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Blue laser technology in the IT infrastructure.

We've all heard the horror stories of decayed media, obsolete drives and proprietary system software that no longer exist. The chronicles end the same: the data is no longer accessible.

Even organizations such as NASA, the Census Bureau, and many others have lost stored data. While all of these organizations had the right idea by implementing a digital archive, they forgot one major component: technical evolution. They didn't envision one or more components becoming obsolete and ultimately affecting the readability of their data. All organizations, whether archiving for historical preservation or complying with storage regulations, should avoid using short-term fixes for long-term problems and should choose a technology with a proven history and a solid growth path to the future.

Singing the Storage Blues

Broad market adoption, a clear technology road map and open format standards are just some of the key components that should be considered when deciding on an archival storage system. Organizations that commit to digital archiving should be acutely aware that they will need to upgrade their storage equipment every 7 to 10 years to avoid equipment obsolescence. The options are simple: spend money on new technology or refreshing your existing technology--or spend even more money to recover your data and then upgrade to the new technology.

120mm red laser optical is the most widely used digital storage medium in the world. With its genesis back in 1982, we have evolved from CD to DVD (Digital Versatile Disc) technology, which has opened the removable optical media market to the broadest number of applications in history. One of the keys to DVD's success is that current DVD drives are backward compatible and can read CDs. But now, optical manufacturers have yet another clear migration path. Blue laser optical is just now entering the market, meaning it's time to prepare to migrate from DVD to Blue Laser optical.

120mm optical is the industry's most solid, reliable choice for preserving precious data. In fact, in comparing several storage technologies, the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) concluded that optical media is more stable than digital tape; and with proper care and handling, DVD optical media should have a lifespan of 30 years.

The Right Stuff

Blue laser optical was not included in the NIST report because it has only recently emerged. Assuming that it has the same reliability and longevity features of previous optical technologies, blue laser optical has all "the right ingredients" and then some: strong interest from multiple industries, future consumer models, an established technology roadmap through 2007 (with support through 2012) and UDF (universal data format) support beyond that to ensure readability of the data for years to come.

120mm blue laser optical utilizes a non-abrasive read/write process--it can be safely read and re-read tens of thousands of times without causing degradation to the media surface. In addition, new hard coating techniques are providing added protection from dust, fingerprints and scratches, making bare media solutions a viable, economical option for many applications that were previously unable to consider optical.

The cost of today's new 120mm blue laser-based optical libraries are an average of 30% to 50% lower than even a comparable 130mm cartridge system such as UDO. By utilizing a 120mm cartridge-free media strategy, IT professionals can take advantage of incredible densities--and eliminate the cost of the cartridge. Media costs will also be reduced as more disc manufacturers discover that they can produce bare 120mm blue laser media by utilizing existing manufacturing facilities that are currently producing other 120mm formats.

The 130mm format's NA Lens provides major density improvements compared to the 120mm format. In Sony's PDD, for example, the difference is .85 versus .70 for UDO, providing a much higher density of 23.3GB per side compared to 15GB for UDO--a total of 64% more storage per side.

Keeping Compliant

In addition to being bombarded with terabytes (TB) of e-mail, e-fax and Instant Messaging, today's enterprises must comply with new regulatory storage requirements such as: SEC 17a-4, FDA Rule 21 CFR Part 11, HIPAA, Sarbanes-Oxley and the Patriot Act that bring their storage requirements to petabytes (PB) of data each year.

There aren't many enterprise-capacity storage formats out there that can claim a 30-year history and a solid growth path for another 30 years. Solutions incorporating 120mm blue laser optical are the next logical evolutionary path, designed to offer an economical, reliable, standards and regulatory compliant solution that delivers fast, random access to data stored to durable, removable media.

With more than twice the capacity of red laser optical libraries and data throughput speeds comparable to tape-based solutions (up to 9MB per second write speeds and 11MB per second read), a single blue laser media cartridge can hold 23.3GB of data--978,600 x-ray images (at 10MB per image) or the equivalent of up to 2 hours of HDTV content. Backward read compatible with red-laser DVD-R and DVD-RW formats, the blue laser roadmap extends to a 50GB second-generation media, followed by a third-generation product targeted at 100GB in 2007 with a throughput of up to 43MB per second.

This next-generation storage solution addresses all the challenges facing IT professionals, at a cost per Gigabyte that won't alienate the CFO. With the ability to provide unmatched performance, scalability and flexibility, blue laser-based solutions are uniquely designed to address the requirements of even the most storage-intensive IT infrastructures.

Chuck Larabie is vice president of sales at ASACA (Golden, CO)
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Title Annotation:Storage Networking
Author:Larabie, Chuck
Publication:Computer Technology Review
Geographic Code:1USA
Date:Oct 1, 2004
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