Facebook using Blu-ray archive for ‘cold storage’

Digistor Enterprise Archive

Facebook has demoed a prototype Archive Solution for “cold storage” at this years Open Compute summit. Currently, the system stores 10,000 Blu-ray discs that holds a petabyte of data and is highly energy efficient. However, this configuration has been blamed for Facebook going down from time to time.

“Blu-ray discs are a good option for cold storage because they cost less to buy than hard disks and there’s a lot of room for manufacturers to increase the storage density of Blu-ray”, said Jason Taylor, Facebook’s director of infrastructure.

Read more about the design and features of Facebook’s Archive Solution at pcworld.com

Digistor offers industrial and enterprise customers Blu-ray based Archive Solutions for cold data and offline storage. Visit our Enterprise Archive page for more information.

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Cloud storage reliability questioned following service outage

Hosted storage solutions may experience significant outages.

One of the major appeals of cloud storage is its convenience. When these services are working properly, users can access their data and files at anytime, regardless of their location. Many service providers make big promises regarding availability, vowing to maintain a strict adherence to uptime. In practice, however, not every organization is able to keep those promises. Outages and service downtime have become a fact of life within the cloud storage industry, reinforcing the need for individuals and small businesses to have a physical alternative waiting in the wings.

Cloud storage disruptions are not limited to small-time, fly-by-night providers; according to CRN, some of the most widely used services – including Amazon Web Services and Yahoo Mail – have suffered substantial periods of downtime. Even when using a respected and established vendor, users should plan for outages to occur. In all likelihood, at some point, cloud users will run into trouble with the hosted storage solutions.

The most recent service disruption affected Dropbox, a cloud storage service provider popular with consumers and business users alike. According to Myce's Jan Willelm Aldershoff, Dropbox went offline for approximately two days, preventing clients from reaching their hosted data. Although company officials stressed that the incident did not affect the integrity of their customers' stored files, concerns abound regarding the potential for similar events to occur in the future.

Dropbox users look for alternatives
VentureBeat's Jordan Novet reported that numerous Dropbox customers took to the Web to voice their complaints over the service disruption. He noted that many individuals vowed to cancel their subscription with the service provider and pursue alternative storage solutions.

"Now that syncing is finally working again, I can begin migrating my data to another service," one user stated, according to Novet. "I expect better customer service for a product that is twice as expensive as Google Drive and Skydrive. My subscription is up in the next month but I won't be renewing."

Even those who choose to continue using cloud-based storage solutions may harbor some concerns regarding the reliability of the technology. Two days is a long time to go without access to critical files and documents, and cloud users may want to have an on-site alternative ready to go when the next outage occurs. Physical data archiving solutions can be extremely beneficial, allowing individuals to backup their most vital information in the event of a data loss incident. By supplementing cloud-based options with these tools, both business users and consumers can rest easy knowing their most important files will be available at a moment's notice.

Some of the most reliable data archiving solutions on the market today operate on Blu-ray discs. This media format offers a durability that cannot be matched by many other available archiving tools. In addition, due to the cost-effectiveness of Blu-ray technology, users can scale their efforts up or down, depending on their individual needs. If a person wishes to backup a large volume of documents he or she can simply insert another disc once one has reached capacity and continue the archiving process. The combination of durability, scalability and cost-effectiveness makes Blu-ray a leading format for data archiving tools.

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Ubuntu adds TRIM support for SSD drives

Ubuntu support for TRIM will bolster the performance of SSD drives.

Solid state drives are becoming more viable storage devices as the technology continues to advance and adapt to emerging user needs. Many organizations have been upgrading their components to suit modern devices and ensure that users can utilize their machines effectively for years to come. Ubuntu in particular has been making critical adjustments to support TRIM technology, allowing the provider to gear up for a mobile initiative in the near future.

Devices are increasingly incorporating SSD drive interoperability in order to provide more storage options for users other than traditional hard drives. TRIM allows the operating system to automatically tell the SSD what data is not necessary and can be erased or over-written. Without this feature, the SSDs would run slower and would not last as long as ones that were enabled, according to Engadget. With TRIM, the SSD will not have to do as much writing, which will boost the drive's lifespan, prolong performance degradation and increase performance speed. Both Windows and Android developers have enabled their products, and while Linux incorporated experimental support in 2008, the technology was not enabled by default due to efficiency issues. However, despite the delay, Ubuntu 14.04 will finally have the feature as a standard and help drive the organization's push into the mobile market.

"At present, when the OS deletes a file, only the file allocation table is updated to flag the space formerly used by the file as 'unused,'" according to Myce's Jan Willem Aldershoff. "The problem here is that when this space is later overwritten, the SSD must first erase the blocks before it can write new data to them, which causes write performance to decrease. With TRIM support by the OS and drive, previously used empty space would no longer need to be erased before being written to."

Choosing a solid state drive
SSDs are quickly becoming a more integral part to device operations not only for computers, but for emerging mobile devices and new technologies as well. The SSD is becoming a standard alongside the hard drive, but there are crucial differences that users must recognize in order to utilize the parts effectively. According to Tom's Hardware, because the data is stored with NAND flash, the low power consumption, high data rates and enhanced I/O performance are just a few of the advantages that owners will be able to leverage. While these devices have traditionally been costly, the increasingly smaller manufacturing nodes are helping to improve storage density and cut manufacturing expenses, making them more viable for business use.

When comparing HDD to SSD, many users are beginning to choose the latter for their PCs and other devices. SSDs can import a substantial amount of data and speed up application processing for I/O-heavy programs like Windows' boot-up. These types of applications often don't work as well with hard drives, so the SSD's quick speeds are essential for these instances. The SSDs are also more robust and efficient than hard drives, making them an asset to the business.

"SSDs draw a few watts at most. Hard disks, however, can draw 10 W or more during sustained head movement," according to the source. "Modern SSDs don't even really get warm. Disk drives, on the other hand, often necessitate cooling. While normal front-to-back circulation through your case may be enough, the heat dissipation of your hard drive is something to think about as you build your system."

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Blu-ray remains influential for Xbox improvements

The Xbox One has a Blu-Ray drive to handle the massive file demands.

For the better part of the past two months, gamers have been using their next generation consoles and figuring out what the systems are really capable of handling. While the Xbox One has taken significant strides from its previous iteration, that also means that program technology must follow. This can include more sophisticated graphics, larger file sizes and management of complex workloads. At the same time, however, because of these more intensive elements, game information takes up more space on the hard drive and memory components, limiting capacity capabilities.

The Xbox One has been touted as one of the most advanced gaming consoles to appear on the market, and one choice to save the disc drive has become a critical move for Microsoft. The manufacturer’s infamous E3 announcements created significant backlash revolving around various features, including the potential for complete removal of the disc drive, Digital Trends reported. This was ultimately deemed to be unfeasible due to the massive requirements that the new games would bring to the stage. Microsoft included a Blu-ray drive in its system that would allow users to install a lot of content and still have enough space for additional games.

“Obviously, after the announcement and E3, there was some feedback about what people wanted to change,” Microsoft Studios head Phil Spencer said, according to the source. “There was a real discussion about whether we should have an optical disc drive in Xbox One or if we could get away with a purely disc-less console, but when you start looking at bandwidth and game size, it does create issues.”

Until these bandwidth issues are addressed, disc-based media such as Blu-ray will continue to lead the way on high-quality video game consoles. Given the increasing size requirements outlined by today’s most popular games as well as the limited availability of bandwidth, a wholly network-based system is simply impractical at this point. Blu-ray’s massive storage capacity places it head and shoulders above any other format – physical or digital. Blu-ray’s position as the premiere media platform appears to be secure for the foreseeable future.

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Keep marine navigation equipment afloat with high-performance SD cards

Fishermen rely on sensitive equipment to navigate waters and identify schools of fish.

Marine fishing has been a cornerstone of civilization for thousands of years, contributing to the growth of coastal communities and laying the foundation for numerous local and national economies. Despite generations of experience and millennia's worth of technological advancement, fishing operations are still beholden to a number of environmental factors outside of their control. Wildlife population numbers can fluctuate across the globe and within a smaller coastal zone, limiting the opportunities that mariners have to net a large haul. Given the capricious nature of fishing expeditions, it's important that ship captains have access to high-quality navigation and fish-finding tools to aid their voyages.

Along the California coast, for example, industry observers have expressed concern regarding the fallout from a recent drop in local sardine population numbers. According to the Los Angeles Times, the Pacific Decadal Oscillation – a recurring climate cycle which has decreased ocean temperatures along the West Coast – is thought to have created an inhospitable environment for sardines, driving many of them out of the region. A recent examination of the local population found that it has been reduced by 72 percent since 2006.

"The Pacific sardine is the ocean's quintessential boom-bust fish," the news outlet stated. "It is short-lived and prolific, and its numbers are wildly unpredictable, surging up and down in decades-long cycles in response to natural shifts in the ocean environment. When conditions are poor, sardine populations plunge. When seas are favorable, they flourish in massive schools."

This uncertainty has made life difficult for many sardine fishing crews, as they waste time and resources trawling the coast for remaining fish. One fishing boat reportedly spent 12 hours and $1,000 worth of fuel on a recent voyage only to return without having netted a single fish. The drop in sardine population could affect other areas of the local fishing industry as well, as the fish serve as a main source of sustenance for other life forms.

Eliminate wasteful efforts with better equipment
Under such stressful fishing conditions, crew members should have every technological resource available to make the most of a given expedition and increase their chances of reeling in a big haul. Fish finding devices are critical in this regard, giving fishermen a glimpse into wildlife activity beneath the waves and reducing the amount of time spent trawling barren waters.

Keeping this equipment functioning optimally is vital to the success of a fishing operation, so mariners should be sure every internal component is of a high quality. One of the most important pieces within many marine navigation devices is the SD card. Having the capacity to quickly read and process data is essential when operating sensitive machines such as those used on fishing boats. NAND-based flash memory has emerged as the most reliable and expedient method of processing and storing information. By installing a high-quality SD card, fishermen can ensure that their fish finders and other navigational devices run consistently and accurately, increasing their likelihood of finding schools of fish.

When operating equipment is in such rugged and demanding conditions as those experienced on a fishing boat, only the most durable hardware will be able to survive the elements and continue running as needed. Panasonic's line of industrial-strength SD cards features water, impact and temperature resistance capabilities, making them ideal for utilizing on the deck of a ship.

Extend benefits to other critical hardware
SD cards can also be used to power a number of other vital marine navigation tools including vessel transportation systems, GPS plotters and satellite compasses. According to Cactus Navigation & Communication, satellite compasses offer far more reliability than traditional navigational tools. Magnetic compasses can be unreliable when near metallic objects and almost completely lose their functionality in polar regions. Meanwhile, satellite compasses utilize GPS technology to identify a ship's heading, making them more accurate guiding tools. Installing a high-performance SD card will ensure that these sensitive instruments continue to run effectively and keep a ship on course.

It can be challenging for prospective SD card adopters to wade through the multitude of options and hardware variants. In addition to single-level cell and multi-level cell versions, SD cards also feature a wide range of speed and storage ranges, as well as compatibility requirements. In order to get the most value out of these devices, users should go through a vendor that can clear up any confusion and help identify the most appropriate solution. DIGISTOR's data storage experts are available to provide insight into the world of industrial-strength SD cards and assist individuals struggling to make the right decision. This way, users can be sure they are getting the most bang for their buck. As a reputable purveyor of Panasonic's industrial SD cards, DIGISTOR has the know-how to examine a given customer's needs and identify the best tool for the job, leading to greater operational performance.

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Meet the demands of smart grid technology with high-performance components

Smart grid technology can improve the distribution of available energy.

One of the benefits of the rampant technological progress experienced over the past several years has been the widespread availability of data. Information has always been a valuable asset for organizations, but the recent influx of data has led to new opportunities to improve a wide range of institutions and services. The use of information within utility environments and energy systems remains one of the most promising forms of data analytics emerging today. With the help of new data points, organizations can develop smart grids capable of providing real-time access to numerous metrics and insights.

The benefits of such a drastic infrastructure overhaul have even caught the attention of the federal government. The Office of Electricity Delivery & Energy Reliability noted that many utility companies continue to rely on manual data gathering processes which have not changed substantially in approximately 100 years. However, these organizations now have the technological resources to collect this information from a variety of sources with much greater ease. This way, utility companies can more efficiently use available electricity and provide better services to the nation's populace.

"[Computerizing the electric grid] includes adding two-way digital communication technology to devices associated with the grid," the agency stated. "Each device on the network can be given sensors to gather data (power meters, voltage sensors, fault detectors, etc.), plus two-way digital communication between the device in the field and the utility's network operations center. A key feature of the smart grid is automation technology that lets the utility adjust and control each individual device or millions of devices from a central location."

There are numerous benefits to smart grid technology beyond the increased data visibility, including boosting cybersecurity, more effectively using renewable energy sources and easily integrating new components with the grid. Given the advantages to transitioning to a smart grid system, federal and state government entities alike have taken steps to facilitate this development. For instance, Congress passed legislation in 2007 to further support the Department of Energy's efforts to spread smart grid infrastructure across the U.S.

Push for smart grid tech continues
On the state level, numerous government bodies have pushed privately owned utility companies to pursue smart grid technology. For example, Massachusetts' Department of Public Utilities recently directed the state's major utility companies to submit detailed plans outlining their intentions to transition to smart grid systems over the next 10 years. According to Greentech Media's Jeff St. John, these documents are required to include information regarding a wide range of features such as automated meter reading, outage detection and power quality.

One of the main benefits to smart grid technology is the capacity to better control the distribution of electricity and prevent expensive blackouts from occurring. Writing for National Geographic, Massoud Amin, professor of electrical and computer engineering at the University of Minnesota, stated that power outages cost the U.S. economy anywhere from $80 billion to $188 billion each year. Modernizing energy grid infrastructure would address many of the issues contributing to these electrical disruptions.

LiveScience's Marc Lallanilla reported that emerging smart grid technology possesses a "self-healing" capability that would allow systems to automatically identify power failures and minimize their effect on end users. Amin explained that this feature could even go so far as to eliminate any adverse results from a potentially severe energy fluctuation.

"The self-healing grid can reduce power outages, minimize their length, detect abnormal signals (whether it's cyberattacks, material failure, human error or a storm that is beginning to blow), make adaptive reconfigurations to the system and isolate disturbances to eliminate or at least minimize their impact on the larger system," said Amin, according to the source.

High-quality assets needed for smart grids
Smart grid technology is incredibly complex, however, requiring organizations to ensure that every component and part is providing optimal performance. Furthermore, given the reliability and durability demands of these systems, only the highest-quality equipment should be implemented so as to maximize the hardware's shelf life. These needs extend to even the smallest pieces within smart grid systems, including SD cards. Flash-based NAND memory has long been used by industrial operations because of its substantial performance benefits and ability to withstand harsh operating conditions. These same features make the platform ideal for smart grid deployment, but utility operators will want to be sure they have the right tools for the job.

Panasonic's line of Industrial SD cards represent the new benchmark for storage devices of this kind. With error detection and correction capabilities along with bad block management features, these tools offer unparalleled reliability when in operation. Furthermore, static wear leveling helps these devices to keep running for years, reducing the amount of maintenance required for complex systems such as smart grids.

DIGISTOR is one of the premier providers of Panasonic's high-performance SD cards, with industry experience that customers can lean on in order to make an informed investment. With DIGISTOR by their side, utility operators can be sure that they have just the right components to power their energy meters, power control systems and other smart grid equipment.

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Enhance the performance of transportation equipment with embedded SD cards

Chicago's problematic Ventra system highlights the sensitive nature of mass transit equipment.

Most commuters don't concern themselves with the underlying components powering mass transit systems – that is, until malfunctioning equipment causes service disruptions. The fare systems operating within the nation's major transportation projects have become increasingly complicated, incorporating new payment methods and features. However, this growing complexity also creates additional operational concerns, as the slightest hardware error can result in significant performance problems and commuter delays. For critical mass transit equipment to run as needed, operators must ensure that every internal component is of the highest quality and offers unparalleled reliability.

The Chicago Transit Authority's Ventra program represents the latest transportation debacle in the United States. Since the system's rollout in October, commuters have reported a number of performance issues ranging from card readers not registering at turnstiles to customers receiving overcharges on their accounts. In many instances, CTA officials have simply allowed individuals to bypass the payment process and board their bus or train without paying. According to the Chicago Tribune, CTA personnel doled out approximately $1.2 million in free rides over a nearly three-month period. Although Cubic, the vendor tasked with maintaining Ventra's fare-collection equipment, has agreed to cover these expenses, this revelation highlights the continuing problems plaguing the system.

The initial rollout was so problematic that CTA officials opted to delay a full-scale transition until Cubit had met certain benchmarks with Ventra's performance. The Chicago Sun-Times reported that although the company has since met several of those guidelines, vending machines responsible for providing residents and travelers with commuter passes have failed to reach the 99-percent functionality goal set by the CTA. In some instances, individuals have been unable to add money to their accounts with these kiosks, preventing them from using the city's transportation system.

Boost equipment performance with quality SD cards
Given the highly critical nature of this equipment, it's essential that every piece of the machinery runs effectively and reliably. A core component within transportation hardware such as pass-vending kiosks is the SD card. These devices use NAND flash memory to quickly process data and facilitate better equipment operations. Mass transit organizations that cut corners with their SD cards may be increasing their likelihood of encountering extensive and costly service disruptions. Because these components must provide a high level of durability and performance, installing industrial-strength tools is often the most effective solution. Vending kiosks and other transportation machinery run night and day in both hot and cold environments, requiring rugged hardware capable of withstanding a wide range of operating conditions.

Panasonic's latest line of Industrial SD cards offer the durability required to keep critical machinery up and running for as long as possible. Because commuters rely on this equipment to get to work every day, even temporary outages will be met with a strong public backlash. This means that transportation organizations need to implement devices that are guaranteed to stay operational for years on end. The Auto Refresh and static wear leveling features built into each industrial-grade SD card ensures that these tools enjoy a long shelf life.

When installing devices that are so crucial to the performance of sensitive machinery, it's important that organizational leaders choose solutions that best meet their needs. This isn't always easy to ascertain for those unfamiliar with flash-based memory storage, but a trusted provider such as DIGISTOR can help clear up any confusion.

DIGISTOR personnel have years of experience bringing high-quality data storage solutions to organizations spanning numerous industries. Given the many different form factors and complexities of mass transit equipment, it can be difficult to be certain that a particular SD card will be compatible with legacy hardware. DIGISTOR's expert staff can help organizations navigate their various options and land on a solution that will rise to the occasion.

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US cloud storage concerns continue to grow

Security concerns continue to plague cloud storage options.

Since the cloud first hit the scene as a viable form of data storage, American vendors represented a significant portion of the marketplace. Organizations across the globe looked to U.S.-based cloud service providers to host their corporate data, including sensitive and highly valuable information. This past year, the cloud community received a wake-up call when details about the NSA's extensive surveillance program emerged. Following the revelation that the U.S. government was covertly spying on a number of organizations through online connections including cloud services, foreign company leaders began to extract themselves from any contracts they had with American service providers.

According to Bloomberg, several organizations in Canada and the U.K. have formally prevented signing any future service-level agreements with U.S. cloud providers. The news outlet cautioned that the fallout from the NSA program could result in losses totaling billions of dollars in the American tech industry. Wired noted that many large cloud vendors have begun beefing up their data security efforts in response to concerns about the integrity of hosted information in the U.S. However, cultivating confidence with prospective clients may be a difficult feat to accomplish, as many organizational leaders remain skeptical that these efforts will be successful.

"The issue here is the same as it has always been," Wired stated stated. "Can the Googles and the Microsofts finds ways of engendering confidence in their cloud services? Can they convince the business world that their services offer reliable protection for the data they house? Can they effectively push back against government efforts to take hold of that data – push back not only technically but politically?"

Secure data with on-site storage
Given the continuing concerns regarding cloud-based storage options, it may be wise for organizational leaders to consider on-site solutions. Depending on the size of a company, viable options can vary. For instance, small businesses may want to pursue disc-based archiving solutions such as DIGISTOR REWIND, which can offer a secure and simple method for backing up valuable information without having to worry about unauthorized users gaining access. Because this product uses high-performance Blu-ray discs to store documents on, business owners can write as much data as they please. Once a disc has reached its maximum capacity, another one can simply be inserted and the archiving process can be resumed. This way, data storage efforts may be scaled up or down based on an organization's current needs. The combination of simplicity, security and scalability make DIGISTOR REWIND an ideal archiving solution for small businesses everywhere.

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SSD drives provide options for photographers in the field

An SSD drive can provide a portable backup solution for working photographers.

Mobile photographers often worry about whether they will have enough room on their memory cards to complete a job. One way to alleviate this dread of filling up a card is to have an SSD drive on hand to store files as they are created.

Portability has not always been the defining characteristic of commercial SSD drives. In the past, the devices may have been problematic to use in the field. However, DIGISTOR's external SSD solution provides a portable and easy means of storing photos while in the field. The ultra-compact drive is small enough to fit in a user's pocket, but is capable of speeds of up to 400MBs per second when  it is hooked up to a USB 3.0 port on a laptop. The drive is powered through the USB connection, making additional power drives or adapters unnecessary.

Revolutionary SSD
The advent of commercial SSD drives in recent years has helped to change the way that data is stored, overshadowing the much slower hybrid hard drive storage options that had previously dominated the market. SSD and flash storage have both entered the mainstream by providing a more efficient solution than their predecessors, Jim O'Reilly wrote in InformationWeek. SSD drives were initially introduced in 2007 but rollout was slow as the technology had to overcome design problems and applications that were designed for use with HDD. Today's SSD drives offer users a robust and versatile storage solution.

Adoption has picked up to the point that flash and SSD are mainstream. Sales volumes doubled in the first quarter over the same period last year and growth tripled year-over-year by the third quarter. Advances in the technology and the storage space offered have been a substantial help, as SSD drives have outstripped HHD storage in terms of cost and performance.

SSD drives offer versatility that cannot be matched by other storage options, particularly for photographers in the field. The convenience and speed provided by DIGISTOR's External SSD USB 3.0 drive allows professionals to store their data as they work, letting them erase their memory cards as needed without fear that their images may be lost.

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