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Users Open Up on Optical

Alternatives to traditional disk-based storage and tape are gaining momentum. From Plasmon's Ultra Density Optical (UDO) disks to holographic technology from the likes of InPhase, a growing number of users are turning their attention to optical storage. As the market slowly emerges, though, some IT managers are concerned about optical cost issues and product roadmaps.

The chief advantage of optical storage over other techniques has been its WORM (write once/read many) capabilities. As an archive technology, optical storage has faster access times than tape and is cheaper than magnetic disk. (See Optical WORMs Into Enterprise.)

In the U.K., government mapping agency Ordnance Survey is using a 19-Tbyte UDO library from Plasmon to archive its data. "The main attraction is the lifespan of the media," explains Dave Lipsey, Ordnance Survey's information systems infrastructure manager, adding that UDO can last for around 50 years.

UDO, like Sony's obsolescent Professional Disc for Data (PDD) format, uses blue laser technology to improve capacity and lower the cost of magneto optical (MO) drives.

Thanks to the sharper focus of the blue laser that reads and writes to the drives, UDO disks can store much more capacity than older optical technology. They hold 30 Gbytes, where PDD disks stored 23.3 Gbytes. MO, which uses a red laser, maxes out at 9.1 Gbytes per disk.

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