So what does disk offer that tape doesn’t and why are businesses starting to migrate in droves? There are several reasons.
Firstly, although disk-based systems were traditionally considered to be expensive luxuries, the price of this technology has now fallen to such an extent that it is on a par with that of its ageing cousin.
While an LTO-4 cassette holding 800Gb of uncompressed data will cost you about £110, today it also is possible to buy a disk holding 1Tb of compressed data for about the same investment.
A second but important benefit of disk relates to security, however. The fact is that disk-based data is automatically encrypted without the punishing performance overhead sustained by tape.
In addition, because information is sent digitally to a remote vault over a broadband connection, there is no danger of cassettes being lost or mislaid in transit – an important reputation-saving consideration these days.
In this context, the NHS is in the enviable position of having its very own N3 fast broadband connection, which means that it is particularly well placed to exploit the advantages of disk-to-disk systems to the full with no additional outlay.
A third reason for the move away from tape-based environments, meanwhile, is that they require high levels of expensive manual intervention.
Some businesses are forced to hire dedicated tape monkeys who do nothing else all day but change, manage, index, catalogue, store and retrieve tapes.