Ultra Density Optical One Step Closer to Reality on iSeries
January 13, 2004 Alex Woodie
Plasmon last week announced general availability of its new line of iSeries-compatible optical libraries, which sets the stage for bringing ultra density optical (UDO) technology to the platform later this year. Plasmon’s 5.25-inch G-Series optical libraries currently feature magneto optical drives, but with the next release of OS/400, these G-Series libraries will also support new UDO drives, which promise higher capacities and lower costs for companies trying to meet strict “write once” archiving requirements.
UDO is being heralded as the successor to 5.25-inch magneto-optical technology, which had set the standard for long-term storage and archiving for years. With 30 GB capacity today, UDO offers three times the capacity of the 9 GB magneto optical media, and Plasmon’s technology roadmap takes UDO’s capacity to 120 GB–with full backward compatibility–in a few years. Plasmon also says UDO offers affordability and approaches the cost of DVD storage, but with higher reliability (an expected media lifetime of 50 years or more) and greater flexibility.
Plasmon says that the capacity and flexibility of UDO gives it an advantage over other technologies as companies are increasingly required to keep better track of their growing databases. Plasmon says that new governmental regulations, such as HIPAA and Sarbanes-Oxley, are causing companies’ long-term and archival data storage needs to skyrocket, especially in the financial services and healthcare industries. UDO, which is available in both rewritable and write-once formats, provides an economically sound solution for this huge increase in data storage needs, the company says.
BLUE LIGHT SPECIAL
Plasmon developed its UDO technology from blue laser technology created by Nichia, a Japanese company seeking to support the next generation of high definition television (HDTV) signals on DVDs. Plasmon, an English optical media developer with American headquarters near Denver, holds the sole license to develop and exploit Nichia’s blue laser technology in the commercial data market.
One year ago, IBM and Plasmon announced that they would work together to support Plasmon’s UDO technology on the iSeries (see “Plasmon to Bring Ultra Density Optical Technology to iSeries”). The 5.25-inch UDO drives and media began shipping in November, and Plasmon is in the middle of rolling out its UDO-compatible line of G-Series 5.25-inch optical libraries.
Plasmon offers three libraries in its G-Series line: an entry package, a midrange package, and an enterprise-level package. The Enterprise G-Series library is already shipping and features up to six drives and up to 638 media slots. The Midrange G-Series library, which is also available, features two or four drives and up to 104 media slots, and starts at $20,000. Lastly, the entry-level library, which will ship later this quarter and start at $7,935, will feature one or two drives and 24 or 32 slots.
UDO ON ISERIES
Currently, the G-Series is only available with magneto optical drives for the iSeries. To support UDO with the iSeries, IBM must make changes to OS/400, which it is doing. Plasmon and IBM say that iSeries support for UDO will be delivered with the next release of OS/400, which is expected to be released later this year and will be identified as V5R3.
While the real story with the G-Series libraries is the promise of UDO, the G-Series also provides a nice upgrade path for OS/400 shops looking for a solution to their archival needs right now. Since current magneto optical and future UDO drives will be able to coexist within G-Series libraries, shops will be able to migrate from magneto optical to the UDO drives–and, more important, OS/400 V5R3–on their own schedule. However, UDO drives will not be backward-read-compatible with MO media.