Tape storage is still a key part of IT business strategy, and is used widely by most UK businesses. This is according to recent survey published by Overland Storage, a provider of data management and data protection solutions across the data lifecycle.

Raul Del Fabbro, storage division manager at distributor Drive Control Corporation (DCC), believes this trend is echoed in the local market.
A key finding from the survey of 1 000 UK businesses, conducted by Vanson Bourne and commissioned by Overland Storage, was that the vast majority (83%) still use tape storage systems to back up and protect their business data.
Thus, even with the adoption of disk-based storage solutions over the past decade, tape clearly remains widely used as a key part of most organisations' data management and protection strategies.
Supporting survey findings include:
* The most common use case for tape storage is offsite backup (70%), while a large proportion (61%) continue to rely on tape for onsite backups.
* 43% cited archiving as the third most popular use case, while over a third (34%) have turned to tape based solutions to ensure compliance with data retention regulations.
* A large segment of respondents (28%) still utilise tape for near-line storage.
"Although a survey has not yet been conducted in the South African market, we are seeing a similar trend amongst local customers," says Del Fabbro.
"Despite the entry of cloud computing, which offers an attractive alternative to businesses, companies, especially small to medium enterprises (SMEs), are still investing in smaller backup and recovery solutions such as tape libraries, direct attached storage (DAS) and network attached storage (NAS)."
Disk storage solutions have, however, made significant inroads over the years. According to the survey, like-for-like onsite disk storage capacities have surpassed those of tape, with the average enterprise managing 101Tb of disk storage, compared to 67Tb of tape storage.
Despite this, the majority (54%) of enterprises expect to invest in tape storage systems in the coming five years, with almost a quarter (24%) expecting to purchase a tape system within the 12 months.
The survey results do, however, indicate a need among small and medium enterprises for better and more 'hands-free' management solutions. When it came to data backup best practices and the frequency of moving data to tape, ostensibly to free up disk storage, less than a third (31%) confirmed it was done on a weekly basis.
Although the majority (52%) moved data across to tape within a month of it being created, a surprisingly large 10% admitted to doing this only on an annual basis. Almost a quarter (24%) of those surveyed lacked automated data movement tools and had to move data to tape manually. These they may well find in the cloud, suggests Del Fabbro.
"There is clearly a requirement for storage management software that reduces the complexity that goes hand-in-hand with ever-increasing storage requirements, especially archiving, which is now also driven by Governance Risk and Compliance (GRC) issues," he continues.
"Software, and in particular storage software hosted in the cloud, is making more of an impact than storage hardware components. Businesses are fast realising the benefit of the pay-per-use model which eliminates the requirement for licences and provides companies with the latest iterations and versions without major investment on their part."
Archiving frequency best practice trends were slightly better. Just under half (45%) archived old data on a weekly or better basis, rising to over three-quarters (76%) who did so on a monthly basis.
When asked "will archiving to the cloud kill off tape?" a very small minority (8%) thought so.
"Tape storage systems have played, and will continue to play, an integral part of the data management and protection strategy of UK enterprises for many years. Tape continues to offer a significant price/performance advantage over traditional disk-based solutions and remains the choice for offsite backup and archiving," says Andy Walsky, VP for EMEA sales at Overland Storage.
"And, despite the buzz around archiving to the cloud, tape will remain the premier archiving choice for many years to come."
Del Fabbro believes South African businesses, like their UK counterparts, will in the short-term also continue to favour tape as the preferred archiving medium. However, in the next five to 10 years, it will be interesting to see how the results of such a survey vary. The question is, will tape still be king?