My kids learned it in school: Reduce, reuse, recycle. Folks focused on enterprise storage can take a lesson away as well: Do more with less, make do with what you have, and extract maximum value where possible
But reuse has other meanings as well. Many organizations have vast pools of untouched data on computer tapes, often sitting securely and untouchably in vaults. Lots of hay, and probably a pile of money, could be made from that data if it was usable. But it's locked away, offline, and forgotten. Tape is like a safe deposit box: The content is locked away and inaccessible.
That's right, the data is out of sight and out of mind. Where is it? Once it's on tape, it's awfully hard to know what it is, let alone where the tape sits. Most companies have rudimentary indexes of their off-site tapes. Maybe they know the data it was made and which system it represents. Maybe they even know what kind of data a tape contains. Perhaps a list of file names.
None of this is enough to make any use of that tape, however! Tape limits accessibility of data. As anyone who has had to resurrect data from old backup tapes knows, you never know what you have on tape until you bring the tape back and look through it.
Even if a tape is re-ingested into a backup system, usability of its content is limited. Backup system indexes are limited, providing no full-text search capability. Third-parties like Index Engines and Kroll Ontrack have built a business out of teasing value from backup tapes. It shows just how painful and difficult it is to work with tapes when so many are willing to spend serious money to have someone else take on the task!
But let's say you know exactly what's on a tape. Are you out of the woods? Not at all! First you have to locate the tape and wait for it to be delivered. Then you have to hope it wasn't damaged in writing, packing, shipping, or storage. Next you have to hope that the original write operation was successful. You have to have the right hardware and software environment to read it, too. Then you perform a complete scan, assuming it's no longer in the catalog. Finally you read the data - sequentially working your way to the goal. Finally you have what you want, just a few days after you went looking for it!
Don't get me wrong - backing up data to offline media is a great idea for peace of mind. Offsite storage is a great idea, too. But don't fool yourself into thinking you will be able to actually use that data! Instead, hope you never have to access your tapes!
Only data stored online is accessible.