Musings on IT, data management, whitewater rafting, and backpacking

Tuesday, July 3, 2012

Tape in the Cloud?

Why don't we have access to tape storage in “the cloud”?

I want more cloud storage options. Amazon has a limited selection, other vendors have even fewer options, but most options concern disk redundancy and location, rather than access latency and data security. Redundancy is not a substitute for security!

Why, in this age of “everything online all the time” would I want tape storage in the cloud?

  • Tape is mostly offline. This protects against all kinds of problems.
  • Tape should be cheaper than disk.
  • Slower is better than faster for some use cases, especially if slower is cheaper
  • Tapes are easy to ship around.
  • With LTFS, tapes look a lot like file systems.
  • Or not. I want to point my backup software to a virtual tape library in the cloud!
What are some tape-in-the-cloud features I'd like to see?
  • Unshared tape cartridges. I want to know that my data is on cartridge serial number 987654321.
  • Explicit ability to “mount” and “unmount” tapes, to control the time window that tapes are online, for added security.
  • Tapes not buffered by disk caches. I don't want bits and pieces of possibly sensitive data lying around on cloud disks.
  • Tape buffered by disk caches. Sometimes I'll want speedier access to most-recently-used files.
  • Ship tapes back and forth to the cloud.
  • Virtual tape device drivers for common operating systems, so I can point backup software and other software to cloud tape. Windows, Linux, and Mac OS X, please.
  • “Infinite”, on-demand tape drives and cartridges. Maybe I do want to read or write from 100 tapes simultaneously, or scatter data across 1000 cartridges on short notice.
  • Access to LTO-5 and LTO-4 tape drives and cartridges today. In the future, N, N-1, and N-2 tape generations.
  • LTFS in the cloud, provided by virtual filesystems.
  • Backup-to-tape-as-a-service in the cloud. For example, click a few buttons to have cloud disk storage backed up to tape on a selectable schedule, without worrying about the particular backup software or underlying OS. Also needs restore-on-demand, and well-known backup tape formats so I can have the tapes shipped to me for local backups and restores.
Probably a fantasy for now, but seems odd that nobody's demanding this.

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