On Wednesday, Sony Corporation announced its acquisition of Optical Archive Inc, a startup known for its optical storage systems for the data center market. The financial terms of the deal has not been revealed.
The startup Optical Archive Inc., that was founded by Frank Frankovsky in 2014, uses Blu-ray disks in place of hard drives or tape to store files. The founder Frank Frankovsky is the former head of Facebook’s Open Computer server efforts, who quit Facebook in 2014. The startup was launched to sell customize hardware to serve large customers who wanted to access the stored documents easily and store the data they want to access later.
With this acquisition by Sony, OAI will get an advantage in its experience and capabilities in data center hardware design, supply chain operations and systems integration with Sony’s expertise in optical disc and manufacturing technology to develop new optical disc library systems that will match the technological needs from the growing cold archive market. ‘Cold archive’ is nothing but a class of data that has to be retained over a long period of time but is not accessed frequently like the cloud-based photo storage and legal documents retained for long periods. It is one of the biggest and fastest growing area in the storage market. This cold storage is accessible, scalable and cost-effective to store large chunks of data.
Terushi Shimizu, Senior Vice President and Deputy President of Device Solutions Business Group of Sony Corporation said, “This acquisition marks the beginning of our commitment to this growing market.” He also added, Optical disc libraries will provide many advantages to customers who are currently using the tape or hard drive technology to store cold data, such as lower costs, extremely durable media life and higher data throughput rates. We plan to leverage and expand our existing optical disc production lines in order to accommodate the growing demand for this media.”
The startup has so far no revealed its product plans but is expected to be unveiled soon. But has been working to increase the storage space. Frankovsky claims that it is soon to market Blu-ray discs that can store 300 GB. Another goal is to develop a jukebox-like hardware that can help in retrieving the data when needed.
However, a major supplier of tape cartridges and optical discs, Fujifilm Corp, disagreed with the notion that optical discs were superior for archival storage. There are already Blu-ray disc that can hold up to 1 terabyte , there are tape cartridges that can hold up to 10 TB of data said Peter Faulhaber, the president of Fujifilm Recording Media. Other researchers have also shown the possibilities of storing up to 220 TB in cartridges.
But Frankovsky states, “Hard drives are nearing the end of their useful lives in the data center.” He has predicted that companies would flush out hard disk drives and move to flash memory chips that are faster and have no parts to break down.
Sony with this acquisition plans to expand its current optical disc products and create new business products to fit into the demands of the corporate users. Frankovsky said, “They are thrilled to be part of Sony. Merging Sony’s excellence in optical engineering and manufacturing with OAI’s experience and capabilities in data center hardware design and operations will deliver innovative new storage solutions to customers. In the coming years, optical drives will be as pervasive as hard drives and tape drives.”