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LTO Ultrium Tape Storage – The ultimate choice for capacity, security, and sustainability

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LTO Ultrium Tape Storage – The ultimate choice for capacity, security, and sustainability.

Tape storage has been declared dead for well over a decade by many IT vendors and industry analysts. These claims regarding the end of tape, however, have been considerably overblown. Tape storage is amid a renaissance driven by advancements in technology, a forecasted roadmap to far greater capacity, and its inherent ability to thwart cyberattacks.

Tape media experienced a 14% Y/Y growth in 2022 versus a 42% Y/Y decline in HDD sales.

While HDDs and flash storage will be the mainstay primary storage for mission critical applications for the foreseeable future, tape storage is experiencing sales growth as the relentless explosion in data drives the need for cold data storage. In addition, the inherent air gap that tape provides adds an increasingly important additional layer of data security. In fact, sales of LTO (Linear Tape Open) media increased once again last year, according to Trendfocus data quoted by Storage Newsletter. In contrast, Blocks & Files reported TrendFocus’ preliminary disk drive shipment data at the close of 2022 indicating a 42% annual unit sales decline, plus a HDD capacity decline in the region of 25-33%. Tape therefore has a very strong footing right now, so let’s dive into some of the reasons why.

The current long-term roadmap for LTO technology, LTO-14, could bring 1.4PB compressed capacity within a decade.

The latest LTO roadmap paints an optimistic picture for the future of tape storage capacity. Projections suggest that LTO-14 could deliver around 1.4 PB (compressed) of storage per tape. Couple this with high-speed retrieval through LTFS and the implication is that LTO will retain its critical role as a storage solution for the foreseeable future.
The capacity forecasts outlined in the LTO roadmap represent a significant milestone in the ongoing evolution of tape technology. Currently, LTO-9, the most recent generation, offers up to 45 TB (compressed) of storage. According to the roadmap, future generations are expected to double this capacity, with LTO-10 (providing up to 90 TB compressed) and LTO-11 (offering up to 180 TB compressed) likely sustaining the rapid adoption of LTO technology in the years to come. It’s conceivable that LTO-14, which currently represents the upper limit of LTO technology, could become a reality within the coming decade.

Tape technology provides an air gap to protect vital data and backups from ransomware.

The increasing prevalence of ransomware is a significant driver behind the recent surge in the adoption of tape storage. In the early days, ransomware primarily focused on encrypting the data of its victims. The most straightforward method to recover from a ransomware attack was to restore data from a backup. However, cybercriminals quickly realized that backups were the critical barrier preventing them from obtaining the ransom. Consequently, cyber gangs began developing ransomware designed to actively target an organization’s backup files.
Tape storage technology offers substantial protection against these kinds of attacks. Tape can function as an isolated data copy, commonly referred to as “air gapped.” In essence, an administrator can write data onto a tape, remove the cartridge, and store it securely in a separate location. Ransomware is unable to compromise data on a tape that is not currently inserted into a drive. Furthermore, since LTO-3 the Ultrium standards have incorporated write-once, read-many technology (WORM). This allows data to be written onto a tape in a manner that prevents other users from altering that information. In the context of ransomware, this means that an attacker cannot encrypt the contents of a tape.
To further protect data, the LTO-4 specification introduced a capability that permits LTO drives to encrypt data prior to its storage on tape. While all LTO-4 drives and later must recognize encrypted tapes, they are not obligated to actively facilitate the encryption process. At present, all major LTO manufacturers offer support for encryption directly enabled within the tape drives through a method known as Application Managed Encryption (AME).

LTO tape is leading the way for data storage sustainability.

In an era where cost reduction is a top priority for customers, storage solutions consume a substantial amount of energy. In response, storage vendors are introducing new platforms and initiatives that aim to address both cost and environmental considerations. Each of the three primary storage types, HDDs, flash, and tape offers potential environmental advantages depending on how customers utilize each technology. Flash vendors offer low power consumption combined with high performance and extended lifecycles. HDDs provide high storage density at a cost-effective rate, resulting in reduced overall power requirements. Tape, especially LTO, introduces its own sustainability aspect into the equation. Unlike other options, tape consumes minimal power unless a read or write operation is being performed. Recent research from Enterprise Strategy Group indicates that this characteristic could potentially reduce carbon emissions by a factor of 6.5.
According to’s estimate, a straightforward transition of just 33% of disk storage to tape could result in a global energy saving of around 200 million megawatt hours annually. LTO tape therefore has a significant role to play in reducing the environmental considerations of the global explosion in data storage.

Cristie Data GREEN S3 is taking sustainable tape backup & archive to a new level.

Cristie Data has decades of experience designing and installing tape storage solutions including their own GigaStream LTO tape library portfolio in addition to solutions from the world’s leading tape library manufacturers. Since 2020 Cristie has worked closely with technology partner windCORES to offer a range of backup and archive solutions hosted directly in wind turbines that utilize clean electricity at source. Tape backup and archive is an option for Cristie wind farm customers who wish to reap the benefits of a backup solution that is powered by sustainable energy, protected from ransomware, and physically secure by default due to the hosting location. To support the popularity of S3 compatible object storage used within many cloud-based storage solutions, Cristie recently announced the availability of their CO2-neutral, application-optimized GREEN S3 Cloud. The service is offered with a “pay-as-you-go” model, customers only pay for the storage space used. S3 storage backup direct to LTO tape is an optional within this service which takes advantage of the PoINT Archive gateway from PoINT Software & Systems. The PoINT Archival Gateway provides a standardized S3 REST API which allows the software to be used without customization for the increasing number of applications that use object-based storage with S3 REST support. The PoINT Archival Gateway writes object data directly to LTO tape media and does not require buffer disks, eliminating the need for cumbersome S3 Glacier commands to read archived data.

LTO tape offers easy scalability and backward compatibility to maximize return on investment.

LTO tape and library systems are designed for scalability and maximum return on investment. While Ultrium drives are associated with specific generations, they are mandated to maintain a degree of compatibility with older cartridge generations. The compatibility rules between drive and cartridge generations are as follows:
  • For Ultrium drives up to and including LTO-7, they can read data from cartridges within their own generation and the two previous generations. LTO-8 drives can read LTO-7 and LTO-8 tapes but cannot read LTO-6 tapes.
  • An Ultrium drive is capable of writing data to a cartridge within its own generation and to a cartridge from the immediately preceding generation, using the format of that prior generation.
  • Some LTO-8 drives may record data onto previously unused LTO-7 tapes with an increased, uncompressed capacity of 9 TB (known as Type M or M8). However, this transformation to Type M can only be initiated on new, unused LTO-7 cartridges, and once converted, they cannot be reverted to the 6 TB LTO-7 format. The process of initializing LTO-7 Type M cartridges to Type M can only be done in an LTO-8 drive. LTO-7 drives do not possess the capability to read LTO-7 Type M cartridges.
  • Importantly, an Ultrium drive cannot utilize cartridges from more recent generations in any capacity.

Cristie Data - LTO tape solutions from Entry to Enterprise.

Whether you are looking to embrace tape technology for the first time, or looking to upgrade or expand an existing installation, Cristie Data can offer a wide range of tape solutions and associated tape services. Cristie Data’s own GigaStream T-Series automated tape library range consists of four scalable models T8, T24, T48 and T560 providing maximum LTO-9 capacities with compression of 360TB, 1080TB, 2160TB and 2.52PB respectively. Migration from one of the smaller libraries to a T560 is possible at any time. The T8 model offers an ideal entry point with a compact 1-rack unit (1RU) form factor holding up to 8 tape cartridges. For larger enterprise applications Cristie are authorized partners for leading tape library manufacturers including Spectra Logic and Quantum.

Cristie Data Tape Services - ensuring your data is always available and secure.

To ensure the long-term readability and usability of tape archives, it is often necessary to transfer data to either new media or new tape libraries. We offer an extensive array of media services designed to guarantee the continual accessibility of your data.

Cristie Tape Service Proof of Concept

Are you considering the replacement of an aging tape library or the acquisition of a new tape system for a specific project? We collaborate with you to identify the most suitable system through a Proof of Concept (PoC). This PoC can occur either on your premises, within our demonstration environment, or within the demonstration environment of one of our partners. Throughout the selection process, we provide comprehensive support, leveraging our expertise in tape technology.

Tape Library check-up & Quality assurance

We can recognize the first signs of a deterioration in tape quality quickly and easily allowing you to take remedial action to prevent impending data loss. Additional tape services include:
  • Storage of data carriers – CMW – Cristie Media Warehouse.
  • Migration to new tape generations – CMM – Cristie Media Migration
  • Tape inventories
  • Tape monitoring and reporting
  • Operation of the library environment
  • BSI-compliant data media destruction in accordance with ISO 66399 – CMD – Cristie Media Destruction
  • Tape reviews
  • Library migration
  • Library monitoring and reporting
  • Rental of tape libraries for migrations

Cristie Data – Your go-to partner for every tape storage requirement.

In summary, LTO tape technology is here for the long haul offering incredible leaps in capacity, performance, security, and sustainability. The Cristie Data team are always available to answer your questions and address your backup and archive needs. For more information visit our Backup & Archive solutions page or contact us for an informal chat.

Simplifying migration from VMware

Simplifying migration from VMware Cristie Data provides a seamless transition for customers who want to switch from VMware to an alternative platform. Although VMware has


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