Rorke Data markets Sony high-capacity tape libraries for PACS

November 1, 1999

Rorke Data markets Sony high-capacity tape libraries for PACSAIT stores more high-bandwidth images per tapeThe growing trend toward integration of healthcare information and clinical imaging systems in the form of electronic patient

Rorke Data markets Sony high-capacity tape libraries for PACS

AIT stores more high-bandwidth images per tape

The growing trend toward integration of healthcare information and clinical imaging systems in the form of electronic patient records is creating a new need for many hospitals and medical centers: the ability to store and easily access huge volumes of electronic data.

While storage technologies such as RAID (redundant array of independent disks), DLT (digital linear tape), and MOD (magneto-optical disk) have done a good job of meeting this need, a new medium has emerged on the medical scene that may offer a more cost-effective and scalable approach to high-speed data archiving and retrieval, especially for high-bandwidth image files.

Rorke Data, a data storage and management company in Eden Prairie, NM, has taken AIT (advanced intelligent tape) drive technology developed by Sony and turned it into a series of scalable libraries designed for image-intensive medical applications. Rorke, which will market this technology only through OEM relationships, plans to formally introduce its RTL library systems to the diagnostic imaging market at the upcoming RSNA meeting in Chicago through relationships with several PACS vendors.

The RTL series of AIT libraries incorporates Sony’s AIT2 tape drive technology, a second-generation AIT that is built on Sony’s MIC (memory in cassette) architecture. The MIC comprises a memory chip built into the data cartridge that holds the system’s log and other user-definable information, and provides high-speed access to data. Sony’s AIT design also incorporates IBM’s ALDC (advanced lossless data compression) technology to enhance performance and capacity.

Rorke’s AIT libraries are designed to meet the high-bandwidth tape storage needs of both large and small healthcare facilities and to facilitate the implementation of electronic patient records. Twelve models are available, with configurations ranging from 10 cartridges and a single AIT drive to over 360 cartridges and up to 12 drives. Depending on how many tape drives and cartridges are installed, the libraries have a capacity range of 250 gigabytes to more than 18 terabytes of uncompressed data storage, all with a data transfer rate of 6 megabytes per second.

More important, especially for smaller hospitals and clinics, the RTL libraries offer a high capacity for tape storage but a low cost per megabyte storage ratio, according to Aaron Blotsky, area manager for medical archive applications at Rorke. An entry-level (250-gigabyte) RTL library costs just $12,000; a 12-drive, 18-terabyte library costs $150,000.

“The RTL series is scalable, which gives PACS OEMs an opportunity to target clinics and smaller hospitals that do not want to buy a large archiving solution initially,” Blotsky said.

Other features include advanced interfaces for HIS/RIS connection, intelligent autorouting and prefetching capabilities, and a Web-based user interface for simplified system administration.

Picker a partnerWith AIT’s high-bandwidth capacities, scalability, and HIS/RIS integration features, Rorke sees PACS as a logical market for this storage technology. The company has already established partnerships with several PACS vendors, and at least eight PACS companies plan to demonstrate the RTL libraries with their products at the RSNA meeting.

Among those vendors is Picker International, which until now has been offering primarily DLT technology from StorageTek with its PACS. While StorageTek’s DLT has been reliable and installs relatively easily, the AIT offers larger storage media, meaning fewer tapes in some cases, according to Vickie Sims, sales manager, image management at Picker in Cleveland. The RTL archive is fully integrated with Picker’s HIS and RIS and interacts with its acquisition devices, diagnostic and clinical review stations, and image routing devices. The entire archive is based on a Sun Solaris host, an Oracle database, and various media options.

“For high-volume archives, DLT systems from StorageTek and AIT systems from Sony are the best alternatives,” Sims said. “But AIT stores more images per tape than DLT and provides fast access to patient data for quick distribution to the network.”