IBM Diamondback – Tape data storage for cyber resilience and data sustainability

IBM’s latest tape library, IBM Diamondback, capitalizes on the growing market for secure “air-gap” data storage and builds on IBM’s history and leadership in cyber resilience, data sustainability and archive storage solutions. IBM Diamondback is an ultra high-density library and drive frame with up to 27PB in a single standard 19 inch, 42U rack — designed for both hyperscalers (Google, Amazon etc.) and enterprise data customers with massive stores of data. With a 57% lower carbon footprint than spinning disk and a 25% lower total cost when compared to public cloud archival solutions and spinning disk, IBM Diamondback is uniquely sustainable and leads the industry in both capacity and cost.


Tape storage has been around for a long time. Punched tape was first used in 1725 in a textile factory in Lyon, France. Magnetic tape was patented by Fritz Pfleumer in 1928. (Source: Dataversity). IBM has a long history of innovation in magnetic tape data storage, having introduced the magnetic tape drive vacuum column back in 1952– setting the groundwork for tape to become a commercially viable data storage solution. Today, a range of analyst reports value the global tape storage market at from $1.5B to $5B with a 5 to 10% compound annual growth rate (CAGR).

One of the factors driving the tape market is the increased emphasis on sustainability by both businesses and governmental agencies. Tape storage offers high data density as well as extremely low energy consumption and heat generation for a substantially lower carbon footprint.

Also influencing the resurgence of the tape market is the rising number of ransomware and malware attacks combined with an increasing number of remote workers whose data is less secure. The attacks are increasingly targeted and are focused on large businesses rather than individuals.  And these attacks are costly. In fact, IBM reports the average cost of a data breach is $4.35 million and according to DataProt, an independent cybersecurity review business, the global cost will reach $20B this year– with a ransomware attack happening every 11 seconds.

Since tape is offline, featuring “air-gap” protection, it is much more secure than backup or encrypted data on the network or in the cloud. Beyond that, tape offers a lower cost of ownership (TCO), is extremely energy efficient, supports massive capacity and is long lasting – making tape the ideal solution for sustainable data archiving.

Back in 2018, Clabby Analytics published a review of IBM’s tape storage solutions, noting new products and new use cases. Since then, IBM has continued to build on its leadership in tape technology with a comprehensive tape portfolio that ranges from the TS2200 on the low end (with a maximum capacity of 19TB) to the TS7700 Tape attach TS 1160 (with a maximum capacity of 100PB). And today, IBM strengthens the product line with the smaller footprint, ultra-high density IBM Diamondback.

IBM Diamondback – A Closer Look

IBM Diamondback has been engineered working with hyperscalers and is focused on total security for archived data by eliminating the need for any third-party personnel. The systems are easily deployed without third-party service expertise because they have been designed WITHOUT: (1) expansion frames, (2) door side storage slots, (3) pivot mechanisms, (4) IMC panel, (5) front door stations, (6) side opening doors and finally, (7) dual robotics. IBM Diamondback is installed like a server rack and is fully loaded with media and a power-on self-install.

Major Features

  • Single Frame/Single Robot Tape Library
  • Data center rack width with 5U “top rack” option
  • 14 LTO drive slots, 1584 LTO cartridge slots
  • Integrated management with built-in LDAP and analytic tools (future)
  • Efficient use of floor space and energy
  • Self-install/self- maintain
  • Deployment in fewer than 30 minutes
  • Reduced service overhead with self-service option
  • Supports tape drive encryption and WORM (write once, read many) media

Summary Observations

IBM Diamondback is a turn-key cyber resilience and data sustainability solution that leads the industry in capacity, energy and floor space savings, and TCO. For hyperscale public cloud providers such as Apple, Google, Facebook, Amazon and Microsoft –   as well as “next-tier” hyperscale enterprise customers with 100+ PB of data – IBM Diamondback is truly a game-changer, offering total security and ease of deployment and maintenance.

In other news, IBM recently announced that they will integrate storage offerings from Red Hat – including RedHat OpenShift Data Foundation (ODF) software-defined storage for containers as well as Red Hat Ceph (open-source software for highly scalable unified object, block, and file storage) – into the IBM storage product line. This will provide consistent application and data storage across on-premises infrastructure and cloud. By bringing Red Hat storage into the fold, IBM is able to offer a single point of contact for service across the storage product line, paving the way for a complete range of flexible storage-as-a-service consumption models.