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Disk-to-Disk-to-Tape (D2D2T)

An Exabyte White Paper

Disk-to-Disk-to-Tape (D2D2T)

Where Disk Fits Into “Backup” option to view records upon request with-
out tying up valuable disk space. New
Tape originated in the 1950’s as the pri-
rules and regulations are requiring access
mary storage device for computers. It was
to records for years to come. Also, archive
one of the first ways to store data beyond
might be the only way to gain access to
the memory of a computer, which at the
critical files that were accidentally deleted
time was dominated by large mainframes.
months earlier or roll back an application
The evolution of computers led to the need
upgrade that was not successful.
for faster access times, which was met
with the development of the disk drive.
Disk drives were also able to store data Disk-to-Tape (D2T):
beyond the memory of the computer, but Disk-to-Tape backup is done several ways.
they could do it much quicker than tape. One of the most common ways is to have
The downside to disk was the increase in a tape device attached to each server that
cost and the potential for hardware fail- needs to be backed up. Each server then
ures. Generally, if a disk crashed the data backs up all critical data to the dedicated
was lost. The solution was to use tape as tape device during off hours. Initially, this
a secondary storage device focused on is easier to setup and configure, but indi-
backup and archive. Since tape cost so vidual tape devices require additional man-
much less than disk, it was a natural fit to agement and manual intervention by the
use for backup. Plus, tape was also the system administrator. Another popular
most cost effective, most dense and most method is to add a backup server to the
reliable method for long term archival. company network with a tape device
While backup and archive are extremely directly attached. The backup server then
important, they are each fundamentally dif- pulls the data from the other servers across
ferent. Backup is a copy of data in case the LAN to the attached tape backup
the original is damaged while archive is device. This method will require more time
data stored for historical
purposes. Typically, each
full set of data is kept
on-site for immediate
recovery and another copy
off-site in case of disaster.
Data protection has
always been a concern
and loss can come from
many different sources,
including hardware fail-
ures, fire, theft/sabotage,
natural disasters, power
surges, viruses, or human
error. Backup provides the Source: Enterprise Storage Group, May 2003

ability to restore data to the most recent to setup and configure, but consolidates
state possible. It is a short-term solution to the storage to one manageable location.
keep the company up and running. Once backups are complete, tapes are
Archive, on the other hand, is focused on rotated off-site for storage in a secure loca-
the long-term. It’s a method to retrieve tion. Sets of tapes are periodically pulled
data from the past and most companies out of the rotation and archived. Tape’s
need to have the ability to retrieve histori- ability to do backup and archive at a rea-
cal records. Whether accounting records, sonable cost makes it the de facto standard
HR records, medical information or audio/ for secondary storage.
video data, companies need to have the
Disk-to-Disk-to-Tape (D2D2T)
An Exabyte White Paper

Recording Cost per/GB Data Density Tape continues to hold its ground for several key rea-
Method GB/in3 sons: Cost, Capacity, and Portability. First, tape is
less than half the cost of disk in dollars-per-gigabyte.
Blue Ray $2.58 2.4
DVD $0.98 5.4 Since the value of data decreases over time, it makes
sense to store it on the most cost effective medium
Hard Disk $0.64 8.4
possible. Second, only the recording media needs to
Tape $0.27 9.0 be archived and not the recording mechanism. Tape
cartridges do not contain any electromechanical
parts that can fail during long-term archive, giving tape the longest shelf life of any removable media and
making it more durable for daily handling. Plus, tape provides backward read compatibility with each future
generation tape drive. This way technology evolves while the data is still accessible. Another benefit is that
the cartridge takes up less physical space per gigabyte, making it easier to store. Finally, tape is the most
portable storage device that can match the capacity of disk, making off-site backup and archive easy.

Advantages of tape:
• Single solution for backup and archive
• Most cost effective option for long-term
storage (archiving)
• Superior portability of tape provides security
against fire, theft, and natural disaster
• Tape is immune to viruses and worms
• Established standard (proven method
for archiving)
• Tape is compatible with most 3rd party
backup applications
• It is easier to recover data from a failed
tape than it is to recover from a failed disk drive

Disadvantage of tape:
• Slower backups and restores
• Higher impact to network bandwidth

Disk-to-Disk (D2D):
For years people have predicted disk would replace tape as the backup and archive device. One reason is
because disk can read and write much faster than most tape drives. This reduces the time needed for
backup, which frees the LAN for other uses. Secondly, disk takes less time to access data. Disk is a random
device, which is much faster than the sequential method used by tape. This makes the restore process much
quicker and reduces downtime.
There are a number of environments that the speed of disk is absolutely critical for backup and recovery.
Banks, financial institutions, the telecom industry, security systems, and transaction processing are a few
examples. The data is changing by the second, and in massive quantities. These are 24-hour operations
with backup windows in minutes instead of hours and down time is not an option. To meet these require-
ments a Disk-to-Disk scheme can be implemented. Disk drives are used for backup in place of tape drives
and data is copied to the secondary disk drive as if it was tape. The backup disks can be located on the
corporate LAN as (Network Attached Storage), on a separate network (Storage Area Network), or in conjunc-
tion with the servers as a RAID. With the data on disk, restores can happen much quicker, decreasing
Disk-to-Disk-to-Tape (D2D2T)
An Exabyte White Paper

downtime. The downside to disk backup is its porta- Disk-to-Disk-to-Tape (D2D2T):

bility. Without off-site backups the data is still suscep-
The best answer for customers who require fast
tible to fire, theft, virus, and natural disasters. Plus,
backups and restores is to add disk into their backup
disk still doesn’t provide an easy way to archive data.
and archive strategy. Disk-to-Disk-to-Tape (D2D2T)
Hard drives have several mechanical parts (heads, is the combination of Disk-to-Disk and Disk-to-Tape.
bearings, motor, actuator arm) that can fail during In essence it takes the best from both worlds. D2D2T
archive, which puts a question mark on their shelf is an approach to computer storage backup where
life. If the disk solution is a RAID device, then all the data is first copied to a disk storage system and then
disks in the RAID will need to be archived to ensure copied again to a tape backup system. It provides a
the data can be restored. Another concern during way to expedite backup by first copying data directly
archival is the disk interface. It is inevitable that inter- from one tier of disks to another, then enabling tape
faces are going to change, so to be compatible down backup as a separate operation. The data will reside
the road, it might be necessary to store the proper on the second tier disk until it is ready for long-term
interface card with the off-site disks. Disk’s speed is archive, which allows it to serve both as a staging
impressive, but its mobility makes it difficult to use area for the tape backup and a holding area that is
for off-site backup and archive. available for quick restores. The idea is to back up
from the production disk to a backup disk as quickly
It is possible to lease a dedicated point-to-point line
as possible. Once the Disk-to-Disk (D2D) portion
and mirror the data at two separate locations. Each
has finished, files can be backed up to tape at a
T1 line supports a transfer rate of 1.54 MB/sec and
more comfortable pace without impacting the perfor-
costs around $1,000 per month. The number of lines
mance of the primary storage space. The additional
needed is dependent on how much data needs to be
disk stage will add cost, but for some customers the
transferred per day. Once the connection is estab-
speed is vital.
lished, disk and network solutions need to be pur-
chased for both sites. Mirrored sites provide a good Most disk solutions can be used in D2D environ-
answer to fire, theft, hardware failures, and natural ments, including NAS Boxes, RAID Systems, Appli-
disasters, but they are still susceptible to virus and ance Servers, File Servers, and Virtual Tape Librar-
human error. If one location is infected with a virus it ies. The disk can be implemented as direct attach
can easily spread it to the other location. The same storage, but the most common method is to use it as
is true for human error. If an employee deleted an a target on the network. These solutions are based
important file several months earlier, it most likely on low-cost ATA drives, instead of traditional SCSI or
has been deleted at the mirrored site. The problem Fibre Channel drives. While the price tag is less, so
with disk is that the data is not being removed from is the reliability and performance. The MTBF for hard
the risk. drives may be higher than tape drives, but the differ-
ence is that a failed hard drive results in lost data
whereas a failed tape drive does not since the data
Advantages of disk:
• Fast backups free up network bandwidth
• Quicker restores
• Random access of data instead of sequentially
reading through a tape
• Easy to consolidated storage

Disadvantages of disk:
• Not a complete backup solution
• Very difficult to archive (physically & reliably)
• Less economical (TCO)
Disk-to-Disk-to-Tape (D2D2T)
An Exabyte White Paper

Most 3rd party backup applications were originally

designed and optimized to write to tape. As the ap-
plications, evolved support was added for disk, but
the performance increase was marginal. To solve
this problem, virtual tape library (VTL) software can
also be added to the mix. VTL software presents the
second tier disk as though it was tape, often done by
emulating the tape device. In most cases VTL soft-
ware can transfer data faster than typical backup
applications, but it’s also another application to pur-
chase, integrate, and maintain.
As organizations become more global, the time
available to perform backups (backup window) con-
tinues to shrink, but D2D2T is well suited to address
this challenge. With more and more pressure on IT
departments to protect data and make it readily ac-
resides on the tape media. In fact the more hard cessible, companies are looking for more complete
disks that are added to the storage pool the higher solutions to traditional tape backup and restore. With
chance of failure, where the opposite is true for tape. a properly designed D2D2T solution, IT departments
Since the data is stored on the cartridge, adding tape can spend their time working on other critical issues.
drives actually reduces the chance of data loss, es- Tapes will be ready for off-site storage and restores
pecially when they are combined with a solid tape can be done quickly during the day, which allows
rotation scheme. business to continue uninterrupted.
Once a second tier of disk has been implemented, a
3rd party backup application is used to copy the data Advantages of D2D2T:
from the production servers to the second tier disk
where it is available for restore. Then, when it is time • Quick backups & restores will reduce network
for off-site backup and archive, the software pulls the bandwidth issues
data across the network to the backup server and • Reduced backup window concerns
writes it to tape.
• Consolidated storage
Some disk solutions offer the ability to connect a
• Portability of tape provides security against fire,
tape device directly to the disk solution. Data can
theft, viruses, & natural disaster
then be migrated directly to tape without impacting
the network. The Disk-to-Tape (D2T) transfer re- • Tape provides a cost effective solution for long
quires additional intelligence, which is usually in- term archive
cluded with the disk solution. The first piece is a
slimmed down operating system, which is usually
Linux or Windows, but can also be a proprietary OS. Disadvantages of D2D2T:
The operating system works with a built-in processor • More complicated to setup
(CPU) and memory (RAM) to a handle the transfer of
data to the tape device. Finally, a 3rd party backup • Additional cost
application or native OS utility is used to manage the • More points of failure
data on the backup device. Without the added intel-
ligence the data would need to be pulled back across
the network to the backup server and then archived
to tape.
Disk-to-Disk-to-Tape (D2D2T)
An Exabyte White Paper

archiving. D2D backup does solve several data stor-
Tape has been the preferred backup method for
age issues, but it is not a complete backup and
almost 50 years because of its ability to backup and
archive solution, and leaves critical corporate data at
archive. Tape cartridges are inherently cheaper than risk. If the speed of disk backup is required, the only
disk and tape has always been more portable, mak- complete solution is D2D2T. Tape provides low cost
ing it easy to store the data away from the computer archiving while disk provides increased performance
system. This provides protection against fire, theft, and accessibility. In most environments, disk
viruses, sabotage, and natural disasters. Tape is backup is a “nice to have” while tape backup is a
also the most reliable medium for long-term “must have”.

Low Onsite Off-site Off-site Quick Backups High Backup App Easy to Setup
Cost Backup Backup Archive & Restores Capacity Compatibility
Tape Yes Yes Yes Yes No Yes Most Yes
Disk Yes Yes Yes/No No Yes Yes Limited Yes
D2D2T No Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes Limited No