Phantom Targets UDO Customers Following Plasmon Bankruptcy
Published: July 14, 2009
by Alex Woodie
System i shops that installed ultra density optical (UDO) storage technology from the bankrupt company Plasmon may be left wondering where to get service and media for their UDO investments. One option is Alliance Storage Technologies, which bought Plasmon's assets in January, but which is not honoring old Plasmon maintenance contracts. Another option is former Plasmon partner Phantom Data Systems, which sells optical storage systems that, like UDO, is based on Blu-ray technology.
The details surrounding the demise of U.K.-based Plasmon are a bit murky. What is clear is that, in October 2008, Plasmon Ltd. went into administration, the English equivalent of bankruptcy, and shut its doors in November. Then a group of former employees and investors in the U.S., headed by Steven Murphy, who was appointed CEO of Plasmon in November 2007, launched Plasmon Holdings LLC, but that operation failed too after the company ran out of cash and was forced into a settlement with IBM after Murphy tried to poach IBMers to work for him. IBM subsequently killed the 3996 Optical Library that used UDO technology OEMed from Plasmon, and which was installed in quite a few System i shops.
Soon thereafter, another group called Alliance Storage Technologies (ASTI) stood up to piece together the old Plasmon group. ASTI is headed by Chris Carr and based in the old Plasmon U.S. stomping ground of Colorado Springs, Colorado. Carr's group bought all the Plasmon assets and was successful in bringing back a few dozen of the old Plasmon employees to start production of UDO products again.
However, much of the old Plasmon business remains in shambles. ASTI obtained all of the assets of Plasmon, but is not beholden to certain liabilities, such as support contracts. System i customers that bought 3996 Optical Libraries or G-Series libraries directly from Plasmon can sign new support contracts, but they likely won't much resemble the old ones. (See the services and media FAQ posted on ASTI's Web site.)
The old Plasmon channel could be another source for support for UDO customers going forward. Phantom Data Systems, an ex-Plasmon reseller based in Norwalk, Connecticut, is offering a couple of options for former Plasmon customers.
First, they can implement a "standard hierarchical storage management" (HSM) software product that can support the UDF and Diamond file systems that Plasmon used in its UDO libraries, and migrate the data to a direct-attached disk array.
The second option involves use of a migration tool that Phantom has built to move data from the UDO libraries to its own PhantomStor Pure Storage Appliance, which also uses Blu-ray optical drives.
Sticking with Blu-ray could make a lot of sense for some customers. After all, Blu-ray has become the standard for high-definition consumer DVDs, which has had a big downward pressure on Blu-ray DVD pricing. That wasn't the case in early part of the decade, when Plasmon selected Blu-ray optical laser technology for its new UDO storage, and Blu-ray was going head-to-head with the competing HD-DVD format. Plasmon had an exclusive deal from the original Blu-ray developers Nichia and Sony to develop and market Blu-ray products to the business world and pursue a UDO roadmap, which made it into its second generation.
Phantom Data president Alani Kuye explains why UDO customers may want to stick with Blu-ray technology. "Blu-ray is currently the standard and the adoption rate across the board has been tremendous," he says in a press release. "With built-in DVD and CD backwards compatibility … our customers now have the cross-functional, nonproprietary storage and archival solution they have been looking for. UDO was the exact opposite of this."
Phantom is particularly interested in attracting System i customers who use Real Vision Software's i OS-based Real Vision Imaging (RVI) document management and imaging software in conjunction with UDO libraries. Real Vision Software is an established i OS software vendor based in Alexandria, Louisiana.
"RVI, being a very powerful solution, also supports the Powerfile A3 Blu-ray libraries, which are a part of our solution offering as well," Phantom's Kuye says. "If you have a UDO or MO [magneto optical] system from Plasmon running the IBM iSeries for RVI document management [suite], and are wondering how to move forward, we have the solution." For more information on Phantom, visit the company's Web site at www.phantomdatasystems.com.
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