Your Mission: Archiving in the Age of Big Data

The IT data explosion is being measured in terabytes, petabytes and even zettabytes. But measurements aside, is your organization keeping pace with a scalable, efficient data archiving plan?


Did You Know? A new $200 million government research program aims to bolster the tools and techniques needed to glean discoveries from huge volumes of data. The goal: find new ways to make the federal government more efficient.


The increasing ease of creating, duplicating and distributing digital information has only served to increase our data load. For instance, new data mining techniques and data analysis tools are making it easier than ever for businesses to gain fresh insights from seemingly tired old data—and create servers full of new information in the process.

For the most part, it’s a good thing. But no matter how you feel about the proliferation of data, your enterprise must deal with it. Consider these crazy statistics:

  • IDC reported in 2011 that the world was set to generate or duplicate more than 1.8 zettabytes (aka 1.8 quadrillion megabytes) of information. This represents a growth factor of nine in just five years.
  • The world’s information is doubling every two years. By 2020, civilization will generate 50 times the amount of information created today.

So when we say “big data,” we’re not kidding. How much of it will be generated by your business this year? What about next year? More important, how will you back up, store and archive it all?

Storage Options: Examine the Tradeoffs

The more data you create and store—whether it’s for analysis or to satisfy compliance demands—the more you’ll need to focus on smart archiving solutions.

Sure, you could simply keep adding disk arrays to your networks. But once your business team does a cost-benefit analysis, that idea may quickly evaporate as economically untenable. (You probably wouldn’t dole out 4G-enabled iPads to every employee, either, even though that could make them more productive.) Storing all your data on disk just doesn’t make sense, because you won’t need to access much of the information you’re maintaining on production systems.

Another potential path is storing your archived data in the cloud. This approach could indeed solve some of your massive storage problems. But enterprises have proceeded cautiously on the cloud front, and many have been slow to adopt such services because of concerns about cost, security, lack of control and data availability.

Back to the Future: A Tape-Based Solution

It could very well be that this new problem of big data storage is best addressed by a very traditional technology.Tape is a great solution to handle data that must be kept for lengthy periods—especially information that falls under compliance requirements.

Here’s one big benefit to consider: Tape is less expensive than disk, which is no small consideration as storage demands skyrocket. A 2010 Clipper Group study found that the total cost of ownership for disk-based information is more than 15 times that of tape backups. What’s more, each generation of LTO tape cartridges has roughly doubled in capacity. Now weighing in at 1.6 terabytes, LTO-4 Ultrium tape drives hold eight times the capacity of the first LTO tape drive, launched in 2000. With the help of a qualified data backup and recovery partner, tapes are easy to move, secure and access.

data backup and recovery partner can also implement tape identification, data migration and tape destruction plans to help you track your data throughout its lifecycle and dispose of it correctly when the time comes.

The bottom line? In this new era of big data, tape is ready for the challenge of handling large data sets.

The experts agree. The growth of tape as a long-term archiving solution seems certain. Enterprise Strategy Group says that tape’s lead in the backup sector is expected to increase during the next several years, with a 45 percent annual growth rate through 2015.

The Big Picture for Big Data

Looking to the future, it’s likely that IT managers responsible for managing big data will look for hybrid solutions. They may find it advantageous to put a small slice of mission-critical backup on disk on local servers (the most expensive option) and use some cloud-based storage, while parking up to 90 percent of data—those rarely accessed records—on tape. In this scenario, tape can provide petabytes (and even zettabytes) of backup at the lowest possible cost. This can help your organization keep budgets in line as data continues to proliferate.

Yes, it may seem like a “back to the future” solution. But tape has the capacity, the longevity, the security and the total cost of ownership you’ll need to meet your long-term data archiving needs.


Iron Mountain Suggests:
Tape Management From Start to Finish

The Iron Mountain® Tape Identification service helps you make sense of your growing tape archives. Use it to:

  • Identify the information on legacy backup tapes
  • Reduce your risk of penalties or fines for failing to respond to a legal discovery or compliance event
  • Develop a defensible tape retention plan with the confidence that you’re keeping only the data you need

Once your tape ID process is in place, pair it with Iron Mountain® Tape Migration and Destruction services to establish a defensible, documented and repeatable process to prepare, handle, transport and destroy your electronic media, either at your data center or at an offsite destruction facility. 


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

Related Content:

Prepare for Anything: The Importance of a Data Restoration

Playing by the Rules: A Compliance Checkup

Carving a Path to Energy-Neutral Technology