New Storage Systems Debut At Comdex

Las Vegas

Data storage and management is a key issue across the board for everyone in the information intensive insurance industry–from carriers to brokers, to agents to third-party suppliers.

As the continuing crush of new data continues to challenge our ability to store and access it, vendors at Comdex Fall 2002, held here last month, were offering a variety of systems and devices to help meet that challenge in a variety of settings.

Ultera Systems, Laguna Hills, Calif., announced what it called a “breakthrough” as it unveiled Mirage, a scalable Virtual Tape Controller for enterprise data backup, restoration and archiving.

“The Mirage controller operates as a hard-drive-based virtual tape library, providing high performance backup and restore with instantaneous file access and a unique patent-pending embedded archive capability with seamless scalability,” said Ultera.

Both the SCSI (small computer systems interface) and fibre channel versions provide “extremely fast file access with measured times of [less than] 15 milliseconds, compared to several minutes or more using a physical tape library,” the company said. SCSI is a hardware interface that allows for connection of up to 15 peripheral devices to a single server. Fibre channel is a high-speed technology primarily used for transporting SCSI traffic from servers to disk arrays.

AutoArchive, a feature embedded in the Mirage controller, enables the controller to initiate and manage archive operations, said Ultera. The archive operation automatically moves data from the virtual library to a physical library. The controller manages all processes, including exporting of tapes from the library for off-site storage.

According to Ultera, Mirage can also make copies of backup tapes, and it supports all industry tape drives and tape libraries. “It supports investments companies have already made in tape drives, libraries and RAID equipment, as well as the application software they have already licensed and trained their personnel to operate,” said Mo Nour, president and founder of Ultera Systems. He added that the “Mirage VTC is the only one that allows users to keep their current configurations in place–no hardware changes (other than installing Mirage), no software changes, no procedural or policy changes.”

Ultera emphasized that Mirage is not meant to replace tape as a storage medium, “but to enhance its utilization within its current IT mission.”

Mirage VTC is packaged as a base hardware platform with controllers and various firmware options, the company said. Model VT2104, a single SCSI Mirage controller supporting 4TB (terabytes) of virtual storage capacity, has a list price of $23,300 and is currently available. Model VT2120, the fibre channel version, is priced the same as the SCSI model and will ship in mid-January 2003.

Details are available at www.ultera.com.

PowerFile Inc., based in Los Gatos, Calif., announced the PowerFile R200 Backup, “a high-capacity, low-cost optical library for network backup.”

According to PowerFile, the R200 is designed for small and medium-sized enterprises and utilizes DVD-RAM/R drives from Panasonic, as well as Back Again II software from CDS.

The complete library has a 1.7TB (compressed) capacity, and the R200s are scalable to 10TB (compressed) “by simply daisy-chaining additional units,” the company explained. The R200 Backup can hold up to 200 DVD-RAM discs. The unit connects to a backup server and is bundled with the network backup software, which supports all major Microsoft operating systems.

“In our recommended configuration, customers can back up at hard disk speeds and receive the quality random access and reliability of optical storage for about one-half of what a company would have to pay for an equivalent tape solution that would likely be slower and much less reliable,” stated Anders Axelsson, CEO of PowerFile.

Pricing details were not provided. Further information is available at www.powerfile.com.

Fujitsu Computer Products of America Inc. announced its new 2.3GB (gigabyte) magneto-optical (MO) removable storage drive, the DynaMO 2300U2.

According to San Jose, Calif.-based Fujitsu, the new product is designed for those “who require durable, high-capacity, cost-effective external storage for intensive digital audio and video, data backup, and demanding desktop applications at less than a penny per megabyte.”

The DynaMO 2300U2 is the external model of Fujitsus 2.3GB MO internal drive, which is currently used for backup and archiving in desktop publishing, medical imaging, telecommunications and government, said Fujitsu. The new unit will be priced at $349, with media priced at $20 per disk. The product offers an alternative to magnetic storage solutions such as Iomegas Zip and Jaz drives.

The new Hi-Speed USB interface on the DynaMO 2300U2 allows data transfer speeds of up to 60MB (megabytes) per second–”40 times faster than the data transfer using the USB 1.1 interface,” the company noted. USB (universal serial bus) is a hardware interface generally used for lower-speed peripherals such as printers and the keyboard.

The drive is supported as a Hi-Speed USB device on systems with Hi-Speed USB 2.0 running on Microsoft Windows XP Home Edition and Windows XP Professional, said Fujitsu. Third-party adapters may be used in other operating environments. It is also backward compatible with earlier versions of Fujitsus 3.5-inch MO disks in 128MB, 230MB, 540MB, 640MB and 1.3GB capacities.

Full product specifications are available at www.MOstorage.com.

Iomega Corporation announced its new Iomega Mini USB Drive, designed for storage in mobile environments.

This key-sized device, initially available in 64MB and 128MB capacities, provides software portability, as well as password-protected storage for transferring data between computers, said San Diego-based Iomega. The new unit enables users “to safely carry data and software applications between computers with nothing more than a drive the size of a car key,” explained Michael Johnson, product general manager, sourced products, for Iomega.

According to the company, the mini drive provides freedom from the cables, adapters, power supplies or batteries required by other storage devices. Users simply uncap the drive and attach it to an available USB or Hi-Speed USB port. The drive is automatically recognized as an external drive in Windows 2000, Me, XP and Mac OS 9.x, Iomega added. Windows 98 and Mac OS 8.6 systems require installation of a driver, which can be downloaded.

Iomega said the drive features low-power consumption and a sliding key ring design that allows users to keep the key ring with the drive while traveling and easily detach it from the drive when it is connected to a PC.

Both the Iomega Mini 64MB USB Drive ($69.95) and the Mini 128MB Drive ($99.95) are available at Iomegas online store at www.iomega.com.

TDK Corporation debuted its Armor Plated DVD discs, which it described as “premium quality recordable DVD media that incorporate next generation hard-coating technologies to achieve unprecedented durability.”

“Compared to standard blank media,” said Garden City, N.Y.-based TDK, “the new TDK Armor Plated discs provide a remarkable 100 times greater resistance to damage from everyday use such as scratches, dirt, fingerprints and other contaminants.”

When a DVD cant be accessed, “its because the disc is damaged or dirty due to mishandling or excessive wear,” said Rich Martino, TDK product manager. The new Armor Plated discs, he added, are “even more durable than pre-recorded DVD discs. In fact, in our lab testing, weve even tried to scratch them with steel wool pads–and write on them with permanent ink markers–and the discs wouldnt scratch, while the marker ink came right off.”

TDK added that because the armor plating treatment protects the recording layer, “it can prevent write/read errors, jitter or even drop outs in recording or playback.” The company said the new media carries “only a small price premium compared to standard recordable DVD media,” but pricing was not announced.


Reproduced from National Underwriter Life & Health/Financial Services Edition, December 30, 2002. Copyright 2002 by The National Underwriter Company in the serial publication. All rights reserved.Copyright in this article as an independent work may be held by the author.