Fujifilm Adds GPS Tracker to Tape Cartridges
November 12, 2007 Timothy Prickett Morgan
The techies at Fujifilm, who crank out more patentable pieces of intellectual property than just about any other company in the world on behalf of the $23.6 billion Japanese conglomerate, have come up with a new product called Tape Tracker for data recording media. Fujifilm and its tape drive partners have already added encryption to LTO Generation 4 tape drives, but once a tape leaves the data center, you start feeling less secure. Particularly when we all read the papers and see that companies–including IBM earlier this summer–have lost data tapes in transit to archiving facilities, potentially allowing sensitive data for millions of people to fall in the wrong hands.
To help put CIOs, system administrators, and security officers at ease, Fujifilm has been working with a security company called QinetiQ to put a global positioning system (GPS) tracker inside of a standard 1/2-inch tape cartridge. Having done this, the programmers at Fujifilm created a Web-based tracking system that allows companies to actually see where their tapes are as they are moving around the globe. One of the keys to this Tape Tracker technology is an enhanced GPS receiver, which Fujifilm says is over 1,000 times more sensitive than conventional commercial receivers that you and I can buy at Wal-Mart. This means the Fujifilm system can see tapes as they wind their way through cities, rural areas, and even inside warehouses and data vaults. The Tape Tracker system not only sees tapes when they are moving, but monitors when they are at rest and are supposed to stay that way. If tapes start moving when they are not supposed to, then the Tape Tracker system can alert the right IT and security personnel.
Tape Tracker is in beta testing right now, and is scheduled to be generally available some time in the first quarter of 2008.