TSB banks on archive robot

Robot's power persuades bank to pollute Linux network

The capabilities of a DVD-duplicating robot when it comes to a big archiving job have persuaded the TSB Bank to attach a Windows-based appliance to its Linux-only network.

The Rimage DiskLab is currently being used to archive recent TSB data, making it available online to any branch. A project aimed at digitising material as far back as the last century – much of it previously only paper-based – is also being evaluated.

"Some of the old records are still referenced," says technical support spokesman Vince Martin-Smith. "But the main benefit is getting rid of the paper. It takes up a lot of real-estate."

However, go ahead for the historical project is "still not definite", he says. "It will take a lot of resources particularly in [document] preparation time."

The network-attached device has two DVD/CD writers, which also print a label on the top surface of the discs. It is also capable of full colour photographic imagery. The DiskLab is based on an embedded PC – a Windows system. The muted Microsoft presence was accepted "under duress", Martin-Smith says jokingly.

“I told Vince I’d get the Linux-Java version to him as soon as I could source it,” says Peter Irvine, director of the small Wellington distributor, MediaPoint.

MediaPoint has found a ready market for CD/DVD duplication and labelling devices that can be attached to a standalone computer or network. Clients include a church wanting to provide documents and picture collections to its members, which is pushing its low-end system to its limits, according to Irivne. Video production companies, educational institutions and TSB Bank also use the robot devices.

Irvine is puzzled as to why more organisations won't entrust their documents to convenient DVDs and CD-ROMs, which can be read by virtually any computer, but instead insist on carting them around on paper.

The MediaPoint range starts with the $320Copycat, designed to duplicate one disc at a time – Irvine calls it the “Luddite-proof copier” – and goes up to the Rimage range of network-attachable robots, which are capable of burning and colour-labelling hundreds of copies of an original.

MediaPoint also markets stand-alone disc label printers.

The Rimage robot uses only vertical motion to feed blanks out of the input hopper and completed disks to the output, while competitors combine vertical and horizontal movements. This results in alignment problems, which the vertical-only design does not suffer from, claims Irvine.

With a suitable script, a network-attached device can perform automatic back-up of all data on a network.

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