Storage Players 'Nab' Broadcasters

Upcoming digital broadcasting confab highlights increased storage role

April 13, 2007

4 Min Read
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While enterprise storage pros converge at SNW in San Diego next week, a substantial group of their peers in the broadcasting and entertainment market will head to Las Vegas. There, most big storage players will also pitch their wares at the annual convention of the National Association of Broadcasters, showcasing the importance of this vertical to storage networking.

For some, NAB is a more important storage show than SNW. "We focus most of our storage sales on this vertical," says Lisa Pistacchio, a spokesperson for SGI. At next week's show, SGI plans to reveal new broadcast customers clair Laboratoires and Premier Media Group.

The move to digital is creating unprecedented storage demand in the multibillion-dollar entertainment and broadcasting space. "This market is undergoing the most fundamental transformation since the introduction of TV," says Jay Wampold, senior director of marketing at Isilon.

"It's been a real evolution, going from tape to digital, and from two channels to four and now to six channels, 24 hours a day, seven days a week," said Michael Day, chief engineer at SGI customer Premier Media Group, Australia. His group recently installed a 33-Tbyte SAN to accommodate needed growth.

Another customer, who purchased an ATTO solution, describes a similar digital migration. "High Definition uncompressed non-linear editing requires large amounts of storage. Each second takes about 160 Mbytes at 10-bit uncompressed. That expands to about 10 GBytes per minutes and 600 Gbytes per hour," says jeff Dockendorff, associate director of engineering with Channel Thirteen/WNET of New York in a prepared statement.Added to this kind of exponential data growth is the need for most studios and production firms to streamline their workflow. This means offering access to SAN, NAS, and LAN resources all at once -- to various groups.

Case in point: Éclair Laboratoires, a digital film matering facility in France, which is one of the customers SGI will unveil at NAB. "We wanted to work on the same film at the same time as the special effects and the digital color calibration, without saturating the network," said Philippe Mouton, IT director, Digital Department, in a draft statement.

One expert, Mike Chapman, senior editor at Massachusetts video production services company DigiNovations, thinks matching workflow to storage is key to a solid broadcasting solution. "[Users] should look for a system that will enhance and augment their existing workflow, that will be easy and intuitive to maintain, and that will provide absolute integrity to their data," he writes in an email today.

Broacast firms, in short, have special requirements. Some match those of enterprises in other industries, but there are things that stand out. Here are some of the chief characteristics distinguishing this segment:

  • High-growth data stores. Broadcast and entertainment firms grow data at astonishing rates, which are exacerbated when they try to add channels, shows, and new online items -- their stock in trade. (See Storage Grabs Video Limelight.)

  • Large files. Broadcasters work with lots of large files containing digital image information. This draws them to clustering, file virtualization, and other methods of expanding the workable size and range of file data. This is also why clustered NAS is in high demand among entertainment producers.

  • Workflow spanning SAN and LAN. As SGI customer Éclair indicates, most broadcast companies want multiple clients to work simultaneously on data that may be on a SAN or on various network servers. This generates demand for systems that feature SAN as well as LAN interfaces.

Experts say that besides these special requirements, broadcast companies are also more likely to have grown numerous silos of storage in an effort to cope with data growth, only to face a huge manageability problem.The popularity of the broadcast niche has many storage firms divided between Las Vegas and San Diego next week. Here are some examples of news around this vertical event:

  • Montreal-based startup Tiger Technology, whose MetaSAN software is sold primarily to broadcasting clients, is showing its clustering software, which implements quality-of-service in SANs and NAS, with systems from DataDirect Networks and Qlogic.

  • ATTO will show its FastStream SC 5700 storage controller appliance with Apple's Xserve RAID, a frequently used product in digital media circles. ATTO also is showing direct-attached storage options an iSCSI initiator working with an HP array.

  • Front Porch Digital will show a content management and storage system designed for news operations, called DIVAnews.

  • Integrator Harris will talk about development of an in-band mobile video delivery system and partnerships in IPTV.

— Mary Jander, Site Editor, Byte and Switch

  • ATTO Technology Inc.

  • DataDirect Networks Inc.

  • Front Porch Digital Inc.

  • Harris Corp. (NYSE: HRS)

  • Hewlett-Packard Co. (NYSE: HPQ)

  • QLogic Corp. (Nasdaq: QLGC)

  • Sun Microsystems Inc.

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