CES Becomes Enterprise Storage Showcase

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LAS VEGAS — The Consumer Electronics Show kicked off in Las Vegas this week, with as many as 140,000 people expected to view an amazing array of products. Maybe it’s because it’s the only show in town now that Comdex is gone, or maybe it’s because the need to store content from a variety of entertainment applications is making storage more ubiquitous, but for whatever reason, we found that among all the gadgets and baubles were nuggets of interest to enterprise storage users in computing, networking and entertainment.

The focus at CES’s Storage Visions Conference was on increased capacity, easy attachment, and innovative applications for content creation and storage. Straddling the ever-blurring line between consumer and business operations, product announcements and demonstrations offered excellent benefits to enterprise storage users with far-flung operations, the need to use innovative methods to store and protect digital assets, and regulatory and security concerns.

For enterprises with remote office backup needs, Seagate’s 400GB disk drive storage solution provides expandability to a terabyte-plus capacity, and comes complete with backup software. According to Brian Dexheimer, executive vice president of sales and marketing at Seagate, this drive is exceptionally easy to use and maintains Seagate’s signature reliability and performance.

Hitachi Delivers SATA II

Hitachi announced an expanded product line, with a new industry-first enterprise-class half-terabyte (500 GB) Serial ATA drive for audio/video and other capacity-intensive applications. The Hitachi drive delivers all of the major design enhancements identified in the SATA II specification, including a 3 Gb/s data transfer rate, doubling the previous SATA rate and rivaling the performance of enterprise-class SCSI drives. Bill Healy, senior vice president for product strategy and marketing, Hitachi Global Storage Technologies, reaffirmed Hitachi’s commitment to a comprehensive, diverse product line that spans from low to high-end and consumer to enterprise ATA applications.

SATA was also featured in an innovative storage application from Silicon Image. Steelvine SV2000 offers enterprise-class features, such as virtualization, RAID, hot-plug and hot spare, in a simple, affordable, reliable and scalable appliance solution. Leveraging a standard SATA interface, Silicon Image’s first system-on-a-chip (SOC) implementation of the architecture provides users with a sophisticated RAID solution that does not require special OS drivers or RAID software to load or configure. The server interface looks like a SATA disk drive and offers the power and intelligence of a full RAID disk array.

At the CES Digital Content Storage TechZone, a storage application from Ensconce Data Technology (www.ensconcedata.com) addressed corporate data security and information privacy in a unique way. Ensconce’s “Dead on Demand” technology allows for the complete and non-recoverable destruction of data contained on hard drive media from a local or remote location.

Dead on Demand drives are standard OEM hard disks that have been re-engineered to include Ensconce proprietary technology that physically destroys the media that contains the data. Surrounding this core process is a variety of user-configurable ‘triggers’ that activate the core process under a variety of conditions. Once triggered, all data contained within the device is made immediately unreadable, and within a few minutes, completely unrecoverable. Ensconce’s technology has applicability to both enterprise and remote locations in a variety of industries, from commercial to government to military.

Optical storage was also a big focus at CES, with major announcements by rivals Blu-Ray Disc Association (www.blu-raydisc.com) and the HD DVD Promotion Group (www.hddvdprg.com). Blu-ray Disc is a next-generation optical disc format being developed for high-definition video and high-capacity software applications. A single-layer Blu-ray Disc will hold up to 25 GB of data and a double-layer Blu-ray Disc will hold twice that. HD DVD is the newly developed high-definition DVD disc standard being developed at the DVD Forum. Single-layer DVD disks have a 30 GB capacity.

Both technology groups announced partnerships for content creation, authoring systems, and hardware creation. High-definition images create a much greater need for storage, according to Richard Doherty of Panasonic, one of the pioneers of Blu-ray. By using blue laser-based technology, optical laser discs can be produced that can hold six times as much as today’s DVDs.

With storage becoming an increasingly important part of consumer devices, it’s a safe bet that 2005 won’t be the last year we see enterprise storage vendors at CES.

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