The FCC gives discounts to schools and libraries if they want to buy a tape-based backup system, but not if they want to use disk or any type of cloud-based architecture.
No, this is not me saying this is an example of how tape is better. It’s me, an American citizen expressing frustration at how inefficient my government is — at least in this case.
For those (like me) who don’t live in this world, here’s what I’m talking about. According to their website, “The Schools and Libraries Program of the Universal Service Fund, commonly known as “E-Rate,” is administered by the Universal Service Administrative Company (USAC) under the direction of the Federal Communications Commission (FCC), and provides discounts to assist most schools and libraries in the United States to obtain affordable telecommunications and Internet access.”
If you download the list of things that are eligible for the E-rate program, you will find that “tape backup” is eligible, but Online Backup Solutions are specifically not eligible. There is no mention of disk-based backup devices. Here’s the best part. Tape backup is defined as “QIC, DAT, 8mm, DLT, AIT, and ADR.” ADR was end-of-lifed 9 years ago, QIC & AIT were EOLd 3 years ago. Note that their is no mention of LTO, a device that was released 12 years ago and currently owns 90% of the market. So to say that the FCC is a bit behind the times is an overstatement.
By the way, they also list floppy disks and CD-Rs as the only examples of removable storage. No mention of DVDs or BluRays — and when was the last time you saw a floppy drive?
Thanks to Christina Weil (@c_weil) for pointing this out via Twitter.
Amazing, just amazing.
Update (3/22): This program is aimed at getting schools and libraries connected. So I’ve been told that the network parts of this document are mostly up to date. The only reason backup is in the document in the first place is to help ensure that the connectivity systems remain available and connected. What I think happened is that the network vendors knew about this program and made sure their parts got updated, and the tape/storage folks have ignored it (or not know about it).