Beware the LTO-7 Marketing Hype

Posted on by Larry

Commentary2.jpgLTO is the industry-leading, tape-based archiving solution for media and other digital assets. The current version is LTO-6, with new versions arriving every 18 months or so. The next release will be LTO-7.

Tim Jones, CEO of TOLIS Group, sent me the following caution:

I just wanted to share with you that the LTO-7 specs have been finalized and LTO.org is pushing out marketing-faced announcements. As usual, they’re touting the mythical 2.5:1 compression numbers instead of the real, native values.

They are claiming 15 TB per tape and 750MB/sec. Unfortunately, they are hiding the caveat of “assuming 2.5:1 compression” deep in the marketing statements. The reality for the TV, film, and music industries is 6 TB per tape and 300 MB/sec. So, as people start “discussing” LTO-7, you’ve got the facts straight going in ;).

We don’t have expected availability for consumers or pricing yet, so “don’t touch that dial!” In fact, we haven’t even received the first engineering samples and using LTO-5 and LTO-6 as models, public availability is usually 10 to 15 months after we get those and work through the bugs.

When I asked Tim if I could quote him, he replied:

You can attribute me. Even without their unrealistic numbers, the native 6 TB per tape at 300 MB/sec is still very much worth getting excited about.

Larry adds: Personally, I’m a fan of the LTO format and recommend it to others. However, because media files are already compressed, as compared to a text file or spreadsheet, they can’t benefit from the additional compression offered by LTO tape.

While LTO-7 offers additional speed and storage when it ships, as with all things tech, when the marketing spin starts, you need to be able to separate legitimate, useful figures from flights of fancy; which is why I wanted to share Tim’s cautions with you today.

If Tim’s estimates are correct, we should see shipping LTO-7 products during the first quarter of 2017. (NAB 2017, perhaps??)


5 Responses to Beware the LTO-7 Marketing Hype

  1. Dan Weissman says:

    RE: transfer rates to LTO, is there an advantage to our killing the (presumably?) hardware-based compression of our essentially uncompressible data, or would the limiting factor just be that we’re writing to tape?

    • Larry says:

      Dan, my understanding may be incorrect, but, as I understand it, there’s nothing to “kill.” Hardware compression kicks in for uncompressed files and is ignored for compressed files.

      Larry

    • Tim Jones says:

      Larry’s correct. The compression is completely adaptive and kicks in when it’s useful and turns off when it’s not. Nothing there for you to do as a user except enjoy the large capacity and performance that LTO brings to long term storage requirements.

      (That applies to ALL LTO generations and other data tape drives that offer hardware compression).

  2. Rick Llewellyn says:

    LTO and long term storage – isn’t this also just marketing? With a new version every 18 months or so, doesn’t that mean a LTO archive is only good for 4.5 years?

    If you wait longer than 3 releases and your LTO hardware or software dies, aren’t your archives now permanently lost? Not to mention the labor cost of converting 18 months of archives every 18 months (from 3 version ago)?

    It may be reliable, but only for 4.5 years! Is this correct?

    Rick

    • Larry says:

      Rick:

      Yes and no.

      Yes, the hardware changes about every 18 – 24 months. And, yes, hardware only reads two versions back.

      No, because you don’t need to upgrade your hardware that often.

      I would say 8-10 years would be more correct.

      Larry

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