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NAB: Media archives drive storage innovation

By Tom Coughlin

Higher resolution, frame rate, pixel depth and the number of cameras for pro video projects is increasing the storage capacity requirements for professional media. The growing size of new projects, combined with the vast collection of media and entertainment content already in archives will drive the size of media archives.

In addition, the desire for ready access to this content to support reuse and other purposes increases the need for faster more active archives. The 2014 Digital Storage for Media and Entertainment Report from my own Coughlin Associates estimates that over 96% of all digital storage in the media and entertainment industry is used in archiving and preservation.

The 2015 NAB show was a showcase for many digital media archive solutions. Magnetic tape is a big player in the traditional media archive market. The most popular tape format in media and entertainment is the LTO tape. The LTO Consortium says that tape storage costs are now less than $0.008 per GB ($8/TB). The LTFS file system used in LTO and other tapes is now supported by SNIA standards. Magnetic tape is now being used in object storage environments and Swift now supports LTFS. The group says that they have seen roughly a 6% growth in magnetic tape in the media and entertainment market.

Fujifilm had a booth with Crossroads Systems where they were showing the Dternity tape-based cloud storage system with the Crossroads Strongbox product. Oracle and IBM were also showing their tape based storage systems that they are targeting for media and entertainment (IBM currently offers up to 10TB of capacity on a half-inch tape cartridge). Several companies were showing the USB interface tape drive made by IBM in their NAB booths. Several companies were showing the USB interface tape drive made by IBM in their NAB booths. mLogic was showing a Thunderbolt LTO tape drive.

ProMax acquired Cache-A in July of 2014, At the 2015 NAB show the company released a significant update to its archiving appliance lineup. The Pro-Cache and Power-Cache products have been redesigned from the ground up to improve the speed and reliability of archiving to LTO tape. The Pro-Cache’s expanded network connectivity includes 4 x 1GbE network controllers accompanied by a 10GbE network performance boost that makes it up to 2x faster than previous systems. The Power-Cache (our main photo) onboard RAID is now up to 16TB with room for an optional onboard LTO-6 or LTO-5 drive.

ProMAX Pro-Cache and Power-Cache copy

Spectra Logic announced updates and enhancements to their BlackPearl Deep Storage Gateway. The newly enhanced Spectra Logic BlackPearl Deep Storage Gateway sits in front of deep storage tape libraries and allows users to move data anywhere within their network using simple HTTP commands. An interesting feature of the BlackPearl hardware is that they use flash memory for caching write and read information to a magnetic tape library. Because of the very fast data rates for mounted tapes flash memory avoids dropping of data or needing to rerun tapes to complete data transfers. Spectra Logic also announced that they were providing an archive tier to private clouds running on the NetApp StorageGrid using the BlackPearl Deep Storage Gateway.

Sony has been driving cartridge archive system using 12 Blu-ray write-once optical media in their Optical Disc Archive (ODA). These cartridges are scheduled for a significant increase in capacity in 2015 with the planned introduction of 300GB 5.25-inch optical write-one archive discs. In addition to the Sony booth companies such as XenData and Qualstar were showing both disc and tape archive libraries in their booth. MassTech also announced support for Sony’s ODA by their asset management system. There is a significant segment of the media and entertainment market that prefers optical discs for cold archiving rather magnetic tape.

backup progress with proxies copy PRP Back Up Screen Shot

Imagine Products and Sony have created a new ODA archiving solution for Mac users. The company’s PreRoll Post LTFS archiving application (pictured above) creates thumbs, proxies and rich metadata while backing up files and folders to multiple locations at once. It also uses checksum technology to ensure that the files and folders are copied accurately. Users simply drag and drop files and folders into the queue for copying to the disc.

Software to support backup also has an important role in M&E. SGL was showing a full archive demonstration with Grass Valley. The company was also launching an Asset Migration Service (FlashNet Migration Service) to move assets between one tape platform or generation to another. They were also showing partial file restore via Avid Web Services.

For more active archives there were several HDD systems geared to active archiving on display at the NAB. HGST (a division of Western Digital) was showing their HDD-based Active Archive System. This was HGST’s first foray into large storage system design and it was leveraging its internal drive costs to offer a cost effective object based storage system cheaper than many white-box solutions. HGST’s Active Archive System is an object storage system that delivers 4.7 petabytes (PB) of raw data storage in a single rack. The company says this product will provide long term retention of media data with fast access when needed.

Dr. Tom Coughlin, president of Coughlin Associates, is a storage analyst and consultant with over 30 years in the data storage industry. He has six patents to his credit and is the author of Digital Storage in Consumer Electronics: The Essential Guide. He also helps put together the Storage Visions Conference. You can we reach him at tom@tomcoughlin.com.

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