Tape Vendors Catch The WORM

Tape vendors are catching on to WORM (write once, read many) technology as a selling point for customers swamped by compliance demands.

Quantum and Sony are making WORM technology standard for their respective SDLT and AIT formats, while Certance, HP and IBM plan to include it in the LTO-3 specification later this year. StorageTek is also offering WORM products, and IBM announced a WORM cartridge version of its 3592 enterprise tape in April.

“WORM is critical to enable corporations to address federal mandates, such as the SEC, NASD or HIPAA rules, in addition to helping them ensure that their data is authentic and is not alterable or deletable.”

— Peter Gerrs, Analyst
Enterprise Strategy Group

WORM-enabled tape drives and media cartridges allow backed-up data to be easily accessed, but not rewritten, altered or erased, offering a lower-cost way to store sensitive and regulated data and comply with rapidly growing regulations like HIPAA, Sarbanes-Oxley and SEC 17A-4.

Sony has been including WORM functionality in its products since 2001, according to senior national marketing manager Brett Schechter. The company’s Advanced Intelligent Tape (AIT) and Super Advanced Intelligent Tape (SAIT) products both offer the functionality.

AIT-4 drives and media are expected to support the feature shortly after they debut later this year. Sony boasts that it is the only vendor offering WORM functionality in the mid-range tape drive price point. The 200GB native capacity, 24 MB/second drives are expected to cost $3,500, and the media is slated to cost $85.

Quantum last week announced DLTice, an extension of its DLTSage architecture, to give SDLT 600 customers WORM archival functionality. Quantum says the free offering, available as a download, “makes the SDLT 600 the first super drive that can utilize standard media for both traditional backup and archive as well as for regulatory compliance.” The functionality will ship with all future SDLT solutions.

The LTO program plans to offer a WORM tape specification soon for LTO Generation 3, and then LTO manufacturers can choose whether to offer an LTO WORM tape product.

“WORM is absolutely critical to enable corporations to address both federal mandates, such as the SEC, NASD or HIPAA rules, in addition to helping corporations ensure that their data is authentic and is not alterable or deletable — in other words, immutable — during a specific retention period,” says Enterprise Strategy Group analyst Peter Gerr.

“Adding WORM functionality to tape is a logical extension of tape’s basic value proposition — that it provides reliable and cost-effective long-term archival storage for data,” Gerr told Enterprise Storage Forum. “If anything, I believe that vendors like Sony, Quantum and even IBM are somewhat late to answer the call of non-erasability and non-rewritability for tape, but as they’re now offering these solutions, I think they’ll become an important part of an organization’s overall lifecycle management of compliant data or other data which needs to be retained for long periods of time, where tape is really the most affordable medium to store this data on.”

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Paul Shread
Paul Shread
eSecurity Editor Paul Shread has covered nearly every aspect of enterprise technology in his 20+ years in IT journalism, including an award-winning series on software-defined data centers. He wrote a column on small business technology for Time.com, and covered financial markets for 10 years, from the dot-com boom and bust to the 2007-2009 financial crisis. He holds a market analyst certification.

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