Optical Storage Devices
Optical Storage Devices in Application-Based Storage Structures
Today there is a very broad range of optical storage media available for use in a wide spectrum of storage concepts. The misconceptions surrounding optical media, namely limited storage capacity, long access times, sensitivity to external influences, and high maintenance and handling costs, should be seen as little more than modern-day myths.
Fact: Optical storage is used today across virtually industry including manufacturing, public administration, the health sector, banks and insurance companies. If large amounts of data need to be stored for long periods of time in a reliable and immutable form that conforms to legal requirements, then an overall solution involving the use of optical storage media is almost always the best choice. It is also true that the development of optical storage technology is by no means over and that the costs for the use and maintenance of optical storage solutions are practically negligible.
It is not just the misguided debate regarding the supposedly high support costs for optical storage solutions that shows the urgent need for a more objective treatment of the issue, yet the debate is a particularly illustrative example of common misconceptions. This is particularly true regarding cost, namely the expenditure on software and hardware support, a professionally installed optical solution has considerable advantages over a hard disk-based system, especially when comparing the lifespan and stability of the respective media. (Which manufacturers can offer a 30-year guarantee for hard disks, as is the case for DVDs, or even 50 years for the now widely used Blu-ray Disc?)
On the other hand, hard disk-based solutions offer unbeatably fast access times for the storage of data with short life cycles. Thus in many practical situations the most obvious choice is to consider a combination of the strengths of both technologies as a possible solution. There are already very successful appliances that make use of a optical jukebox for long-term, complaint storage with capacities greater than 10TB with integrated RAID storage for high performance. There are also comparable hybrid solutions that make use of magnetic tape storage.
Despite all the practical advantages of tape or hard disk-based solutions, thought should also be given to the limitations of these technologies. However, the scope of this White Paper unfortunately does not allow for a more detailed discussion of the security costs and considerations of each system (such as replacing the tapes every two to four years, frequent integrity check, migration problems, etc.).