The virtual tape library (VTL) is a great solution for archiving and protecting server data. It comes with a whole pack of benefits, allowing users to copy files and folders to tape with ease. This means that, unlike tape drives and libraries, users no longer need to physically transport tapes back and forth to archival tape libraries. Since the archive data is kept on a server that is readily available to all who need it, this greatly improves users’ data access.
VTLs are available in two main forms: local and cloud-based. One big difference between these two is where the data are stored. Local virtual tape libraries are physically located on a server that is dedicated to this purpose and are used for archiving all local data. However, local VTLs usually require extra setup because of the server hardware necessary for a VTL system, such as storage space, a tape drive, and a drive to connect the tape drive to the server. As an extra benefit, local VTLs give users the ability to perform a self-test of their server storage.
In contrast, cloud-based virtual tape libraries are hosted offsite. This means users can access cloud-based VTLs from a variety of locations. The advantage of this is that users can access the VTL from any workstation, not just from their own. Cloud-based VTLs have the ability to scale with an organization’s workloads, meaning that they can grow or shrink as the need arises.
However, this flexibility comes at particular costs. Cloud-based VTLs are hosted on a network server that is remote from the user’s desk, meaning there is no desktop connection to the server. The downside of such a configuration is that it is difficult to set up a remote system. However, there are vendors that have streamlined, automated, easy to use cloud-based VTL solutions.
There are various reasons that an organization should use VTLs. The two main benefits of using a VTL include protection and space. With VTLs, a user can protect their data from accidental deletion, loss by archiving it to tape and ransomware. They also have the ability to archive any type of information – be it a text file, Microsoft Office file, pictures, or video assets.
Another benefit of using a VTL is the ability to increase the amount of space available to an organization. Many VTL providers can offer up to 50TB of storage and have the ability to scale beyond that depending on the provider.
This additional storage space enables the organization to store more data and access it more frequently than using local storage methods. With this additional space, organizations have the option to create data archives, data backups, and data replication.
There are also some common disadvantages that users will have to deal with when using VTLs. These include the amount of work necessary for setting up the VTL system, the lack of portability between platforms, and the time it takes to retrieve information from the server.
VTLs are made to store all of the data on a server. This allows users to copy files and folders to tape, where they will be stored securely for protection. Data that is stored on a VTL is typically saved in one of two places: local tape drives and tapes on a VTL server.
Local tape drives are physical tape drives that connect directly to the computer. Since they are physically located on the same server, users have the ability to create a backup of their data to tape. Local tape drives are also great for creating a test of the storage on the server to make sure it is working properly.
Cloud-based tape is stored on a VTL that is located offsite. When data is kept on a cloud-based tape, it is stored with a file extension of .ztb. Cloud-based tape is usually much more costly than local tape drives and often charges users monthly or yearly, depending on the plan they purchase. However, because the cloud-based tapes are stored offsite, users are able to retrieve the data quickly. The issue of shipping and archiving physical tapes is also resolved, which saves a substantial amount of costs, in addition to immediate acces and archival of data stored on virtual tapes.
With the growth of large tape libraries, the challenge of data center consolidation comes. As many tape vendors have learned, it takes a lot of tape media to build out a full tape library. There is a lot of storage space in data centers that hasn’t yet been fully allocated. While vendors continue to make tape media available, the data center consolidation trend continues to surely move away from tape.
When you’re deciding on a tape library or an all-flash array, one thing you’ll have to consider is tape management software. Even if you are working with an all-flash array, tape drives can still become the bottleneck as you add storage capacity to the all-flash array. A tape library that has a solid tape management platform can reduce downtime and make your storage more flexible. This explains the popularity of using virtual tape libraries in a data center.