Storage Management: CD-Recordable Technology in Banking

In the past few years, the range of applications for CD-ROM technology have grown more rapidly than the most optimistic projections anticipated. CD-Recordable (CD-R) is quickly becoming a leading storage technology, providing many advantages over competing storage and distribution technologies such as tape and Write Once, Read Many (WORM). These a dvantages include low cost, durability, permanence and the ability to randomly access data. The standards that have made CD-ROM so universal also apply to CD-R. Thus, data distributed on CD-R is as easy to access as data distributed on other mediums.

 CD-R in Banking

One market segment that provides compelling testimony to benefits of CD-R is the banking industry. In accordance with strict deadlines, banks and financial agencies produce an extensive audit trail to track daily transactions and other important check information. Journal adjustments, loan adjustments and balance journals are delivered to clients each day. Volumes of hard copy documents are manually entered into computers.

 Northern Trustís Experience

Northern Trust Bank Corp., headquartered in Chicago, is one of the nationís largest investment managers and a leading provider of master trust, global custody, retirement and investment services to corporate and institutional clients. As of Sept. 30, 1996, assets under management were $124 billion, total banking assets were $21 billion and trust assets under administration were $722 billion. In 1995, Northern Trust embarked on a project to replace microfilm for disbursing paid check information to corporate clients. The replacement needed to address a number of microfilmís shortcomings, including limited resolution, difficulty in cataloging images, slow search and retrieval, limited storage capacity, and the requirement for a large and expensive viewing system. Northern Trust needed a solution that was easy to use, did not require special viewing and provided high storage capacity. CD-ROM/CD-R technology was the solution for Northern Trust. Using CD-R discs solved the issue of media standardization. By creating ISO 9660-compliant discs, they can be read by any standard CD-ROM reader connected to virtually any computer platform. Northern Trust uses two Unisys SMP 5400 workstations running UNIX SVR4 for information management. For CD-R, they selected a CD Studio system from Young Minds, Inc, complete with a disc autoloader (the Kodak Disc Transporter), Kodak 6x CD Writer and disc label printer. The printer allows Northern Trust to customize each CD-R disc by printing its corporate logo, client account number and CD-ROM volume number directly on the disc. CD Studio attaches directly to the Unisys workstation and can record both local and networked data. Recently, in anticipation of expanding customer demand and an increase in applications, Northern Trust decided to upgrade its CD Studio system by purchasing two Mass Production Systems (MPSes). MPS uses multiple premastering engines working with a 6x CD writer and autoloader. This high-volume CD-R systems allows for economical enterprise-wide CD-ROM production. MPS is intended for applications that produce large amounts of data that must be distributed within a limited time.


Donald Berk, head of product management at Northern Trust, expects the newest equipment to provide the capacity to author 400 CD-ROMs within five business days. According to Berk, CD-ROM/CD-R has helped Northern Trust improve the quality and accessibility of the information it delivers to its clients.

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