Storage trends

CobraBoy! (
Wed, 11 Jun 1997 08:12:05 -0700

StorageTrack draws industry elite

By John Poultney (

Monterey, Calif. - More than 400 storage industry movers and shakers
convened here last week for Dataquest Inc.'s StorageTrack '97 conference.
The annual two-day event focuses on technical trends and market directions
that will influence the course of the storage industry during the coming

Aside from technology demonstrations, the conference featured speeches on
topics such as how storage companies will keep parity with other hardware
vendors as the world becomes ever more digitized - and as users seek places
to store seas of information for instant retrieval.

Mary Bourdin, a senior industry analyst in Dataquest's Computer Systems
and Peripherals Group, looked at the capability of optical technologies to
meet user needs. In particular, Bourdin examined the expected impact of the
Digital Video Disc (DVD) - and the less-publicized but more available
CD-ReWritable - on industry stalwarts CD-ROM, CD-Recordable and
magneto-optical storage.

Bourdin said she is not convinced that DVD will have the impact predicted
by some analysts. "Certainly DVD will be popular on the consumer side and
in the SOHO (small-office, home-office) market," she told MacWEEK, "but
that's just one side of the picture."

In the corporate arena, she said, DVD's unimpressive access times (200 to
300 milliseconds) will make it unattractive for networked storage devices.
"In corporations, the trend is toward LAN-based storage, not stand-alone
desktops, when you're talking about referential data," she said.

Bourdin pointed out that still-unfinished standards and expected high
costs of DVD-Recordable and DVD-RAM systems will likely slow the adoption
of these technologies by corporations. Additionally, she predicted that
DVD-Recordable and DVD-RAM may face stiff competition from two other
technologies - the MO7 standard and near-field recording.

MO7, an updated version of the popular MO standard, is so named because
the media is planned to have a capacity close to 7 Gbytes per side on 120mm
media. (The first generation of DVD promises 4.7 Gbytes per side.) Dan
Dalton, strategic technical marketing manager for Fujitsu Computer Products
of America Inc., said, however, that the actual capacity of MO7 will likely
be closer to 6 Gbytes per side.

MO7 drives, being developed by a consortium that includes Fujitsu, Sharp
Electronics Corp., Imation Corp., Olympus America Inc., Sanyo Electric Co.
Ltd., Philips Electronics NV, Hitachi Ltd. and Sony Electronics Inc., will
be compatible with DVD-ROM and CD-ROM, Dalton said. Expected in early- to
mid-1998, the devices will support direct overwriting and provide seek
times of less than 30 milliseconds. Given MO's proven stability as an
archival medium, Dalton said, MO7 may prove extremely popular with
corporations requiring speed, compatibility and capacity.

Near-field recording, a technology being pioneered by San Jose,
Calif.-based TeraStor Corp. (see 03.17.97, Page 4) touts drives with
20-Gbyte capacity per surface in 5.25-inch form by early 1998. TeraStor
Chief Operating Officer Amyl Ahola explained how the company intends to
realize its vision by leveraging existing hard-drive and MO technologies to
make "bigger, faster and cheaper" devices of the removable and fixed

Ahola said Terastor will build Ultra SCSI-3, Fibre Channel and 1394 - also
called FireWire - versions of the drives, and will license its technologies
as soon as possible.