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RAID Storage--High-level Impact

October 1998
No longer a boring storage selection, today's RAID solutions are showing RAID, too, can be a glitzy technology with complex, surprising powers.


BY MARIE RANOIA ALONSO


Since an explosion of digital connectivity, asset management and electronic prepress technologies hit the printing industry like a Hollywood blockbuster comet, terms such as megabytes, gigabytes, terabytes and now even petabytes—all used to describe the size of digital storage needs—have filtered into the printing atmosphere.

A logical phenomena.

In the ever-dawning age of electronic prepress, functions such as RIPing a massive file, digitally archiving a file, or executing production of that file through applications like OPI and CTP can take up impressive volumes of digital storage space.

Purchasing one or a teaming of digital storage solutions to master these digital prepress applications is a mission-critical decision all on its own.

One such solution continues to be RAID (Redundant Array of Independent Disks) technology, which is based on multiple disk drives connected through an array controller. RAID systems permit digital data to be distributed across multiple physical drives with redundant disk capacity storing parity information to ensure data integrity and recovery in case of individual disk failure.

"Purchasing RAID storage, in particular, has become a strategic decision," reports Susan Leenerman, marketing director at Ciprico. "It's not just about the amount of storage you need. Each type of RAID has its benefits and its risks. RAID storage must deliver data as fast as possible and continue running at full speed when there is a drive or system failure."

So then, how best to maximize RAID and minimize the potential for lost digital assets? Leenerman offers the following tips.

  • Start with a thorough analysis of your own particular applications needs, looking closely at performance and capacity.

  • Think about what sort of redundancy features you might want. Redundancy is what RAID is all about. If a prepress operation is cost-sensitive, at a minimum, the RAID system needs to provide a parity drive. The disk drive is one of the most common components in a RAID system to fail. If a prepress facility can spend a little more, it can obtain a RAID box with hot-swap drives and power supplies to ensure that productivity is always up and running.

  • Determine the order of importance of the performance, capacity and redundancy. This, of course, depends on the prepress application. Performance measures the speed of transferring and receiving data to the server or desktop system. It can be measured by megabytes per second or by improved productivity. It varies from application and system configurations.
 

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