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Archiving solutions at NAB: saving more for later

By Tom Coughlin

With all the 4K content being created for new media workflows and more demonstrations of higher frame rate, image depth, multiple camera projects and even higher future resolutions all that rich content has to live somewhere. The 2014 NAB gave some indications of the future of media archiving. This article will look at developments at several companies providing products for the media archiving industry.

Active Archive Alliance’s chair Floyd Christofferson, director of storage product marketing at SGI, gave me a briefing on their recent activities and the current state of active archiving. I also attended a session at the NAB focused on active archiving. Floyd said that 80-85% of all data, including media content, has not been touched in six months. This older content should be kept in an active archive tier (with higher latency), freeing the front-end storage directly access by the user to more active content.

Companies such as SGI and Quantum move data between different types of storage by policy to create a hierarchical storage system. Fujifilm has a cloud tape archive that allows file access via LTFS and Crossroad’s Strongbox tape archive system. This system accommodates physical tape transport to the cloud for large ingest jobs. Active archiving is also including the latest object-based storage systems.

The LTO Program is overseen by HP, IBM and Quantum. The program promotes the use of the Linear Tape Open half-inch tape cartridge spec. Products using LTO are sold by many manufacturers and provide an important role in the media and entertainment industry for archiving content. The latest LTO 6 tapes provide 2.5TB native storage capacity and include the LTFS file system allowing faster access to data on the tape. Other companies providing tape storage and exhibiting at the 2014 NAB include Qualstar, HP and Overland storage.

Oracle T1000D Tape Drivesmall

Oracle T1000D Tape Drive

Oracle StorageTek has the highest native storage capacity storage media today at 8.5TB of capacity in a T10000D half-inch tape cartridge. This is larger than the LTO 6 at 2.5TB native and even the largest HDD capacity at 6TB. An exhibit at Oracle gave a dramatic demonstration of the difference in the amount of storage that can be stored on the T10000D and LTO 6. Oracle was demonstrating their storage and archive solutions as well as the company’s database and server technology to provide media intelligence, audience engagement and commerce solutions.

Steve Canepa of IBM said that the company had spent $1.2 billion on 40 data centers around the world to provide online storage, including object-based LTFS tape storage. IBM has a special Storlet Engine that runs inside of an object storage system to manipulate metadata and provide for functions such as transcoding. This tool also allows running analytics within storage. The Storlet could provide some interesting new capabilities for media and entertainment applications using the cloud. The IBM Video Grid provides fast scalable video cloud storage that can provide services such as a network DDR. Aspera, now part of IBM, had a very public exhibit on their accelerated Internet delivery.

Quantum is a member of the LTO Program and also a major supplier of archive and storage for the media and entertainment industry. Quantum’s StorNext asset management software is widely used to manage storage media assets. Quantum’s new StorNext 5 solutions provide native LTFS support for modern linear tape formats providing easy movement of content onto LTFS tape, such as LTO 6. Combined with the company’s Xsan compatible StorNext Pro disk storage solutions, including support of private and public clouds, Quantum provides full 4K media workflow storage solutions.

Spectra Logic, which provides one of the largest tape libraries in the world, introduced their Black Pearl archive appliance and support for an open-object-based LTO tape format last year. The company is supporting IBMs TS tapes in addition to the LTO tape format. IBM TS tapes have 4TB native capacity now but may increase to 11TB or greater in the near future. In addition to their tape-based systems they also showed a scalable SAS disk-based storage system for replication and snapshots. The company plans new extensions to the Black Pearl later in 2014.

Storage DNA introduced its DNA Evolution 3.5 with built-in media asset management. This workflow solution provides effective, accessible, searchable and secure archiving built on LTO tape technology. According to the company’s press release DNA Evolution systems are nearline storage repositories so users can browse proxies, directly access files from LTO tape for operations like partial restores, have built-in media asset management functionality and provide fast archive access.

Sony and Panasonic recently announced a roadmap for advanced write-once Blu-ray optical storage with 300GB by 2015 and up to 1TB of storage per disc in the future. They were showcasing their optical storage systems at their booth. The advantage of optical storage is the low cost of the media vs. magnetic tape. Thus even though today’s magnetic tape may provide more capacity per cartridge than a 12-disc optical cartridge, the cost of the cartridge and the resulting cost per GB may be less with optical storage. Archive Science and a few other companies were showing optical storage systems.

Front Porch Digital Displaysmall

Front Porch Digital

Front Porch Digital announced enhanced integration between its DIVArchive CSM system and the Avid ISIS shared storage system. DIVArchive connects directly to ISIS storage via 1/10Gb Ethernet. Front Porch Digital integration with Avid Interplay allows tighter integration of their archiving solutions with users of Avid editing and storage systems. Front Porch also announced its DISTILL solution for easily and effectively managing metadata, allowing direct access to critical production notes and commentary.

Cache-A introduced Workflow Templates and Incremental Archiving to automate regular background LTO archiving tasks and provide asset protection insurance. Incremental Archives using these templates saves new or changed files since the last archive. These features use the capabilities of LTFS LTO tapes. The company was also showing accelerated archiving using LTO 6 tapes and its Simul-Copy method for making multiple sequential copies of tapes at close to the speed of a single copy.

Cache-A - LTO Archive Product Family1

Cache-A – LTO Archive Product Family

XenData said that the company is working closely with storage systems companies such as Oracle and Qualstar to support their storage libraries. The company is supporting both tape and optical archives, including its SSD write cache products using high endurance PCIe SSDs from Intel. The company also announced a cloud storage for disaster recovery (DR) that involves sending content on tape to a host site in Nevada and allowing low cost online storage as low a 50TB for $995/mo. that will be available in June.

Digital Vision was showing the Golden Eye 4 film scanner for restoration and archive, while its Bifrost Archive Bridge provided streamlined archive workflow tools for preservation of film assets. Blackmagic also introduced their small-sized (you can hang it on a wall) Cintel Film Scanner.

Scale Logic

Scale Logic

Scale Logic, formed by former executives from Rorke, introduced its HyperFS file system supporting file and block access on up to 64-file nodes, 800 block clients and 16 separate file systems on up to 144PB of storage as well as its HSM tiered storage Genesis IAP Archive Server and Strawberry Project Management.

Imation was showing its Nexsan storage arrays as well as RDX HDD cartridges that it is selling for archive applications. MLogic demonstrated its mTape Thunderbolt LTO-6 backup/archive at the 2014 NAB Show. This product is compatible with software from Archiware, Imagine Products, StorageDNA and XenData.

The number of exhibitors showing products and services to support archiving shows the importance of keeping ever richer content for long periods. Digital archiving is a critical part of a modern media workflow and as the 2014 NAB Show demonstrated, there are a lot of companies providing a great many choices for keeping your content safe for the future.

Tom Coughlin, founder of Coughlin Associates,  is a storage analyst and consultant with over 30 years in the data storage industry. Coughlin Associates provides market and technology analysis as well as data storage technical consulting services. In addition to publishing  the Digital Storage Technology Newsletter and the Media and Entertainment Storage Report, Coughlin is founder and organizer of the annual Storage Visions Conference, a partner to the International CES, as well as the Creative Storage Conference.


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