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Is DVD the complete storage solution?

article by:- Colin Smith from Maxoptix Europe Ltd

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DVD – Digital Versatile Disk - is a hot ticket today. Everyone's talking about it, and consumers are readily embracing the technology. DVD, however, is a multi-faceted technology, with different benefits for consumers, businesses and IT professionals.

The current growth in the DVD market is being driven by Hollywood - using the technology as a vehicle for movie & games distribution. But demand for storage solutions offering high capacity combined with rapid access is shifting attention to DVD for the IT industry.

Digital versatile disk comes in a number of guises:

Jukebox / Optical Libraries
on STORAGEsearch.com
Chuck Berry and Franz Ferdinand were
equally quick to access using Megabyte's
new jukebox which was not much bigger
than an iPod but much nicer looking.
  • DVD-Video
  • DVD-Audio
  • DVD-RAM.
  • DVD-R
  • DVD –RW
  • +RW

The numerous format variations cause some confusion - this is compounded by the fact that the different formats are not compatible.

Table 1
Table 1 part 2

DVD technology is a natural progression from CDs so, regardless of format, DVD disks share many common features with their CD cousins. A DVD is the same size as a CD and employs the same phase change technology. This generates an immediate benefit - backward compatibility with CDs – your shiny new DVD-ROM drive can read all of your old CDs. The vast majority of DVDs are supplied as a bare disk, rather than employing a protective casing. Unfortunately DVDs are just as vulnerable as CDs to damage by dust, fingerprints and scratches – be gentle with them. The phase change recordable technology (both CD-R & DVD-R) uses an organic dye polymer which can be degraded by UV light - including sunlight. Careful storage of recordable CDs and DVDs is crucial to data retention.

The comparison between DVD and CD continues through the writable and rewritable formats with the primary difference being the superior capacity of DVD over CD.

All formats are recognised by the DVD industry standards body - the DVD Forum -except +RW - a Sony/Philips design - at present this format is not fully developed for production. While DVD-ROM is the main consumer format, a number of DVD formats are available for use in the IT data storage market.

CD-R has been around for over a decade now, and at £130 for a drive and £1 for a cartridge, CD-R technology has reached a price point that consumers and businesses find extremely attractive for simple backup - leaving little margin for resellers. DVD-R, however, is still very expensive at around £5000 for a drive. This is because of the need to obtain a Content Scramble System (CSS) license from the DVD Copy Control Association. Without the CSS, content pirates could make an infinite number of illegal copies without loss of quality – bad news for film studios and software producers.

The final format group is the rewritable DVD family - the CD equivalent, CD-RW is well established. As an IT data storage medium the main players are DVD-RAM and DVD-RW as well as the developing +RW. The three formats within this dysfunctional family are surprisingly almost totally incompatible.

DVD-RW (from Pioneer) - based on the existing CD-RW - has a capacity of 4.7GB. DVD-RW is read compatible with most DVD drives - however it has its drawbacks - the cartridge will only rewrite 1,000 times.

DVD-RAM offers a higher degree of flexibility, as well as the promise of an enormous 9.4GB (double sided) capacity in the near future. Having been available in the UK for more than a year, the price of DVD-RAM drives has now fallen to a level within the budget of many SMEs. The high storage capacity and long lifespan (100,000 rewrites) will convince most company accountants that this is a sound investment. Random access means that the speed of data storage and retrieval is much faster than tape storage solutions. On the negative side, DVD-RAM is less compatible than DVD-RW, requiring a 3rd generation DVD-ROM drive to read it.

In the computer industry CDs have long been used for the distribution of documentation, manuals and reference material. CD libraries (jukeboxes with drives, a robot, and storage slots) have also become popular for allowing reference material to be shared across computer networks. Because of their increasing cost effectiveness in terms of cost per gigabyte, DVD libraries are starting to take this role. DVD-RAM libraries are also being used as near-line storage devices for accessing data which can be changed but needs to be quickly accessed – not filed away in a cupboard or safe in a dusty storeroom never to be seen again.

As with MO (Magneto Optical) technology, DVD-RAM in jukeboxes offers a more robust storage solution than tape. Some suppliers (such as Maxoptix) house the disk within a protective cartridge, as recommended by the DVD Forum. Maxoptix DVD-RAM jukeboxes also incorporate a robot to flip the media. This enables you to utilise both sides of the disk, and hence the full capacity of 5.2GB (soon 9.4GB) per cartridge. These jukeboxes offer flexibility and scalability, with 20 to 1600 slots (104GB to 8.3TB). Other DVD-RAM jukeboxes derived from their CD cousins use bare media, and do not have a flipping mechanism - meaning only half the capacity of each disk can be realised. As a rugged, high capacity storage device, with quick data retrieval, a DVD-RAM jukebox is ideal – particularly for networked reference files, requiring a large amount of space such as audio-visual and video files.

If a permanent solution for archiving information is required then MO technology should be considered. It is less susceptible to damage by sunlight, and is physically protected against dust and fingerprints. This reliable media can be rewritten 100 million times.

As with all storage devices, each DVD format is suited to different applications – although DVD alone does not offer the complete storage solution. As a storage medium one of the 'write many' formats is most suitable, although there is still some uncertainty as to which format will become the most prevalent. For creating a master copy of a large document, such as a multimedia presentation, or a corporate promo, DVD-R provides the necessary capacity and protects the original material from editing.

So is DVD a hot ticket?

It is clear as prices continue to fall that DVD offers useful new solutions to the IT market in terms of storage and data transfer. The development of an additional storage method increases the opportunity for resellers to precisely match storage solutions to consumer requirements. ...Maxoptix profile

read article by Plasmon the Impact of Compliance  on Archival Storage Strategies
the Impact of Compliance on Archival Storage Strategies - article by Plasmon

It's difficult enough protecting and archiving your data so that it's available to the right people at the right time (and cost). But now that's only part of the problem. With so many new rules and regulations which prescribe how you should destroy data records at the appropriate time - how do you guarantee that they stay deleted?

Archiving data on the wrong kind of media could mean you run the risk of breaking the law. Advances in the data recovery industry, and the future cohabitation of storage search-engines both mean that Compliance Officers have to pay much more attention to the ways in which data is dispersed and disposed of in different types of media.

This article summarizes the strengths and weaknesses of currently available market technologies. ... read the article, ...Plasmon profile, Optical Libraries
Squeak! - Animal Brands and Metaphors in the Storage Market
Squeak! - Animal Brands and Metaphors in the Storage Market
Animal marketing metaphors are popular in service industries, but you'd be surprised how many companies have used animals in their marketing of data storage products and services.

The storage market was worth over $150 billion in 2005, and as it gets bigger - more companies will turn to animal brands to help differentiate their otherwise bland products and lend them artificial (or deserving) characters and virtues.

The idea behind this type of marketing is to suggest positive connotations so it's unlikely that anyone will choose to associate their products with gremlins. But you may be surprised by the population of the storage ark.

This reference articles lists all known companies who have furry marketing brands, and also includes some which are slimy, scaly and scary too. ...read the article, Mice in storage

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