OVM Version 3.0.3.2 Released

Posted on Posted in News, Optical Volume Manager, TechBlog

February 14, 2012

Version 3.0.3.2 of the StorageQuest Optical Volume Manager (OVM) has been official released.  This version provides numerous performance improvements as well as software fixes.

For a free evaluation of this version or to upgrade your current version, please visit our Customer Care Portal.

Improvements:

  • Increased writing performance to virtual drive when client software is using small buffers (Less than 1MB)
  • Increased read performance from virtual drive when data is not in the read cache (from Optical)
  • Removed requirement for Optical Drives to have assigned drive letters
  • Management Interface memory footprint reduced

 

For full release notes, please download the software and view the Releases Notes.txt file.

Blu-Ray 100GB Drive and Media Avaliability

Posted on Posted in TechBlog

June 16th, 2011 – Brendan Lelieveld-Amiro

There has been a lot of talk about 100GB Blu-Ray lately.   This is based on recent discussions with Partners as well as internet research.    It seems the specification for 100 and 128GB Blu-Ray media has been released and manufactures are starting to release product.   100 and 128GB Blu-Ray is being called BD-XL.  The new higher capacity is a result of increasing the per layer capacity from 25GB to 33.4GB.  This is achieved with a technology called i-MLSE (Maximum likelihood Sequence Estimation).  100GB media is comprised of 3x 33.4GB layers.

100GB Blu-Ray Optical Drive

The first publicly available 100GB compatible Blu-Ray writer drive is the Pioneer BDXL bdr-206mbk.  This drive is able to write to 100GB media.  The drive is supposed to be able to read 128GB media once available.  This drive is available from many online retailers at a cost of approximately $200 USD.  The drive will be able to read the 128GB once available.

100GB Blu-Ray Optical Media

Sharp and TDK are currently shipping 100GB Media.  List prices for this media is roughly $75 per disc.  This price is expected to drop considerably as quantities and availability increases.    Other media manufactures (such as Panasonic) are also expected to release 100GB media in the near future.

 

The Universal Disk Format (UDF)

Posted on Posted in TechBlog

The Universal Disk Format (UDF)

The Optical Storage Technology Association (OSTA) has developed a file system format specification to address these problems of complexity and full data interchange. The goal of the OSTA Universal Disk Format (UDF) specification was to develop a practical subset of the NSR standard that would be much easier to bring to market, while also addressing how data is to be interchanged between systems. OSTA specifically defines what information shall be recorded on disk for a particular operating system and how other systems are to treat this information.

UDF was developed by an industry consortium of leading technology companies in the computer storage industry including: HP, Microsoft, Philips, Sony and IBM. Numerous experts have invested significant time in developing a document that would meet the above objectives. As an industry consortium OSTA is not hampered by the restrictions placed on International Standards Organization (ISO) standards. This fact has allowed OSTA to develop a specification that is a significant advancement towards the goal of data interchange between operating systems.

The Ideal Choice for Archiving

Ask yourself these questions:

  • What operating system will I be using 10 or 20 years from now?
  • What hardware platform will I be on?
  • If I store massive amounts of data today, what will I do if I can’t read it on my machine of tomorrow?

Chances are you cannot answer these basic but very real concerns with total certainty this is the very reason UDF was developed. UDF provides the long term assurance that your archived data can be read many years down the road thus protecting your valuable information while maintaining full compliancy with regulations and laws governing information retention.

ISO standard optical media gives the assurance that you can access your data in a wide variety of different optical drives. The ISO standard NSR file system gives the assurance that you can have data interchange among today’s wide variety of different operating systems and the operating systems of tomorrow. Optical storage standards provide assurance that today’s data will be available beyond tomorrow.

UDF Features:

  • Built on the foundation of the ISO/IEC 13346 standard:
  • A practical subset of the ISO/IEC 13346 standard;
  • Fully compliant with ISO/IEC 13346.
  • Simple and universal, defining support for multiple operating systems:
  • Defines what information must be stored on disk by all operating systems;
  • Defines what information must be stored on disk for each particular operating system;
  • Defines how information stored on the disk by one operating system is to be processed by another operating system;
  • Provides support of, and data interchange among, the major commercial operating systems, including:
    • DOS
    • Windows
    • Linux
    • OS/2
    • Macintosh
    • UNIX (POSIX)
  • Expandable to include support for future operating systems.

UDF has been selected as the file system for 2nd generation high capacity CD-ROM, CD Recordable and CD Erasable disks. This includes Digital Video Disc (DVD), the first consumer application use of 2nd generation CD-ROM. Through the use of UDF, DVD entertainment based and computer based content can reside on the same disk and be accessed by a wide variety of computer systems as well as the consumer DVD player in the home. UDF was designed to meet the mass storage needs of a global community well into the future.

Application Level Interchange

Once you have sector and file interchange you can move data among different optical drives on different computers with different operating systems. File interchange allows you to see the same directories and files on the different computers. The next level of data interchange is Application Interchange which deals with the file formats supported by the individual application.

For example, assume that you have sector and file interchange between a PC running DOS, and a Macintosh running MacOS. You can copy files to an optical disk on the Macintosh, bring that disk over to the PC and see the Macintosh files when listing the appropriate directories. Assume further that you used a database application called ALPHA on the Macintosh to create the files on the disk, and you wish to read access those files on the PC using a database application called BETA. Unless ALPHA and BETA use the same file format, you will not be able to read the data written by ALPHA with the BETA program. To have interchange between applications, they must use the same application standards and the same file format.

There currently exists a wide variety of file format standards that allow application interchange. There are database file format standards such as DBF, DIF and RTF. There are image file format standards such as TIFF, PCX, GIF and JPEG. There are audio file format standards such as WAV and VOC. Applications that support standard file formats will be able to interchange data at the application level.

Optical Storage Overview

Posted on Posted in TechBlog

Contents

  • WORM Optical Storage
  • So what’s wrong with tape?
  • Data Safety Push
  • Do Laws Exist for Admitting Optically Stored Records?
  • The Future of Optical Storage
  • Additional Information on Optical Technology

It may sound strange, but the first optical recording technology was invented about 5000 years ago, when the Egyptians started using hieroglyphic and alphabetic writing systems.

Writing allowed storing, retrieval, and duplication of data without errors (except for misspellings and misunderstandings). Today’s meaning of optical data storage refers to storage systems that use light for recording and retrieval of information. Photography was the first example of optical data recording in the modern sense. The first photographs were developed about 200 years ago and represented an analog optical storage, which has a limited application for information storage since it is difficult to interface analog data with machines, plus there is a continuous degradation of data at every step of reading and writing. But, light can be easily used for digital information recording, especially since the invention of the lasers.

Optical recording was for a long time, and is still, considered a future replacement for magnetic recording. Optical recording systems potentially have much greater reliability than magnetic recording systems since there is a much larger distance between the read/write element and the moving media. Therefore, there is no wear associated with repeated use of the optical systems. Another advantage of the optical recording systems over the best performing magnetic recording systems – hard drives – is their removability.

Optical drives of all kinds operate on the same principle of detecting variations in the optical properties of the media surface. CD and DVD drives detect changes in the light intensity, MO drives – changes in the light polarization. All optical storage systems work with reflected light.

A convenient way to define tracks on the optical disks is by using pre-grooves. These are created by etching, stamping, or molding the substrate. The bottoms of the grooves are used as a storage medium, and the grooves are separated by lands. But, the lands could be also used as a storage medium, instead of or together with the grooves. The groove depth is based on the laser wave-length and, typically, equals 1/8 of the wavelength of the laser beam.

Another way to define tracks and provide servo information for the drive’s electronics is to use a so-called sampled servo, where the tracks are defined by occasional marks placed on the substrate at regular intervals. The marks define the outer limits of the track and help to position the laser spot on the track.

It is usually desired in optical recording to achieve the smallest laser beam spot possible, since the spot size is a measure of the bit size, which defines the aerial density of the storage system. The spot size also affects the resolution of the system (smaller is better).

Where and why should we use optical storage?

WORM Optical Storage

Thanks to numerous Wall Street scandals and tighter regulations across a number of industries, IT managers are being forced to account for, preserve and, on demand, restore data. This has created a big market for WORM optical storage systems. For financial services companies, the Securities and Exchange Commission’s SEC Rule 240.17a-4(f) created a requirement forcing companies to store data (e-mail and business records) on non-rewritable and non-erasable media. SEC Rule 240.17a-4(f) also requires that duplicate storage media keep track of the time and date of each data item for the required retention period.

WORM optical technology can also help organizations come into compliance with HIPAA (Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act). For example, according to HIPAA guidelines, patient records must be kept in secure data repositories and retained for two years after a patient’s death. Although HIPAA does not specify any particular technology for doing this, the act’s security requirements (preventing records from being altered) and mandated retention periods suggest that WORM optical storage be used to protect records.

During the past year, a number of WORM optical storage systems have emerged that will help meet the needs of IT managers challenged with meeting any number of business and regulatory requirements. Optical storage, a mature technology with which many organizations are familiar, remains the most popular WORM solution. CDs and DVDs live in the low end to midrange of the optical storage market, with a host of available library devices to take care of disk management.

While Magneto-optical disks are more expensive than DVD or CD media, they do have a higher level of reliability, which is why they are often found in government agencies and financial institutions as well as being the storage medium of choice for medical imaging.

WORM optical makes is the ideal storage solution for companies that have to archive a large amount of data for multiple years and be able to retrieve it within minutes, WORM optical is the proven technology for long-term storage.

So What’s Wrong With Tape?

For many years, IT managers have leaned on tape backups as the cornerstone of their disaster recovery and data protection infrastructure. Tape won’t be going away any time soon, but changing business environments and the need to come into compliance with a variety of new regulations are forcing IT managers to rethink their strategies for data protection.

Although tape is a reliable and portable media format, it does not meet all the current needs of customers. For years, the term “archival” was used to describe data that was in its long-term, decreasing value stage, and was most often stored on optical media. Today magnetic tape is not a suitable solution for Information Lifecycle Management (ILM) Archiving applications based on the fact these applications are driven by databases that randomly access content, this content could be an E-mail, attachment or other document(s).

Tape cannot realistically support this type of random-access requirement. Additionally, tape solutions have a long history of reliability issues and should only be considered in backup applications that typically do not require random-access. Over-positioning a magnetic tape solution within a database/random-access driven archive applications could have serious performance, availability, reliability consequences. From a compliancy requirement standpoint tapes are magnetic by design a WORM tape cartridge can be easily erased via a standard bulk erasing tool or other electronic mechanisms. WORM tape does not stand up to the compliancy test for; Non-alterable, Non-erasable media.

The changing business and security climate has made WORM optical-based storage more compelling for many organizations. Regulations from the SEC, specifically SEC Rule 240.17 a-4(f), and the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act have a number of rules regarding document retention and preservation. WORM storage systems help IT managers address many of these, including guidelines for e-mail, financial records and patient information.

Even if your company is not required to meet any of the guidelines mentioned here, it’s a good idea to audit your technology systems and data retention practices to see how they would measure up. New regulatory deadlines loom all the time-with the first Sarbanes-Oxley Act deadline just around the corner-and you never know when these or other guidelines will affect your industry.

Data Safety Push

Business practices and regulations have evolved in such a way that it is now necessary not only to have geographically dispersed copies of data but also to have non-rewritable and non-erasable media to protect it. Here are examples of regulations that suggest or require better data retention and protection.

  • The SEC’s Rule 240.17 a-4(f) calls for organizations to store business documents for no less than three years while keeping data in an accessible place for two years.
  • HIPAA has a number of guidelines for document retention and security. Although WORM is not specifically named, it is very often the best choice for preserving the integrity of data for several years.

Do Laws Exist for Admitting Optically Stored Records?

Yes! In all fifty states there are laws that provide a solid legal foundation for admitting optically stored records in court. Although the specific legal basis may differ from one state to another, in most states it is found in the Rules of Evidence. It also can be in the statutory laws.

The key part of the Rules of Evidence provides for the admissibility of “data compilations.” This term was introduced into evidentiary law to describe machine readable, computer processed information. It was included in the 1974 revision and the 1975 revision of the Federal Rules of Evidence.

WORM optical technology is so “trusted” there are laws and government requirements enforcing its use to ensure the safe, unalterable and reliable archive of data.

The Future of Optical Storage

While today there is a complete range of optical media formats including; WORM, DVD-ROM, DVD-RAM, DVD-R, DVD+R, DVD-RW, DVD+RW, CCW,CD-ROM, CD-R, CD-RW, Ultra High Density Optical (UDO), Magneto-Optical (MO), Professional Disc for Data (PDD) as well as the latest advances in optical storage; Blu-ray BD-R and BD-RE discs in 25GB, 50GB and upcoming 100GB capacities.

A bright future in optical storage is assured as StorageQuest is working closely with industry visionaries such as the Blu-ray Disc consortium and InPhase Technologies‘ 3D Holographic Storage. By providing our unified storage solution as these products come to market, it insures a compliant archiving roadmap for many years to come.

Additional Information on Optical Technology