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Backups? Use disk. Archives? Disk. Particle accelerators? Fine, tape

Tape, the red-headed stepchild in the house of EMC

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What's EMC's attitude to tape? Who better to ask than William "BJ" Jenkins, the bigwig running the storage leviathan's backup and recovery systems business. So we did.

Last year EMC said loud and proud that digital tape sucks, and featured the world's biggest ball of tape at marketing events. This year there is no such aggressive anti-tape message and it appears that the company's attitude to the storage medium has changed, thanks to a growing focus on juggling huge data volumes.

The attitude seems to be that for back ups, information should go to disk whether it's in an Avamar or Data Domain backup system. Data to be archived should also go to disk unless it is a super-large set - think CERN and the Higgs boson-hunting Large Hadron Collider which generates 15PB per year - and the customer wants it kept on tape. Then, yes, EMC will use tape.

"We would still like all protected data to be on disk," said BJ. His business strives every day to make disk economics better, but the EMC man admitted super-large datasets could be best stored on tape.

A large amount of tape is bought every year and "where customers want that we are trying to find a way for them to buy that from EMC", he said.

EMC also stated that, in the data archive space, it's trying to get more data on disk.

El Reg asked if Linear Tape File System, the software providing a file'n'folder interface to LTO tape, made any difference to the storage medium's role.

Rob Emsley, a senior director for product marketing in Jenkins' division, said: "We haven't seen a lot of demand for it from the customers we talk to. It may make using archive tape a little easier but it doesn't fundamentally change things."

Archive tape isn't an unwanted child in EMC's house, but it's not quite as loved as the disk-based children. ®

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