New CD Technology Gives Your Customers What They Want
If new standards are adopted, VARs will be able to offer a universally accepted solution for CD recording.
Business Solutions, February 1998
Beyond ISO 9660
The ISO 9660 standard is adequate for mass producing CDs. For example, a software company may record its latest software on a CD and then ship it to resellers or stores. However, most users want to record information on a CD a little at a time, instead of all at once. For instance, a user may want to store a document on a CD on one day and then store a scanned image on the same CD the following day. The ISO 9660 standard was not developed for this type of "incremental recording."
Because most users need to incrementally record, a new set of standards has been developed for this task. The standard is called Universal Disk Format (UDF) and was developed by industry experts who form the Optical Storage Technology Association (OSTA). The goal of UDF is to create a standard for incremental recording to a CD which can then be read on any CD-ROM drive. It would essentially allow users to record on a CD as if it were a hard drive or floppy disk.
Companies Need Incremental Recording
Two authorities in the optical storage industry agree that the acceptance of UDF standards will have a great impact on the optical storage industry. "Companies, both large and small, are using CD as a storage medium in jukeboxes to archive photos, data, and documents," states Gary Brach, president of Smart Storage. His company produces software for network-based CD storage. Lynn Hogg, director of marketing at iXOS Software, agrees that there is a large market for incremental recording in a jukebox environment. "Companies want to be able to read and record incrementally in a jukebox and very few vendors have been able to provide this solution," states Hogg.
The Adoption Of UDF Standards
In order for UDF to become the standard of choice for incremental recording, a computer's operating system must use this standard. In other words, Microsoft must adopt the standard. "UDF might be a great standard, but until Windows NT or 98 incorporates the standard, you can't take advantage of all of the features," states Brach. "Microsoft is incorporating parts of the UDF standards in the latest versions of NT and 98." According to Hogg, it will be a few years before Microsoft completely adopts the UDF standards. "Microsoft is planning to integrate most of the UDF standards in Windows NT 6.0, but that operating system won't be available until at least 1999," states Hogg.
UDF - A Standard For The Future
The emergence of a new storage technology could force quicker adoption of UDF standards. As pervasive a technology as CD is today, both experts agree that it will eventually be replaced by the digital videodisk (DVD). A DVD is identical to a CD in appearance, but has seven times the storage capacity of a CD. CDs can be read by a DVD-ROM drive, but DVDs cannot be read by a CD-ROM drive. UDF is being offered as a standard for incremental recording for both CD and DVD. The new standard would provide a clear migration path from present CD technology to DVD technology.
According to Brach, DVD-ROM drives will begin to replace CD-ROM drives in PCs within the next year. "PC manufacturers and Microsoft are both very interested in offering the consumer DVD technology," states Brach. "PC manufacturers want to add DVD drives to give consumers a reason to buy a new computer. Microsoft wants to use DVD to increase a program's functionality." Because of DVD's increased storage capacity, the disk can easily store video information. For example, in the future a user may view an instructional video as part of a program's help menu.
CD Is A Technology Of Today
DVD promises more storage than CD, but it may be a while before it can deliver. "There are millions of CD-ROM drives in the market today and tens of thousands of CD-ROM drives are being shipped each month," states Hogg. "There will be some people that will throw away CD in favor of DVD, but this number will be very small." Brach agrees that CD will remain the storage medium of choice for a while. "Many people will find that they don't need the higher storage capacities that DVD offers. It will probably be five years before DVD replaces CD," states Brach. "CDs will be like the 5 1/4-inch floppy disk. They will be replaced, but it will take some time."
Hogg believes that VARs should be aware of the UDF standards and the coming of DVD technology, but still must rely on solutions that are available today. "If a large company has a storage problem today, that company is not going to wait until new solutions and standards are developed. VARs that are always waiting for the next, great technological breakthrough will not be in business very long," states Hogg.