LTFS and Disaster Recovery

Transforming the concept of DR with tape as we know it

LTFS 2 Technology: Segment 8


So one of the things that is interesting about tape is that people have thought about it historically as an important medium due to its low cost but also its portability and its ability to serve as a really good medium for disaster recovery purposes because you can write data to it. You can eject out of a library. You could send it somewhere. You could put it in truck somewhere. And you could store it in a secure vault.

How does that work with LTFS? When you think about data stored on LTFS, how does that change or modify the concept of disaster recovery with tape as we know it today?

Interesting question. So in terms of longevity of data storage and being able to stick cartridges on the shelf and forget about them, LTFS behaves exactly the same way as existing LTO solutions do. In this scenario of disaster recovery, for me I think the key difference is that if you're using data tape today for disaster recovery you're probably using tape-management software or a backup software suite to get data onto your cartridges.

I absolutely agree. I mean, tape-management software is really how DR is sort of managed today.

Right, so the key point for me is with LTFS, you don't need to get your tape-management software up and running and get its database operational before you start restoring the rest of your infrastructure. With LTFS, you potentially can pick up a single cartridge that you've, ahead of time, labeled to indicate what was on the cartridge, mount it in a single-drive edition of LTFS, and drag-and-drop the files you need to restore the critical parts of your infrastructure directly from the tape.

Now if you have large numbers of LTFS tapes that you are using to store your disaster recovery backup set, there's still a need for software that will keep track of what is stored on each tape for convenience reasons and so that you can have a staged plan with ordering of restore tape 1, restore tape 2, restore tape 10. Those are the backups of the most critical systems out of all of your critical systems.

But with LTFS being a self-describing format, being a format that behaves like a file system because it is a file system, you are not tied to your disaster recovery software as the gating factor to accessing the cartridges. And for me, I think, that's the key thing. In fact, conceptually you could use a disaster recovery piece of software to prepare a whole bunch of tapes using LTFS or using a proprietary format as your disaster recovery set.

And you could store that set of tapes on the cartridge on a shelf for the day when you need to access them. But you could then, also, take the database and all of the metadata that your disaster recovery software relies on and you can store it on an LTFS volume because you can just drag-and-drop it back in place when disaster strikes. And so the ability, in my mind, to be able to be restoring your disaster recovery system dataset, database that your disaster recovery system uses immediately with actually needing to bring that recovery system up online is, I assume, a valuable way of reducing the time to operations when all hell has already broken loose.

The Speakers:

Michael Richmond
Jay Livens