Without fanfare Sony has quietly discontinued their AIT line of data storage products according to a message on their storage website. This announcement impacts thousands of Sony customers and quite a few of our own who have used AIT as a video archive and back-up system to back up video content from a broadcast automation system, video on demand library, an archive of public meetings or other unique local content.
AIT, known as Advanced Intelligent Tape, was first launched in 1996. New generations of drives and tape cartridges were introduced over the years that provided faster back-ups and larger video storage capacities with each iteration. One of the key advantages Sony provided was backward and forward compatibility which enabled users to upgrade their drives without having to convert existing archives to a new generation to maintain access and continuity. This feature saved countless hours and money because content stored on an early version of AIT did not have to be moved to a newer version.
Unfortunately the archive and backup industry has faced this problem many times before as multiple tape and optical disc formats have come and gone over the last 20 years and every time this happens it starts a process of identifying the next best format and every user of a discontinued format must migrate all of their content from the dead format to the new format.
If a migration from the old format to a new format is not done it produces a condition called DataRot. DataRot occurs when a format changes and through the attrition of equipment (i.e. the drives are no longer available) the data becomes useless, an orphan on a dead format with no way to transition to a new home. The millions of VHS tapes in homes, schools and cable access stations across the county will become victim to DataRot as VCR’s are no longer being manufactured. Once the existing supply of VCR’s disappears anything remaining on tape is lost forever because there will be no equipment with which to play the tapes.
Now that Sony has discontinued AIT every existing user must determine how and when to move the data from their existing AIT tapes to a new home. Key considerations include:
- Estimating the future growth of your video content over the next few years for planning purposes,
- Determining what archive route to take for the future and,
- When to begin the migration process…the longer the delay the more risky the proposition.
Because there are many areas to include we will devote several more articles to this process over the next few weeks as a way to sort out the issues and explore the various options available to anyone who might be caught in a potential DataRot situation.
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