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IBC 2015: Adventures in archiving

By Tom Coughlin

Once you have your content and have completed that award-winning new project, Oscar-nominated film or brilliant and effective commercial, where does your data go? Today, video content can be reused and repurposed a number of times, producing a continuing revenue stream by providing viewing for many generations of people. That makes video archives valuable and also requires changes from in-active to more active archives. This article looks at some of the archiving products on display at the 2015 IBC.

The figure to the right shows our estimate of revenue spent on various media and entertainment storage markets in 2014 (from the Digital Storage in Media and Entertainment Report from Coughlin Associates). Note that although almost 96 percent of all M&E storage capacity is used for archiving about 45 percent of the spending is for archiving.

Quantum showcased its StorNext 5 shared storage architecture, which includes high-performance online storage, extended online storage and tape- and cloud-based archives. The company also highlighted the StorNext Connect, a management and monitoring console that provides an at-a-glance dashboard of the entire StorNext environment. At IBC, Quantum introduced their Q-Cloud Archive that extends StorNext workflow capabilities to the cloud, allowing end-to-end StorNext environments to leverage cloud storage fully with no additional hardware, separate applications or programming while maintaining full compatibility with existing software applications.

The Quantum Storage Manager migrates data from online storage to its object-based Lattus, allowing secure, long-term storage with greater durability than RAID and extremely high scalability. Content can be migrated from Lattus to tape archives or Q-Cloud archives automatically. In addition Quantum’s Artico intelligent NAS archive appliance was on display, offering low cost scale-out storage for active media archives that can scale to PBs of content across HDDs, extended online storage, tape and cloud storage.

Also during IBC, the LTO Program Technology Provider Companies — HP, IBM and Quantum —announced the LTO-7 tape format that will be available in late 2015. The native capacity of this drive is 6TB, while 2.5:1 compression provides 15TB of storage with up to 750MB/s data rates. This product will provide over twice the capacity of the LTO-6 drive generation. The LTO roadmap goes out to a generation 10 product with up to 120TB of compressed content and about 48TB native capacity.

LTO proponents said that tape has some advantages over hard disk drives for archiving, despite the difference in latency to access content. In particular, they said tape has and error rate two orders of magnitude lower than HDDs, providing more accurate recording and reading of content. Among the interesting LTO developments at IBC were the M-Logic Thunderbolt interface tape drives.

Tape can also be combined with capacity SATA HDDs to provide storage systems with performance approaching hard disk drive arrays and costs approaching magnetic tape libraries. Crossroads has teamed up with Fujifilm to provide NAS systems combining HDDs and tape and including cloud storage combining tape and HDDs. In fact archiving is becoming one of the biggest growing applications in the media and entertainment industry, according to the 2015 Digital Storage in Media and Entertainment Report from Coughlin Associates.

Oracle was also showing its tape storage systems with 8TB native storage capacity in a half-inch tape form factor. Oracle now includes Front Porch Digital with its cloud archiving platform as well as digital ingest solutions for older analog and digital format media.

Some companies also use flash memory as a content cache in order to match the high speeds of data transfers to and from a tape library system. Companies such as Xendata provide LTO tape and optical disc libraries for media and entertainment customers. Spectra Logic has made a big push into HDD-based archiving, using shingled magnetic recording (SMR) 3.5-inch HDDs in their DPE storage system to provide unstructured storage costs as low as 9 cents/GB. This system can provide up to 7.4PB of raw capacity in a single rack with 1GB/s data rates. This sort of system is best for data that is seldom or never overwritten because of the use of SMR HDDS.

Sony was showing its 300GB Blu-ray optical WORM discs, although it was not clear if the product is being shipped in storage cartridges in 2015. Archiving is a significant driver of M&E storage demand. This is because all video eventually ends up in an archive. Because of more frequent access of archived content, the performance requirements of many archives are more demanding than in the past. This has led to the use of HDD-based archives and archives combining HDDs and magnetic tape. Even flash memory can play a role as a write and read cache in a tape based system.

Dr. Tom Coughlin, president of Coughlin Associates, has over 35 years in the data storage industry. Coughlin is also the founder and organizer of the annual Storage Visions Conference, a partner to the International Consumer Electronics Show, as well as the Creative Storage Conference


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