Currently, I am working with a customer on their archive data and we are discussing which is the better medium for their data that never gets read back into their environment. They have about 200TB of data that is sitting on their Tier 1 that is not being accessed, ever. The crazy part is this data is growing faster than the database that is being accessed by their main program.
This is starting to pop up more and more as the unstructured data is eating up storage systems and not being used very frequently. I have heard this called dark data or cold data. In this case its frozen data.
We started looking at what it would cost them over a 5 year period to store their data on both tape and cloud. Yes, that four letter word is still a very good option for most customers. We wanted to keep the exercise simple so we agreed that 200TB would be the size of the data and there would be no recalls on the data. We know most cloud providers charge extra for the recalls so we wanted and of course the tape system doesn’t have that extra cost so we wanted an apples to apples comparison. As close as we could.
For the cloud we used Amazon Glacier pricing which is about $0.007 per GB per month. Our formula for cloud:
200TB X 1000GB X $0.007 x 60 months = $84,000
The tape side of the equation was a little more tricky but we decided that we would just look at the tape media and tape library in comparison. I picked an middle of the road tape library and the new LTO7 media.
Tape Library TS3200 street price $10,000 + 48 LTO7 tapes (@ $150 each) = $17,200
We then looked at the ability to scale and what would happen if they factored in their growth rate. They are growing at 20% annually which translates to 40TB a year. Keeping the same platforms what would be their 5 year cost? Cloud was..
200TB + (Growth of 3.33TB per month) x 1000GB x 60 months = $125,258
Tape was calculated at:
$10,000 for the library + (396TB/6TB LTO7s capacity)x$150 per tape = $19,900
We all here how cloud is so much cheap and easier to scale but after doing this quick back of the napkin math I am not so sure. I know what some of you are saying that we didn’t calculate the server costs and the 4 FTEs it takes to manage a tape system. I agree this is basic but in this example this is a small to medium size company that is trying to invest money into getting their product off the ground. The tape library is fairly small and should be a set it and forget it type of solution. I doubt there will much more overhead for the tape solution than a cloud. Maybe not as cool or flashy but for $100,000 over 5 years they can go out and buy their 5 person IT staff a $100 lunch everyday, all five years.
So to those who think tape is a four letter word and is that thing in the corner that no one wants to deal with, I say embrace it and squeeze the value out of them. Most IT shops have tape still and can show to their finical teams how they can lower their cost with out putting their data at risk in the cloud with this: