SmartStor Archive With DVD-RAM Support Helps Bowne Create Top Quality

When it's impossible to meet all deadlines and the jobs are piling up, some companies come to the conclusion that in order to keep up with the competition — and retain their sanity — the jobs must be outsourced to a professional company that can perform the jobs faster and, quite possibly, better. Tasks like financial printing, commercial printing, document management, Internet development and maintenance, and others are specialties of Bowne Technical Enterprise. Bowne serves industries from commercial banks, government agencies, and insurance companies to investment banks, law firms, and public corporations.

Established in 1775, Bowne is the world's largest financial printer and a global leader in management and dissemination of information. Combining the latest technologies with superior customer service, Bowne manages, repurposes, and distributes information to any audience, through any medium, in any language. Outsourcing with Bowne allows businesses to focus on their core practice and stay ahead of the competition.

Prepress Technologies is a department within Bowne Technical Enterprise, Bowne's internal technology support group, which serves the desktop publishing and printing needs of Bowne's offices worldwide. In 1999, more than $780 million of Bowne's $1 billion in revenues came from its printing operations. Needless to say, that's a lot of documents being produced on behalf of its clients and a lot of documents requiring a robust storage solution. The company requires a storage solution that can archive its files on removable media and provide file access for more than 100 of its desktop publishing operators. The storage software Prepress uses for managing its files is Smart Storage's SmartStor Archive. The technology the department uses is DVD-RAM.

DVD-RAM Solves Capacity Issue For Desktop Publishing
Prior to using DVD-RAM, Prepress Technologies used CD to store its digital assets, but as file sizes increased, Prepress realized it needed media that provided more capacity. According to prepress product manager Mike Marinos, the files created in Prepress range from 2 MB postscript files to 2 GB computer-to-plate files. "We are archiving all of our completed jobs and files that are desktop and Web related," says Marinos. "We used CD-R for awhile, but a CD-R disc only holds 650 MB, where as a DVD-RAM disc holds 2.6 GB." Marinos says that previous technology had required them to use a 500-slot CD-ROM jukebox-but now new installs will be equipped with 100-slot DVD-RAM jukeboxes with larger drives.

For the operators who access the archived digital files from a networked Cygnet 100 jukebox and use them in their desktop documents, there is no need to permanently store the files on their personal workstations. Instead, these files are copied from the media housed within the jukebox and temporarily stored on their hard drives. Once the original files have been modified and employed in the desktop documents, they can be restored to the DVD-RAM media and deleted from the operators' hard drives. As well, there is no risk of the files being lost in the event of a hardware crash.

Desktop Publishing Benefits from SmartStor Archive, Including Mac Support
Desktop documents created in the Prepress Technology division are born in a design area, where operators create the layouts with Macintosh and Windows Adobe applications such as Illustrator, Photoshop, FrameMaker, and InDesign, as well as QuarkXPress. When the layout files, which include text and intricate graphics, are complete, they are sent to a print production environment. Print Production then prepares file trappings and "font-relates" the files for final output to proof, film, and "direct-to-plate."

An extremely important component of the desktop/printing process is the work done at 10 SmartStor Archive servers nationwide. This is where administrators write the large text and graphic files to DVD-RAM in the Cygnet 100 jukeboxes. Housed securely in the jukeboxes, the discs are accessed by the operators at their own workstations via Windows NT and Macintosh services.

In archiving the digital asset files, an administrator uses SmartStor's Direct Write to drag and drop files to a staging area within SmartStor, where the files wait to be seamlessly written to DVD-RAM media. "To simply drag and drop for archiving and copying back is what I describe as simplicity of use," Marinos says. Once the desired files are compiled in the staging area, the archiving job is kicked off. Files can be written incrementally to DVD-RAM, but to maximize the servers and jukeboxes, administrators in Prepress set SmartStor's scheduling command, which allows for archiving during off-hours. "I set a job for archive," says Marinos, "drag the files into a designated archive folder, and schedule SmartStor to activate the archiving during the weekend."

Another important procedure the 10 administrators perform before the operators see the files is grouping them for easy location at the operators' workstations. Operators see the SmartStor drive letter within Microsoft Explorer. This single drive letter presents the available archives to the operators. They then drag the desired files from Microsoft Explorer, and drop them into a designated work folder on their image server. From the server, they manipulate the files they need for a job. Marinos notes that being able navigate in Windows Explorer is second nature to the operators, as "many of our operators are familiar with the Windows Explorer environment."

The final step of the prepress process before the desktop document files are sent to print production is writing the completed desktop document files to DVD-RAM. Operators or administrators place the files into a SmartStor Archive folder that is designated for scheduled off-peak writing to DVD-RAM. Many of the operators use Macintosh applications, but Marinos says writing files to DVD-RAM with a Windows NT product is a non-issue and works well. SmartStor Archive is compatible with the Macintosh operating system because it supports Macintosh resource forks and services for Macintosh, so the operator sees the system as a mountable hard drive. Because the desktop area of prepress is both Mac and NT based, compatibility is important.

Smart Storage Technical Support Keeps Things Running Smoothly at Bowne
In addition to the powerful SmartStor Archive features that help the Prepress Technology department store and access desktop document files, Marinos speaks of the people that make his job a little easier — Smart Storage Tech Support. "Support is terrific. Whatever questions I've had have been answered quickly, usually the same day. If they don't know something on the spot, they'll get back to me within a couple of hours. They've been willing to work with me until an issue has been resolved. From the beginning, I've had a dedicated technician for the entire install process, which made communication an ease and eliminated repetition."