Even as we continue to debate whether or not tape is dead, indicating at least that its salad days are probably behind it, some of the most interesting innovations in tape technology I’ve seen are happening right now.
For example, there’s Index Engines’ tape indexing and search software. If you’d been able to give backup administrators the ability to do a keyword search across dozens of backup tapes to identify what tapes should be restored, as well as the ability to extract single relevant files from said tapes, we might not have ever heard of a VTL.
I’d put the latest development from ediscovery services provider RenewData into that category as well. Renew says its tape-processing systems now only need to take a single pass through a given piece of linear media. Renew previously needed two or three passes, requiring its admins to mount tapes in proper order and reassemble data as it was ingested. The single-pass process will reduce the time it takes to find relevant information stored on its clients’ tapes.
The single-pass process is made possible by software that allows that data to be reassembled on the back end. Renew is not selling that software, except as part of the back-end of its hosted services. Renew’s VP of marketing Bob Little says the company doesn’t have any plans to offer it as an on-premise product.
But I have to wonder if someone else won’t find a way to develop something similar. I also wonder, if the tape space keeps coming up with finding new ways to access data randomly on linear media, whether this disk vs. tape debate could get much more interesting.