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Tape Ark executes one of the biggest data migrations with Microsoft

Picture of Desiree Durrani
Desiree Durrani
guy holmes
// // The Perth startup will help transfer 220 petabytes of data from old-school magnetic data tapes to the cloud

In a collaboration like no other, Perth-based startup Tape Ark has been enlisted by tech giant Microsoft to convert petabytes of historical tape from the British Meteorological Office (“Met Office”) into cloud storage files.

It is believed that Met Office was allocated £1.2B (AUD$2.2B) by the British Government in April 2021 to build a supercomputer that was described as twice as powerful as any other supercomputer in the country and among the top 25 computers in the world.

As part of the ambitious project, Tape Ark, whose speciality is high-volume migration of ageing corporate data from archive tape media to the cloud, will migrate 220 petabytes of data to the Azure cloud – the world’s largest-ever tape to cloud ingest project.

Tape Ark CEO and Founder Guy Holmes has said that this project has “given the whole team at Tape Ark a real sense of purpose”.

We are extremely pleased to work with Microsoft on this project as we continue to move towards our greater purpose of liberating the most valuable data collections on the planet, so that new discoveries can be made.

To be doing this for projects related to climate change and global warming has given the whole team at Tape Ark a real sense of purpose.

Guy Holmes

Holmes expects more organisations will follow the Met Office’s lead and move unexplored data sets from legacy tape to the cloud.

“What we found is that there’s over a billion tapes that have been created that contain everything from medical and science research through to business transactions. That is all trapped on tape, where it’s inaccessible to modern technology, like AI and machine learning,” Mr Holmes said.

“People are paying to store those tapes on air-conditioned shelves, and it’s not even accessible. We’re solving the problem of bringing that content online,” he said.

Guy Homes from Tape Ark
Guy Homes from Tape Ark

Project Silica and sustainability

Microsoft’s Project Silica which involves storing data on an unbreakable glass ‘platter’ that stores up to 75.6 gigabytes of data uses Tape Ark’s cloud ingest technology known as ArkBridge.

It is said that the project is a much-welcomed development for critical long term historical archive storage purposes and perpetual data retention as data is written inside the glass with this technology, therefore will not decay.

Tape Ark believes that using glass as storage will open up an incredibly exciting opportunity to challenge and completely re-think traditional archival storage system design, and to redesign the future hardware and software infrastructure for the cloud.

“I have personally overseen the transfer of millions of tapes in my career, and tape deterioration and the lack of legacy hardware are real and very serious threats to some of the world’s most important collections of data.

The movement towards a storage medium that Project Silica enables is one of the most welcome advances in data storage technology that I have seen in the last decade.

Guy Holmes

Jurgen Willis, Vice President of Microsoft’s Program Management commented: “In this proof of concept, Microsoft and Tape Ark worked together to demonstrate how Project Silica can help achieve the goals of mass liberation of data assets from tape, while ensuring the assets’ long-term preservation is secure on a medium that will stand the test of time using innovative archival
storage in glass”.

As well as being plentiful, durable, and long-lasting, the media in Project Silica greatly contributes to sustainability, as it requires minimal environmental controls in storage and never needs to be rewritten.

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Picture of Desiree Durrani

Desiree Durrani

When not working on a creative project or typing away behind a screen, Desiree can be found watching the football (the round one!), volunteering at motorsport events in Western Australia or listening to "Rock DJ" on repeat.
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