PowerFile adds Blu-ray technology to storage appliance

Abandons DVD optical storage system to gain capacity, cut power needs

PowerFile on Monday announced that it has added Blu-ray disk technology to the latest version of its Active Archive Appliance, part of an effort by the vendor to move beyond the limits of DVD in scaling the optical-based storage offering.

The Active Archive Appliance Enterprise Edition, or A3, utilizes Blu-Ray media from Panasonic Industrial, which boosts the optical storage density in the appliance to 120TB per appliance. The new version is now shipping.

Jonathan Buckley, vice-president of marketing for PowerFile, said the company expects to further boost the capacity of the appliance to 160TB in six months. Previous versions of Active Archive, which used DVD technology, supported only 12TB of data per rack, he noted.

The company said the updated appliance is positioned as an alternative to disk-based archiving systems for storing fixed content.

Jason Lewis, IT manager for Erickson Productions,, has been running A3 in production for about a month, after a successful beta trial. He said he has the online storage system configured with two storage libraries holding 200 media disks apiece, providing his Macintosh environment with about 40TB of capacity to store space-hungry stock photography images and files.

Lewis said he was a bit 'leery' of using systems based on the standard DVD format to archive images and data that is infrequently accessed due to concerns about density.

"There's just no use to having all the spinning disks for images that are not regularly accessed, not to mention the electricity costs to keep that much disk spinning for no need," said Lewis. "It made sense to stick it on a permanent [archive] solution."

He said that it is also important that the Blu-ray technology is non-proprietary.

Prior to installing the A3 system, Erickson Productions had all its data backed up on RAID spinning disk, often stored on attached drives that were spread through the company's facilities.

Buckley said that A3 does not serve up Blu-ray or tiny disks such as old 'jukeboxes' used to pop into a network, but rather serves up volumes much the same as a network attached storage (NAS) filer system does.

"Optical and enterprise storage in the past has failed miserably for many reasons. Many of those reasons we've addressed here," said Buckley. "We've changed the way this plugs into a customer environment. They don't have to think about optical, the day it's plugged in, it looks and acts and feels like a NAS filer to a user or an application."

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