UDO Storage Now Available for the iSeries
by Alex Woodie
The wait for ultra density optical (UDO) technology on the iSeries is over. On August 31, IBM shipped two PTFs needed to let the 5.25-inch UDO drives in Plasmon's G-Series libraries attach to the OS/400 server. What has been promised for a year-and-a-half is now a reality, just in time to help OS/400 shops comply with new data storage requirements mandated by the government.
In January 2003, Plasmon and IBM struck up a partnership to bring UDO technology to the iSeries server (see "Plasmon to Bring Ultra Density Optical Technology to iSeries"). IBM recognized that some of its OS/400 customers had reached the limit of magneto optical (MO) drive technologies, so it partnered with Plasmon to develop OS/400 support for UDO, the new standard in optical drive technology.
Plasmon's G-Series libraries, equipped with 30 GB UDO drives, can provide almost six times the capacity of the 5.2 GB optical technology used in IBM's 3995 optical library. These G-Series libraries, which have been available for about a year, include high-end features such as dual pickers, redundant power supplies, barcode scanners, and hot-swappable drives, which can connect to iSeries servers via LVD or HVD SCSI. Today, Plasmon makes 30 GB UDO drives, and the roadmap calls for extending that capacity to 120 GB.
While UDO support has not been available with OS/400 until now, Plasmon has still been actively selling its UDO-capable G-Series libraries into iSeries shops. More than 40 G-Series for IBM OS/400 libraries, equipped with 9.1GB MO drives manufactured by Sony, have shipped over the last five months, says Shawn Klein, director of product marketing for Plasmon. "With many customers waiting for UDO support, we expect the units per month to increase as they upgrade to V5R3," he says. Since Plasmon's G-Series libraries can simultaneously hold both MO and UDO drives, many of Plasmon's iSeries customers went ahead and purchased G-Series libraries because they knew they could be swapped out for the 30 GB UDO drives, once UDO support was delivered, or continue to use both to support their needs.
The PTFs required for OS/400 V5R3 (i5/OS) to communicate with Plasmon UDO drives are SI13704 and MF33158. Only OS/400 V5R3 supports the new UDO drives, although OS/400 V5R1 and V5R2 will connect to G-Series libraries equipped with the Sony 9.1GB MO drives.
BUT FOR A WORM
UDO provides true WORM (write once, read many) capabilities, which has been required in the financial services industry for years, but which the government is increasingly requiring across a variety of other industries as well. Some mandates that requiring long data archival times or WORM capabilities are the Sarbanes-Oxley Act, the Healthcare Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA), the Gramm-Leach-Bliley Act, the Patriot Act, and the FDA's 21 CFR Part 11 for pharmaceutical companies. The UDO drives in G-Series libraries can write to either WORM or re-writable UDO media.
Plasmon is offering nine different libraries in its G-Series for OS/400 family. The basic entry-level Gx32 library, which has a starting list price of about $10,500 for a single-drive unit, comes with 32 media slots and can be equipped with one or two UDO drives and your choice of a barcode reader or a kit for mounting the library in a rack. These same barcode and rack-mount options are available across the midrange family, such as the G104 library, which starts at about $35,000 for two UDO drives (expandable to four, for $3,700 a piece) and 104 slots, providing 3.1 TB of storage capacity.
At the top of the enterprise class of G-Series libraries is the G638, which starts at $123,000 for a library with six UDO drives and 638 media slots. Additional UDO drives can be added to enterprise class drives for $8,000 each. The enterprise class libraries are stand-alone (cannot be mounted in a rack) and also can support redundant power supplies and two data busses as an option.
More than 30 storage management software packages support UDO media, drives, and libraries worldwide, Plasmon says. EMC Legato Computer Associates, and IBM Tivoli are some of the enterprise storage management software vendors supporting the new UDO standard with their offerings.
Plasmon's UDO drives are based on developments in laser research conducted by the Japanese company Nichia, which originally developed its blue-light laser to enable a new generation of DVD drives for high definition television (HDTV) programs. Plasmon, which is a British company with American headquarters near Denver, is the only licensee of the technology for the commercial data market. The consumer version of this technology is still years away from availability.