I get asked all the time about long-term archiving. Usually the questions revolve around “future proofing” data. How can I make sure my data is recoverable in 15 years?
What if you had the ability to roll your data forward in time? What if you could make sure the tape is still readable as well as migrate your data from one type of media to another? What if you could “future proof” your data?
The good news is: you can. And, IBM Tivoli Storage Manager (TSM) is the best application to do this type of long-term data retention. Why? It’s simple. Data can be migrated from one piece of media to another, and in the process, it can be audited to ensure it can be read and matches the original data. TSM has been doing this for nearly 20 years, and this feature, while not new, is cutting edge.
Migrate vs copy
First, TSM does not copy data from tape to tape. It migrates the data. You may ask, what is the difference? When you copy a tape, it is a one for one copy, so if you are going from a tape that holds 1 terabyte (TB) to a tape that holds 10TBs, you now have a tape that is 9 TBs empty—a waste of 90 percent of that tape. If you migrate the data, it can collate all the data to the smallest amount of media possible. In the example above, you would be able to take 10tapes that are 1 TB and put them on one tape that is 10 TBs.
That may seem like a simple thing, but if it were, the other major vendors in the market space would also be doing it. But, they don’t.
Why is this important?
This is important for many reasons, but the most obvious is the technology you have today will be gone in 5 years. If you keep your data for 15 years, your data will have gone through at least three technology changes. Think about your cell phone and what it looked like 15 years ago. Did it look like a pager? The same thing is true here. We have gone from DAT tapes to DLT tapes to SUPER DLT tapes to LTO tapes, and we are already on the 6th generation of those. If your data was on a DAT drive, would you be able to get the same type of drive that created the tape? And, if so, would you be able to get the drivers and actually recover your data?
Answer: It would be hard to pull that off.
Validity of your data
Now that you have the data rolling forward on to new media, you need to make sure the data is still viable. TSM can do that too. How? When TSM migrates data from one piece of media to another, you have the option of auditing the data. That means, you can check the ‘checksum” data for each piece of data. If the data is corrupt, incomplete or not viable in any way, the audit will fail and you will have to rebuild that data from the other copy you have in your storage pool.
This is where “proof” comes in to play in “future proof.” You can now verify that the data is not only readable because it is on media that you have the correct drives, drivers and connectivity to read, but you can also verify that the data is still in its original form.
That is what I call data that is “future proof” and TSM is the undisputed champion in this space.
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