The new writable disk formats HD-DVD are fast and boast impressive storage capacity. So do they have a role in your data centre?
Today, the answer is probably "No."
That's because there is a disturbing shortage of hardware for the new standards. Players are freely available for consumer purposes, but these are intended for movie playback rather than data storage.
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A few 5.25in drives have reached the market and are intended for inclusion within a PC. A smattering of external drives are on sale too. But SearchStorage.com.au has been unable to find evidence of business-grade optical disk libraries that would let end-user organisations treat Blu-Ray or HD-DVD as near-line or archival storage.
A spokesperson for Hewlett-Packard told searchstorage.com.au that "HP's Storageworks division do not have products that support these formats and have yet to include these in upcoming products."
Searchstorage.com.au approached other jukebox vendors including Pioneer and several others. None indicated if or when they will deliver products for the new media, save for JVC which issued a statement to the effect that "JVC intends to release a Blu-Ray DVD [sic] jukebox in early 2008. We do not have any specs or additional info at this stage."
Searchstorage.com.au has been able to identify only two devices that can store Blu-Ray disks. One is Imation's Disc Stakka, a $185, 100-disc library intended for consumer use as a CD library. The device ships with its own database software and offers search facilities for data entered about each disk. When you wish to access a disk, you instruct the software to eject it and manually insert it into a drive.
Five DiscStakkas can be stacked together and share a single USB connection, making this a way to store a lot of HD-DVD or Blu-Ray disks.
Another is Centurion's DiscHub, a $699 machine with many of the same functions as the DiscStakka, but with the useful addition of a CD and DVD reader/writer. The Diskhub can therefore become a more permanent home for 12 centimetre disks. The machine can store Blu-Ray and HD-DVD disks, but once again relies on manual entry of data describing each disk and its contents. And of course it cannot yet read either new format.
Until at least 2008, this leaves both formats at the mercy of manual archiving processes, scarcely the best way to preserve mission-critical information.
Tomorrow: What you can buy today