Orbital Data speeds images with network appliances

July 30, 2004

Orbital Data of San Mateo, CA, has begun promoting a hardware/software package designed to speed the transmission of large data files, including medical images, over long distances. The product, called Orbital 5500, includes small appliances that sit on

Orbital Data of San Mateo, CA, has begun promoting a hardware/software package designed to speed the transmission of large data files, including medical images, over long distances. The product, called Orbital 5500, includes small appliances that sit on both ends of a network link. With the company's proprietary software loaded into the two boxes, an Internet link is better utilized to transmit data faster and more predictably.

"We're making the network perform much better than it normally would," said Richard Pierce, CEO of Orbital Data.

The company began shipping its data accelerators in January 2004 and currently has 16 customers in such key markets as digital asset management, disaster recovery, and collaborative engineering. No healthcare facilities have yet purchased the product. However, several regional providers have expressed interest, Pierce said.

The company plans to begin marketing to large medical centers, physician groups, and imaging centers, which typically send and receive images over long distances.

"I would expect medical images to be a primary application," Pierce said. "Archiving and retrieving information can be very difficult. There's a tremendous cost savings by making storage needs more efficient."

The time is right for such booster appliances. The continuing adoption of equipment that generates ever larger quantities of data has put a premium on data management. The need is exemplified by 16-slice CTs, which can produce up to 2000 images in a single exam. When diagnoses must be performed over a long distance, the capability to transmit a high volume of images quickly is critical. With the advent of 32-, 40-, and 64-slice scanners, the need for speed is becoming all the greater.

Typically, the speed of image transmission depends on several often-unpredictable factors, including the distance a file must travel, bandwidth, and file size.

"Our technology safely inspects the entire flow of data and takes over congestion control and management," Pierce said. "With this, we can take 20-year-old transmission algorithms and bring them into the 21st century."

The Orbital Data boxes are placed between the transmitting and receiving computers on a network. The first box receives the file and sends it on to the second box more efficiently than could be done with conventional technology.

"We fill the pipe-we send the image across the network in a different way than it's historically been sent," Pierce said.

The product was built from the ground up, Pierce said. Rather than implement old school congestion control algorithms, the company developed modern algorithms while maintaining backward compatibility with existing protocol standards.