the ability to communicate. But by forming a reliable foundation, tape media offers an effective, inexpensive solution to the rising tide of IoT data.


1 Windows is a registered trademark of Microsoft Corporation in the United States and/or other countries. All other trademarks or registered trademarks are property of their respective owners.

Do you have questions about data management? Read additional Knowledge Center stories on this subject, or contact Iron Mountain's Data Management team. You'll be connected with a knowledgeable product and services specialist who can address your specific challenges.


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