LTO-8 Tape Is Back

The LTO Program announced that both Sony and Fujifilm are now licensees of LTO Generation 8 technology, bringing to an end a years-long legal dispute that has crippled its tape distribution worldwide.

As worldwide data usage is expected to reach 44 zettabytes (44 billion terabytes) by 2020, a 50-fold leap from 2010, the need for stable, long-term, high-capacity storage media is ever more pressing. LTO technology provides a cost-effective, easy-to-manage solution for maintaining and storing the increasing amounts of machine and sensor data, high-resolution video, image files, and more that are critical to modern businesses.

The LTO program has aggressively pushed tape technology forward, with each new version offering nearly double the previous generation’s storage capacity every 2-3 years. LTO-8 tapes, first released in late 2017, offer a staggering 30TB of compressed storage (or 12TB native) per tape, topping 2015’s LTO-7’s capacity of 15TB compressed/6TB native. Moving to newer generations of LTO storage offers additional storage at lower cost, while also reducing the headache of managing more tapes.

However, a legal fight between Fujifilm and Sony over patent infringement significantly reduced distribution of LTO-8 tapes worldwide. During the litigation, Sony was not importing tapes to the US and distributors in other regions such as the Middle East and Europe reported difficulties obtaining them. Fujifilm was not manufacturing LTO-8 tapes for sale at all. With no other manufacturers, availability of this technology was severely limited. Users were forced to rely on older LTO-7 tape media or cloud storage solutions to maintain long-term data integrity.

Now that both Sony and Fujifilm have been confirmed as licensees, LTO-8 tapes are set to return to the global market in force later this year.

Check out the LTO Program’s official announcement on Sony and Fujifilm’s licensee status here. For more information on LTO-8 specs and capabilities, the LTO product page is available here. Nodal partner Backblaze covered the situation in this article, and additional information on the legal proceedings and the impact on LTO distribution can be found in this post from The Register.

If you have questions about long-term data archiving solutions including LTO, feel free to contact Nodal!