Toigo’s Take: IBM Edge 2012 Linear Tape File Systems Interviews

Jon Toigo

Jon Toigo

While no shortage of articles, columns and blogs have hit the airwaves, print media and Intertubes in the wake of IBM’s excellent Edge2012 conference, underscoring the value proposition of IBM’s active data compression technology (manifested today on products like Storwize V7000 and SAN Volume Controller), my enthusiasm remains somewhat dampened.

Yes, I contributed to the noise around the compression announcements.  I moderated a webcast about the IBM compression technology story just this past Wednesday.  (The customer testimonial was compelling and probative and the IBMers on the call were excellent ombudsmen for their wares, as always.)  But, still, I want to be clear.

I see compression (and deduplication), at best, as tactical technologies. More precisely, I see them as weapons for fighting a delaying action in the struggle most companies face with respect to unmanaged data growth.

Compression (and dedupe to some extent) have the potential to slow the rate at which we fill our disk systems, but they ultimately do little-to-nothing to turn the tide, or to bend the cost curve in storage over the long term.

Ultimately, the combination of unmanaged data growth, combined with the store-everything-on-disk dogma (Omnia in Orbis) that has become so dominant in the marketecture around storage today, will lead to a predictable outcome:  storage acquisition expense will soon dwarf all other IT hardware spending in contemporary data centers.

And just as inevitably, increasing the complement of disk will ultimately run afoul of rising energy costs and will plow headlong into the coming energy crisis created by an archaic and over-saturated power distribution grid that is already creating issues in the New England Corridor, Northern and Southern California, the St. Louis grid nexus, and elsewhere.

To deal with the challenge effectively and permanently, our solution must be strategic and long term.  If compression and dedupe deliver tactical advantage, it is by delaying the deployment of more disk capacity and by buying us time to do what must be done:  coming up with a way to manage the glut of data that is finding its way into the data junk drawer at an accelerating rate.

That’s a major reason why I believe that the most important technology demonstrated at the IBM Edge 2012 event was not compression, but rather an up-and-coming  mass storage technology leveraging magnetic tape and the Linear Tape File System (LTFS).

I am going to be writing about this on and probably in several other venues in the near future.  Here is some of my source material:  an interview I was generously granted at Edge with the top LTFS mavens at IBM.

Linear Tape File Systems Interviews: Watch the Videos

Linear Tape File Systems Interviews: Watch the Videos

The videos below are a bit noisy at first, shot as they were in the social media area of the Edge event.  But, I hope you will find it useful in understanding the history and future direction for LTFS-augmented tape storage from the perspective of IBM.  I will contribute my commentary in a later post, and hope to add interviews with others in the industry who are offering complementary technology to realize the Tape NAS vision, including Spectra Logic and Crossroads Systems.

Follow-up blogs to come…




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