Going to the cinema is one of my favourite hobbies, so much so I’m considered a bit of a geek. My friends use me to settle arguments over which actor played a certain part or appeared in a particular film. It seems fitting that an archival storage guy should acquire a reputation for being a trove of movie trivia. And unlike IMDb, I’ll buy you a drink if I’m wrong!

Recently, I watched the new James Bond movie, ‘SPECTRE’, which I have to say was a bit of a let down. This isn’t a film review, but I did find myself getting a little bit distracted and some questions began forming in my mind.

Wasn’t it strange that we were still here in 2015, watching the latest exploits of a character who first appeared in the 1950s? How many opponents had written 007 off for dead in that time only to be left eating their words by the time the credits rolled? And why, in spite of everything we know about James Bond (I don’t think it’s a spoiler to say that basically, 007 always beats the baddie/gets the girl), do audiences keep coming back again and again for more?

And then suddenly, it hit me. Isn’t the career of James Bond the perfect metaphor for tape storage? I think the evidence is compelling!

Born in the 1950s

The first James Bond movie was ‘Dr. No’ and it appeared in 1962. But the original James Bond novel, ‘Casino Royale’ was published by Ian Fleming ten years earlier, around the same time that the earliest magnetic tape devices were being developed. Just like tape, Bond has reinvented himself through the decades, using ever more sophisticated technology, but still remaining absolutely true to his underlying purpose: to save the day.

Constantly written off

A staple element of any Bond movie is the overconfident adversary who believes that he has trapped 007 in some mortal peril from which there can be no escape. And it’s equally certain that before you can say ‘shaken not stirred’, the control centre from which the criminal mastermind planned to rule the world will just be another mountain citadel/laboratory/submarine/(and my favourite) space station going up in flames. Now we are on the verge of LTO-7, there are a lot of earlier predictions about the demise of tape sitting in smoking ruins.

“Do you expect me to talk?”
“No, Mr. Bond, I expect you to die!”

Don’t get me wrong, I’m not suggesting tape competitors are megalomaniacs! They are all good people committed to their cause. But like a classic Bond adversary, tape’s opponents have tried and failed and failed again to kill off the technology. Constantly sneered upon as a dinosaur and out-of-date, Bond, like tape, quietly and calmly gets on with the job, to the frustration of those who plot its demise.

“You persist in defying my efforts to provide an amusing death for you.”

And now LTO Ultrium tape is back, bigger and better than ever! I guess ‘Die Another Day’ is the Bond movie we should reference here (and extra kudos if you can remember the name of the bad guy – no cheating!)

Q would have been proud

And now, LTO Ultrium tape is back, bigger and better than ever. The new HPE StoreEver MSL6480 with LTO-7 packs more innovation and technology into a small space than one of Q’s Aston Martins.

  • The MSL6480 scales vertically from 80 to 560 cartridge slots to store up to 8.4 PB (with 2.5:1 compression) in a single 19-inch rack.
  • With a range of interfaces supporting backup speeds of up to 105.8 TB/hour, the unique modular setup of MSL6480 includes a continuous robotics design to provide higher performance and fewer points of failure.
  • And with 13 cartridge slots / up to 195 TB (with 2.5:1 compression) per 1U of rack space using LTO-7 drives, MSL6480 provides the highest tape drive density per module of any mid-range tape library.

In the new ‘SPECTRE’ movie, Q can track Bond anywhere in the world using advanced nanotechnology in his blood. Likewise, an IT group can manage, configure, and use the MSL6480 library from across the room or across the globe with HPE’s unique, web-based remote management and diagnostic tools. This means they can proactively monitor utilization, operational performance, and overall life and health of the drives and media in their tape library. But it must be said that LTO-7 is a lot easier to manage and keep on course than 007!

Saving the world….again and again

But why is tape so enduring? For me, it can be summed up in two words. Lasting innovation. Not only is LTO Ultrium extremely reliable, versatile and durable technology, but it keeps re-inventing itself. WORM. Encryption. LTFS. Gigantic leaps in capacity and performance. Tape-as-NAS. LTO keeps proving its value in a world that has changed out of recognition since the 1950s. Like James Bond, the audiences just keep coming back for more. That’s why the amount of capacity on new LTO Ultrium cartridges keeps shooting upwards like a missile streaking from earth to destroy a killer satellite threatening to…..well, you get the picture!

Even when the outlook appears bleak, Bond always saves the day because his character has some essential attributes that are as relevant to ‘SPECTRE’ in 2015 as they were to ‘Dr. No’ in 1952. And tape continues to thrive because customers need the fundamental benefits that no other technology has yet come close to matching for archival storage: security, long term durability, cost effectiveness, scalability, ease of management.

No matter how much you shake or stir an LTO Ultrium tape (and Hewlett Packard Enterprise goes to extreme lengths to make sure our data cartridges are reliable), the technology remains the bedrock for hundreds of thousands of data protection strategies around the world.

So whether it’s 007 or LTO-7, I feel confident that both are going to be saving the world for a long time come.


(This is a slightly adapted version of a blog post that I wrote for a November 2015 HPE tape storage marketing campaign.  The project was an internal/external awareness campaign to more than 500 colleagues and 5,000 worldwide resellers.  It ran for a month, with new blogs, social media and other multimedia elements appearing every day.  During the campaign, over 20,000 emails were sent with an average open rate of over 30% for the external audiences, versus an industry average (source: Mail Chimp) of 18%.)