It's always tempting to look ahead and try to spot killer product X that will wipe out previous technology. In our storage arena much of the future is predictable. We can be pretty confident that Lto3 will beget LTO4 which will beget LTO5, etc. Single layer DVD will become double layer. Likewise perpendicular recording will increase disk drive capacity. But that capacity increase isn't as stable as tape. And optical disk futures are now looking cloudy as HD-DVD and Blu-ray are set to battle out the post-DVD future. Rotating disk futures are in a spin.

ON the hard drive front magnetic, physical and mechanical limits seem to come closer, close enough for one company to question the spinning platter idea. That is DataSlide which thinks a disk surface should (a) oscillate and not spin, and (b) not necessarily be disk-shaped either. It has just announced a raft of technology partners who have signed strategic letters of intent:-

- Corning Inc. for glass substrate,
- Physik Instrumente (PI) GmbH which is skilled in ultra-precise motion-control systems and piezoelectric NanoPositioning technology,
- PI Ceramic GmbH, a world-class supplier of high-performance piezoelectric actuators and transducer components and subassemblies,
- National Instruments which is skilled in measurement and automation,
- Unaxis Balzers Data Storage Solutions, the world’s leading manufacturer of total replication and coating solutions for optical data storage media like CDs and DVDs, and magnetic data storage like hard disks.

When you are a high technology start-up then obtaining technologoies you need is a crucial step. DataSlide has first round funding, creditable academic oversigtht and contributions, and is negotiating second round funding. Keep it on your future technology radar screen.

On the optical disk front there are developments in holographic storage that are equally well worth watching. The potential replacement of streaming tape with random-access spinning optical disk could revolutionise archived data access speeds and also backup and archiving software methods, evolved to write to a sequential access streaming media.