A pilot project was initiated in 1993 in the City Clerks Office using Excalibur Technologies Inc.'s EFS™ document management solution on a Digital Equipment Corporation VMS platform. The pilot ran for three years and worked effectively.
In the interim, a major strategic decision was made to migrate from the VMS system to Windows NT. Optical storage was chosen as the media to store the online data for the following reasons:
Department of Airports
This remote site was responsible for a variety of activities that generated considerable record keeping. Large financial/accounting and leasing activities related to airport activities constituted the bulk of the document storage requirement. A system was required to store and manage and retrieve on demand these documents. Most of the storage requirements would be based on new requirements, but some strategically important historical data would be scanned and inputted into the system.
A KOM imaging reseller, Sunbelt Data systems, was responsible for supplying the HP Optical Jukeboxes and the KOM jukebox management software. Sunbelt, founded in 1981, is a systems integrator providing high-end network and storage solutions to its clients in the government and commercial arena. Sunbelt was involved in supplying the City of Oklahoma with the HP NetServers 6/200 LX PRO SMP during the city's NT migration program.
Hewlett-Packard Storage Systems Division is part of the multinational Hewlett-Packard Company, whose Optical Jukebox product line has set the storage industry standard for overall market share.
KOM Inc. is a software developer whose mass storage and enterprise-wide information management solutions are recommended by the industry's leading optical storage manufacturers (including HP).
The critical requirements for the optical storage system to perform to the City specifications were:
"KOM Software provided a transparent connection between the server and the optical jukebox."
All read requests are processed through the cache drive. If the requested data is not found on the cache drive, the OptiStorm™ software will automatically find the data in the jukebox. The optical platter with the data is loaded into one of the four drives and the data transferred to the cache disk.
"Most recently accessed data was maintained on the cache drive for immediate retrieval"
In summary, OptiStorm™ software was the only product available to deliver the transparent connectivity required for the HP NetServer and the optical jukebox. With the cache drive, the jukebox was able to provide quick access to all online documentation sourced through the Excalibur search and retrieval system.
Department of Airports
Again, the critical requirements for the optical storage system to perform to the city specifications were similar to those of the Water Department, with the exception that this site was remote and network access was required.
The Lessons Learned
The importance of planning is critical to the successful implementation of a network-wide information management system. The support provided by software vendors is critical to this process. "We enjoyed working with KOM. The personal touch during the critical installation stage was very professional, enthusiastic and very rare these days," comments Victor Harris, president, Sunbelt Data Systems.
The successful installation demonstrates that optical storage systems can be integrated with document management systems to provide a fast, yet economical solution. Jukeboxes may not provide the same access speed as a RAID disk storage sub-system, but properly configured, optical storage can provide acceptable performance and save money for the user. The use of a tape solution (DAT or DLT), while an economical solution, would not provide the online access required by the city of Oklahoma City.
Richard Game, VP Sales & Marketing for KOM Inc.