Reputation-damaging corporate scandals, such as the Enron case in 2001, have highlighted the need for stronger compliance and regulations for publicly listed companies. Compliance regulations—such as Sarbanes-Oxley, the Health Information Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA), and the Gramm-Leach-Bliley Act—were created to ensure that financial, customer, and patient information is safeguarded and available for long periods of time.

With the continuing exponential increase of information, regulatory compliance is a big challenge for companies already seeking to reduce costs. These companies need reliable and affordable methods.

IT staff are challenged to manage the expanding tape storage hierarchy with existing resources and head count, and ensure efficient utilization and media optimization while showing consistent value to the business. Tape storage management operations have evolved by automating critical monitoring and analysis encompassing tapes, robotics, virtual tape systems, and tape management systems.

Unifying and optimizing tape management practices can reduce costs and complexity, improve support, and yield a powerful, easy-to-use solution. Users should then be able to select the “best” tape technology for their environment—without restrictions or vendor lock-in.

Tape technology remains the least expensive, most reliable option available for storing large amounts of data for long periods and an integral part of any compliance strategy, but there are several things you must first consider for compliance initiatives. Some examples include the need to reduce security threats and save money.

Here are a few points to consider to help you achieve compliance objectives and protect your information while reducing the demand for management resources.

Cost-effective data storage for long-term archiving. Using tape reduces the cost of data storage by approximately 30 to 40 percent over physical disk. Even with the newest disk technologies, the cost per gigabyte on a tape cartridge is still significantly less than keeping the information on disk. Since 2002, vast improvements in tape technology have appeared, including:

  • A much longer media life (the standard lifecycle of a tape media is between 15 and 30 years)
  • Improved drive reliability
  • Higher Mean Time Between Failure (MTBF)—up to 400,000 hours
  • Faster data rates
  • A more rugged design for transportability.

These advancements have helped ensure information is available and secure in case an audit is necessary for compliance purposes. Compliance regulations such as HIPAA dictate that information must be kept for at least 10 years, so tape will continue to be relevant to keep information secure and safe in case of an audit.

Storage media savings via tape media virtualization. In a typical tape environment, tape space utilization is well under 100 percent, which means you aren’t making full use of available space on tape and will need more media as data increases over time. More tapes require more resources to manage and maintain. Virtual tape technology dramatically reduces the number of tapes needed by letting you send backups to existing DASD devices as virtual tape volumes and then stack multiple virtual volumes to a single physical tape drive. This process achieves nearly 100 percent utilization of your physical tapes and significantly reduces the number of tapes being managed, transported and stored, delivering a big reduction in Total Cost of Ownership (TCO) and increasing the Return on Investment (ROI).

Virtual tape technology can be hardware or software-based, but software virtual tape solutions provide all the benefits of a virtual tape hardware solution while letting you minimize your energy footprint to save space, cooling, and electrical expenses.

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