Tape is still used by many businesses for storage and backup purposes, despite the availability of more modern technologies such as flash, disc and techniques such as outsourcing to the cloud.
Most, like the Salvation Army, use tape for 'cold' data, that is information which is unlikely to be accessed often, if at all.
"Four years ago we tried to get shot of tape but the economics to do it just didn't add up," said Phil Durbin, Head of IT Systems at the Salvation Army.
"We had to carefully consider the investment as we're a charity, so we're not spending our money, but money our supporters give to us out of their pockets," he added.
Durbin explained that the strategy at his organisation was to put most data onto disc, which worked well until they wanted to improve resilience, which ultimately meant that they needed twice as much tape.
"Then the economics just didn't add up. so we reverted to tape. We are looking at our storage strategy now, and part of that is our backup strategy. If the information can be offline, and well away from any need to access it in real-time, then there is still a position for tape, and we won't lose it in our backup strategy," said Durbin.
Durbin's view was reflected by Alex Chen, director at IBM, who explained that he still sees customers demanding tape for storage and backup.
"The death of tape has been greatly exaggerated," said Chen. "We still sell tape storage and it's growing. It's like a penny a gigabyte and you don't have to spend anything on electricity. Flash is still five to ten times more expensive than disc. If you have data you won't use unless you can afford the recall time, tape is still the lowest cost media."
Durbin added that one of the challenges he needs to address is how to reduce the time it takes to perform backups as the volume of data he needs to store increases.
This chimes with recent research from V3's sister site Computing. When asked to rank a list of operational issues as they apply to data storage provisioning and management, respondents listed the time to make backups as the chief pain point, over such issues as capacity, performance and complexity.
The research also examined the benefits of software-defined storage, and asked why the technology is proving slow to take off amongst UK organisations.
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