New Colorado company to focus on rugged COTS data storage

BOULDER, Colo. — Veterans of the data storage community are forming a new company to provide ruggedized commercial off-the-shelf (COTS) data storage systems.

Jul 1st, 1999

New Colorado company to focus on rugged COTS data storage

By John McHale

BOULDER, Colo. — Veterans of the data storage community are forming a new company to provide ruggedized commercial off-the-shelf (COTS) data storage systems.

The new storage devices from Vanguard are for engineers of military, aerospace, and applications who are concerned with harsh environments with shock, vibration, and temperature extremes.

Vanguard formed in 1998, yet its engineers have been working with COTS mass storage devices "since they were called non developmental items or NDI," says Phil Loudin, founder and president of Vanguard.

Loudin claims his company`s engineers have more than 50 years of combined experience in designing and ruggedizing COTS mass storage devices.

Loudin is concentrating on rugged COTS, because he says he believes that COTS represents practically the entire market. Some deep space-programs still require custom, military-specific devices, but they cost around $300,000. The majority of designers in the market, he says, want to spend much less.

Loudin says customer support is where his company will focus. Vanguard is a company run by engineers, that employs engineers, and sells to engineers, he says. "We will work with customer from start to finish," Loudin claims.

The major technological trend involves the short life cycles of most of these products, Loudin says. The average life cycle of a magnetic disk drive is about 12 to 18 months, while tape and optical devices last about two to three years, he adds.

The best way to combat the obsolescence is through technology insertion, Loudin says. In response, Vanguard gives each product plug-and-play capability, Loudin claims.

Vanguard Rugged Storage`s product line includes rugged hard drives, rugged magneto-optical drives, and rugged tape drives. Rugged solid state, rugged CD-ROM, and rugged DVD drives will be available later this year.

Rugged mass storage devices are COTS hard disk drives, optical drives, tape drives, and solid-state drives which have been re-engineered and modified to operate in hostile environments. These devices can withstand severe shock, vibration, heat, cold, moisture, high altitude, electromagnetic interference, and high acceleration.

Vanguard`s newest offering is a 50-gigabyte rugged hard drive, the VRH-50, which is available in a fixed or removable enclosure in the 5.25-inch full-height form factor. The drive can support either the SCSI II or Fibre Channel interface.

Burst data transfer rates are as much as 100 megabytes per second, with sustained rates of 10 to 17 megabytes per second. The VRH-50 is rated for temperatures ranging from -20 to 55 degrees Celsius.

Vanguard engineers are also working with members of the Linear Tape Open (LTO) Consortium to offer rugged tape drives based on the new LTO tape recording format.

The planned VRT-200 will offer a capacity of as much as 200 gigabytes with burst data transfer rates as much as 50 megabytes per second and sustained transfer rates of as much as 20 megabytes per second.

These drives will use eight parallel data channels to achieve this performance. The VRT-200 will be packaged in a 3/4 air transport rack form factor enclosure.

For more information on Vanguard contact Phil Loudin by phone at 303-412-2455, by fax at 303-449-5376, by e-mail at sales@vanguard-rugged.com, or on the World Wide Web at http://www. vanguard-rugged.com.

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