Optical Storage

Reliably storing archival data

Optical storage is a no contact media that allows data to be written using a laser beam. There are currently different types of optical media available CD, DVD or Blu-ray for storing data. The most common technology readily available today is Blu-ray and the media holds up to 1,500,000 A4 pages on a single 100GB disc. The technology is designed to store important data including documents, music, videos, pictures, scans or any other important assets that need to be retained for 50+ years.

Optical Storage

If you want to remove the hassle and headache of moving information from technology A to technology B every few years for “Cold Storage or Long Term Storage”, then an optical storage makes sense. As mentioned previously an optical archiving solution is an expensive upfront cost, overall an optical solution will save money compared to other storage methods.

Optical storage access

The optical storage systems we provide are primarily Blu-ray based and sit on the network as a NAS. Each Blu-ray disc can represent a different drive letter when the disc is full or closed the jukebox adds the next piece of media to the Blu-ray disc pool i.e. drives letter F: could have 50x 100GB media associated with it. You control through active directory or LDAP who has access to the data and control who can read or read/write media. Every file that is written to the Blu-ray disc is stored in a database and searching for a specific file takes seconds. To access a file on a disc that isn’t loaded in a reader takes no more than 15 seconds to access.

Some of the storage solutions we provide have RFID chips in the Blu-ray disc magazines and should you remove a magazine from the library it automatically updates the data that the magazine has been removed along with its contents. You can even specify a location to where that removed magazine has been stored.

Data is available 24x7x365 and consumes very little power to operate and maintain.

Data Security

Optical storage is essential to forensics and legal investigations, providing an effective way for preserving and presenting digital evidence. CDs and DVDs are employed to store images, videos, and audio recordings in a format that prevents tampering and maintains data integrity. Evidentiary material held on these discs is traceable, ensuring the chain of custody is kept unbroken during court proceedings.

Cost savings

A Blu-ray jukebox storage solution is a long-term investment as it costs more than comparable disk subsystems and LTO tape technologies.

  • Does not require environmental controlled conditions, unlike tape, normal office cooling is fine.
  • Eliminates the requirement to continually migrate data to the next generation of technology.
  • As the data is not magnetic and no contact assets won’t degrade, unlike hard disks or tape.

Data format

The limiting factor when using LTO as an archive media is that the technology will read up to 2 previous generations of tape and can write only 1 previous generation. Therefore companies investing in an LTO archive are every 5-8 years having to re-write all their data to a newer tape format in order for it to be read at a later date. Blu-ray isn’t like this if you write in UDF 2.0 or higher any Blu-ray reader in a PC or notebook can read the disc contents as this is an open standard. A Blu-ray reader can read/write all of the following:

  • CD/DVD discs
  • Blu-ray 25/50/100/125GB discs
optical jukeboxes

Unlike LTO optical storage UDF 2.x does not require special software to read the Blu-ray discs.

Why archive to optical storage?

If you work in an industry that needs to retain information for decades then an optical media solution could work for you.

Below are some of the industries using optical media storage?

  • Film industry – For storing finished movies and original rushes
  • Healthcare – Patient records, X-rays, scans
  • Legal – Case documents, historical data
  • Aircraft – X-ray scans of aircraft engines and frames, supply chain documents, build/service documents
  • Space – Similar use case to the above
  • Financial – For storing transaction data of trade movements over the course of a year
  • Transport – Storing CCTV footage both inside and outside the vehicle
  • Property – Pictures and land registry documents
  • Automotive – CAD designs, X-ray images, supply chain documents
  • Oil exploration – Storing video archives and drilling data
  • Insurance/Assurance – Maintaining clients records and history of products and documentation
  • Housing – For storing tenant information including bills, payment records
  • Scientific – Bio Science, Pharmaceutical or any other research establishment that is carrying out trials on drugs, DNA or medicines.
  • Social media – Facebook is using Blu-ray for Cold Storage of information

Understanding information

The biggest headache for global companies is data identification and classification.

Once you identify the types of data you have classified, then you can deploy a system whereby data is automatically migrated through the storage tiers. The fundamental issue with this is that businesses tend to have issues with following:

  • Identifying data and who owns it, how long it needs to be kept, does it need to be deleted, this is by far the most difficult task of all.
  • Most businesses do not have a clear backup or archiving policy. Traditionally backup has been “back up everything and keep it forever”.
  • Many of the backup software packages do not have an archiving component.
  • Should you buy an integrated backup/archiving solution?
  • What data protection policies are in place for people that no longer work in the business?
  • Businesses tend to stick with backup software longer than changing operating systems

A tiered storage solution greatly reduces the workload by IT staff in locating and maintaining storage systems as well as saving money on high-performance systems storage.

Storage Tiers

Storing data in the cloud

Cloud storage costs are still falling and will continue to fall for the foreseeable future. It works and is available anywhere in the world so long as you have an internet connection and its on7x24x365. This is where the difference between Online, Nearline, Offline and Cold Storage gets blurred.

An optical based storage solution is designed to store historical data and critical information for decades and can be classed as a Nearline (not particularly fast compared to disk or flash storage) or Offline/Cold Storage the media is sitting in a jukebox not consuming any power or is removed and kept in secure storage. Cloud storage is designed to make the most recent data available to your staff to access. Cloud storage providers have different data classifications and tiers depending on how fast you need to access the information. The problem is do you really need to keep 20TB’s of archival data in the cloud and pay monthly storage costs for information that may only be accessed twice a year? The issue is that the type of data stored in an archive is of high importance to a business and therefore a valuable asset. No matter how secure your cloud storage provider claims your data is protected there will always be a nagging doubt about its security.

  • Have hackers gained access to this information?
  • What happens when the cloud providers increase charges?
  • How easy is to remove data from the cloud archive?
  • Has an “X” employee deleted historical data?
  • What jurisdiction do you have over the data?
  • Has your data been tampered with or encrypted?
  • How is your archive stored in the cloud?

Should you invest in optical storage?

Optical storage remains a viable choice for a range of industries and applications. Its high capacity, longevity, portability, and stability make it an excellent option for archiving data safely over the long term, media distribution, software distribution, healthcare imaging, document archiving, education, forensics and government use. As technology advances ever onward, new optical formats and technologies are being developed to expand its potential further. Thanks to its proven track record and adaptability, it provides a reliable route to secure data storage and preservation.

Call or contact us using the details below and speak to us about the type of optical storage you need for your business.

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