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Storage comes out of the closet at RSNA 2000


ASP providers are not alone in identifying data storage as an inroad to new customers and real revenues. Stand-alone offsite data storage was a key marketing strategy for several PACS and information systems vendors at the 2000 RSNA meeting.

ASP providers are not alone in identifying data storage as an inroad to new customers and real revenues. Stand-alone offsite data storage was a key marketing strategy for several PACS and information systems vendors at the 2000 RSNA meeting. Citing the explosion of digital data, the importance of an archive as the first step toward PACS, and even the upcoming HIPAA rules, many firms were either introducing their own non-ASP storage products or announcing partnerships with storage market leaders in an effort to stay in the running.

Equipment-leasing firm Comdisco has stepped firmly into the data storage ring. Comdisco rolled out its suite of storage and access management services at the RSNA show, directly targeting the digital image distribution market. Through these services, the firm will plan, build, manage, and evolve hosted storage environments. The company has 48 data centers worldwide and offers 24/7 network monitoring through its Network Operations Center. The next step is to move beyond storage into applications hosting, according to Mike Kennedy, general manager of Comdisco's Healthcare Group. In addition, the firm has signed joint marketing agreements with Siemens, Agfa, and Mitra Imaging that will increase its penetration in the digital imaging marketplace.

In its first solo appearance at RSNA (having completely absorbed Data General and discontinued selling PACS equipment), EMC launched a new healthcare vertical market initiative by showcasing its ability to connect to a wide variety of server platforms and operating systems. The data-storage powerhouse is marketing its Symmetrix and ClariiOn storage platforms and Rich Medical Integration Platforms for medical imaging data storage and distribution. EMC has already signed on to provide the archiving portion of GE Medical's ASP offering and to work with Philips in a similar capacity, and it plans to continue to expand its presence in the on-site and off-site storage markets.

Aside from an agreement with Philips, StorageTek kept a fairly low profile at the RSNA meeting. While continuing to tout its fibre channel tape drives and tape libraries, the firm has yet to make a ripple in the next-generation storage media or services markets.

In addition to ASP-based storage, Marconi Medical Systems showed its IntelliStore archive, which can use either Sony AIT or DVD media to house data. Marconi's base DVD system is priced at less than $100,000 and has the same tools as its main archive product. This means that systems shared by multiple facilities such as integrated delivery networks can have separate storage systems while maintaining a central distribution server.

Also on the hardware side, Rogan Medical Systems launched Multiple Archive Storage Server, designed to increase delivery speed of images to diagnostic viewing stations. MASS uses a redundant array of inexpensive servers (RAIS) to send images in parallel to a viewing station, which keeps the delivery of images in sync with the number of users to prevent service slow-downs. The firm plans to incorporate standardized wavelet compression once the technique is approved by the JPEG 2000 workgroup.

Rorke Data featured a complete line of Windows NT and Sun SME Linux servers integrated with fibre channel RAID (redundant array of inexpensive disks). The company also exhibited increased capacity (14 terabyte-plus) and Web-based remote management utilities for its ASACA TeraCart DVD-RAM libraries and Plasmon magneto-optical libraries with capacity up to 25 terabytes.

The plethora of storage offerings wasn't restricted to large-scale providers. ALI Technologies Introduced Instant Archive, a RAID-centric on-line storage system that provides immediate access to unlimited amounts of image data. Instant Archive can also be provided over an ASP. The Canadian firm has already found its first customer for the archive, Radiology Associates of Fort Worth, TX.

Imco debuted the first of its regional Secure Storage Centers, located in Wisconsin. The SSC provides secure electronic storage and backup of data, allowing customers to transfer their data to Imco for archiving. Customers can still have onsite RAID storage and opt to have their data shadowed to Imco's SSC. The data can be retrieved via a high-speed private network or over the Internet through a virtual private network. Imco plans to add more SSCs in other areas of the U.S.

FileLink, an OEM provider of medical archive software for DICOM-compliant data storage, announced distribution agreements with Mcurve, Microboards, and Globalstor. The firm also signed an agreement with Wam!Net to add Wam!Net's private global network and Wam!Base remote archive service to its medical storage management application. FileLink demonstrated a DICOM storage appliance that includes a server and two DVD-RAM libraries at the RSNA meeting in partnership with Rising Edge Technologies. The complete system is priced at $70,000 for 500 gigabytes to $150,000 for 2.5 terabytes.

The blossoming interest in storage has begun to attract companies that have until now not been part of the storage market. Merge Technologies, for example, is evaluating storage as a logical next step for its connectivity product line. The firm has already partnered with Stentor for ASP-based products, and storage could become a factor in boosting Merge's sagging bottom line.

© 2000 Miller Freeman Inc.
12/13/00, Issue # 118, page 1.

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