Low-Cost Digital Storage Fuels New Video Business Strategies

Phil Storey, CEO, XenData

Phil Storey, CEO, XenData

By Fred Dawson
 
April 19, 2013 – As content owners weigh best approaches to maximizing their flexibility to get the most out of their assets the opportunity to integrate low-cost massive digital storage into the day-to-day asset management workflow has become a potential game changer in the operations planning calculus.
 
For media concerns of all sizes there’s no getting around the fact that ready access to rapidly mounting volumes of new and old content is vital to exploiting all the ways now available through online, mobile and traditional TV outlets to increase returns on content investment. Disk-based storage satisfies the need for instant access but incurs huge costs once the amount of content that has to be positioned for quick use gets into the high multi-terabytes and petabytes.

A key mover toward more cost-effective solutions is XenData, a supplier of file-management technology based on use of LTO digital storage, an increasingly popular tape cartridge-based medium that enables rapid transfers of files and file segments into production and post-production workflows through direct connections into in-house networks under control of various types of media asset management systems (MAMs). For example, in the latest iteration of the standardized technology, LTO 6, each cartridge has 2.5 terabytes of capacity, representing over 100 hours of HD video encoded at 50 megabits per second, with file transfer rates of 160 megabytes per second and scalability to multiple petabytes of storage.

All of this storage along with disk-based storage can be managed by XenData servers to drive LTO tape libraries from a wide range of manufacturers, including HP, IBM, Oracle, Qualstar, Qantum, Specctra Logic and Tandberg Data, says XenData CEO Phil Storey. XenData’s role is to deliver a media-optimized utilization of the benefits of LTO technology over a network-attached storage (NAS) architecture with presentation of video assets in a standard file/folder structure that supports ready access to massive amounts of video for applications controlled by MAMs and editing systems, Storey explains.

“As soon as you have a low cost-per-terabyte data depository, you can then start doing things like transcoding into different formats without having to worry about it costing a fortune to store the content,” Storey says. “I can store on a just-in-case basis to give me ready access to archive material. I can store in multiple formats in my LTO archive. This approach to storage opens up new workflows.”

A typical instance where these efficiencies are being realized is with Asia broadcast media systems integrator Ideal Systems in its support for GlobeCast’s new broadcast facility in Singapore. The core technology at the facility, which is located in the Singapore media ecosystem hub known as Mediapolis, is a MAM and broadcast automation system supplied by Evertz Technologies that automates management of all media workflows and tasks.

Ideal has deployed XenData’s SX-522 archive server to manage a robotic LTO tape library that facilitates GlobeCast’s ability to target niche audiences with interesting content worldwide, explains Fintan McKiernan, CEO of Ideal Systems Singapore. Operating over a NAS architecture to support a highly scalable digital video archive, the SX-522 allows archived files to be accessed over the network Mediapolis network through seamless integration with the Evertz MAM system.

“We partnered with XenData for the rollout of the new broadcast facility at GlobeCast because it offers one of the most cost-effective, robust digital video archives on the market and a great migration alternative to some of the more expensive digital video archive vendor offerings,” McKiernan says. “[This] has allowed us to offer our customers, such as GlobeCast, greater choice and price flexibility.”

XenData has taken a major step toward making the low-cost, scalable LTO digital archive option available to a larger user base by collaborating with two other companies to create an open-standard LTO archive for users of Avid Interplay Production, a production asset management platform deployed on more than 1,400 sites worldwide. In essence, the solution brings LTO-stored files into workgroup capabilities tied to the Avid post-production ecosystem, where projects can be coordinated and moved in parallel, enabling producers, editors and others to find, edit, review and annotate vast volumes of media from anywhere.

“As a team we believe that this solution makes the Avid Interplay Production system more flexible and attractive by offering a complementary open standard archiving solution,” says Sam Bogoch, CEO of axle Video, one of the firms partnering with XenData on the solution. “We’re giving users an affordable, standards-based alternative that seamlessly connects to Interplay Production, providing great value and flexibility for users of Avid editing and production tools and other users as well.”

axle’s software is designed to greatly simplify media management applications for small and mid-sized workgroups company aiming to bring radical simplicity to media management applications for small and mid-sized workgroups. The other partner in the new solution is NL Technologies, which is providing the interface known as Interplay Web Services that connects Avid Interplay Production with the LTO archive managed by XenData SX-520 Series archive servers.

This open API allows video content stored in native Avid formats to be seamlessly moved from the Avid ISIS on-line disk-based storage to near-line LTO and back again for editing or playback. Metadata is stored for online access in the Avid Interplay Production database.

In addition, Storey notes, the solution indexes content and supports search independently of the Avid Interplay Production database. All files written to the archive are cataloged by an extended configuration of axle Video’s browser-based asset manager, which makes the entire contents of the archive searchable from any PC, Mac or iPad connected via Wi-Fi, he says.

“The API closes a gaping hole in our support, allowing us to sell our product into Interplay Production environments,” Storey says. “In making this move we saw a need for a lower cost, more open solution than competitors supply with Interplay Productions.

“The interface is free, so there’s no extra charge on the Avid side, and it extends the use of the Avid-produced content by allowing archived files that originated in Interplay Production to be searched and retrieved by users who aren’t connected to the production workgroup. In contrast, competitors’ solutions only interface with the Avid Production archive interface.”