Managing assets gains importance

With the growing emphasis on asset management as an extremely important ingredient in the overall digital recipe, broadcasters will discover lots of new storage concepts and solutions at NAB.

For example, at NAB, Ampex Data Systems Corp. will roll out its DST 914 quad-density automated data-archive system. The DST 914 library holds 26 TB, or 4,700 hours, of 12 Mbps video in less than 8 square feet. Ampex quad-density DST data cartridges offer uncompressed capacities of 100 GB, 300 GB and 660 GB.

The Ampex booth will also underscore the company's successful integration efforts with leading video server- and asset-management providers in order to deliver total archive solutions for master-control playout, news and program library management.

"Today's playout environment calls for a high-performance tape drive due to the constant movement of tapes in and out of the archive," says John Hennessy, director of video and broadcast marketing at Ampex. "Tape-based storage is not going away. Because DST tape is removable, it constitutes a kind of safe haven."

Besides data-transfer rates at 20 MB/s, roughly 160 Mbps or greater than 13 times faster than real-time for 12 Mbps video, rapid access to programming is achieved on average in the 20-second to 60-second range, depending on the size of the library system.

"Broadcasters need to keep in mind how long it will take to digitize their libraries and that it will not be a one-to-one relation," says Hennessy. "A huge archive with 100,000 hours of content will probably take 400,000 hours or more."

He identifies news as the next frontier for Ampex. The treatment of news programming as data files will introduce new operational efficiencies, as well as cost savings, given the size of today's expanding news archives at U.S. television stations.

With respect to interoperability and encoding, questions remain unanswered. For example, will one server which is used to archive content encode and decode the same way as the nonlinear editing system (NLE) or playout server?

"When you make the transition to computer-based news editing, why not just keep the news in the NLE-encoded rate, rather than transferring it to videotape? With a DST archive, you will shrink rooms full of tape into an automated archive with the ability to move content over fibre throughout the facility at multiples of real-time to support other editing applications or playout," says Hennessy.

Asaca/Shibasoku Corp. and Vela's Broadcast/System Products Division are teaming up at NAB to introduce the first combination MPEG-2 video server/DVD-RAM Library System known as the RapidAccess MediaMachine.

"MediaMachine is using DVD-RAM as a secondary storage mechanism. We record high bit-rate material direct to a hard drive, then automatically move it onto a DVD within the same jukebox," says William G. Robinson, president of Vela's Broadcast/System Products Division. "During playout, we simply reverse the process."

Customers can select a RapidAccess MediaMachine in either the Asaca AM-750 or AM-1400 chassis. Both use two-sided DVD-RAM platters, which hold a total of 9.4 GB.

"DVD-RAM is excellent for near-online material. Our database software looks over storage, which is several layers down, from the RAID-striped top layer down to the DVD jukebox,"says Robinson. "On a cost-per-Megabyte basis, DVD is remarkably inexpensive when compared to tape-especially when you figure in the cost of a tape drive. And unlike tape, you can read DVD-RAM disks 100,000 times without inducing any wear."

While Vela has installed RapidAccess with external DVD-RAM jukeboxes from Asaca and JVC, the MediaMachine is the first implementation to combine the server with both primary and secondary storage in the same chassis.

"We're creating a plug-and-play archive server with between 1,900 and 30,000 hours of storage capacity. MPEG video stored on RAID disk subsystems only takes you so far. DVD-RAM gives you quick access to over 100 TB at a price far lower than a RAID disk solution, although it is a bit more expensive than a tape-archive library," says Kirk Wilson, Asaca's technical manager.

Vela will also demonstrate a RapidAccess video server with DVB-ASI record and playout for store-and-forward and time-delay applications. This device can take standard MPEG-2 files and create fully compliant multi-program transport streams (MPTS) for broadcasting up to four programs using a single DVB-ASI output.

The storage area network (SAN) is where Minneapolis-based Ciprico Inc. excels. Ciprico's lineup at NAB includes the 7,000 disk arrays now with 181GB disks, the NETarray 1000 and FibreSTORE RAID (in desktop and rack configurations), which extends up to 3.8 TBs on the FibreSTORE RAID with seven disk enclosures and 7.3 TBs on the NETarray with 10 disk enclosures. SAN software and hardware components provide high performance in heterogeneous workflow environments.

Ciprico will demonstrate a SANergy shared file system SAN, Matrox DigiSuite video-capture card and Incite editing software for Philips Editstream systems. It will also demonstrate support for two video and four audio channels using DVCPRO at 6 MB/s per journalist workstation. With a Leitch VR400 video server, content will be streamed off the NETarray 1000 to illustrate Ciprico's high-bandwidth play-to-air capability. The Leitch booth will have 15 NETarray's at NAB.

"SAN-based asset management is built around databases from companies like Oracle and Ascential (Informix). You have to be able to integrate with everyone in the SAN environment and provide seamless access to the content," says Dennis Pederson, Ciprico's entertainment and media market manager.

A typical Ciprico customer might use SAN software, such as ADIC's Centravision SAN software, NT servers and workstations, and a variety of UNIX-based platforms. Ciprico's media-asset-management partners include eMotion, Virage and Convera, along with broadcast integrators such as Azcar.

Ciprico recently acquired staff and SANstar technology from Tinton Falls, New Jersey-based ECCS to enhance its overall development effort of a new storage-related architecture.

"This will allow for the construction of larger, faster, more easily manageable storage subsystems than current technologies," says Tom Ruwart, Ciprico's chief technology officer, adding that this architecture will be based on several key emerging technologies such as InfiniBand, Virtual Interface Architecture (VIA) and Object-based Storage Devices (OSD), to name a few.

EMC Corp. will demonstrate its intelligent data-management solutions at NAB, which include the latest versions of Avalon Consulting Group's Avalon Archive Manager (AAM). Avalon was acquired by EMC last year.

Besides centralcasting or hub and spoke network configurations, EMC is focusing on providing the broadcast sector with a migration path from tape to disk, which is implemented as a background task and completely transparent to broadcasters.

"This data-management piece along with the ability to seamlessly integrate tape-storage elements and disk caches together allows the consolidated model to work well, to scale and to cascade content efficiently," says Wayne Dusso, EMC's director of global engineering.

"We have the ability to manage any rich media on any subsystem with Intelligent Data Management, and we do so by using a flexible and intelligent set of policies guided by the automation system," adds Dusso. (IDM comprises a full suite of services.) "IDM supports the same open API set as AAM."

"Archiving to tape is important, but, as disk drives get larger, drives well over a 100 GB are out now, and the trade-offs between tape and disc are getting very interesting," Dusso adds.

IBM Global Media & Entertainment Industry's strategy is to position itself as a portfolio company with unmatched expertise in asset management, storage and integration capability, as well as in digital-rights management and secure digital-content distribution.

At NAB, IBM expects broadcasters to be searching for ways to make their infrastructure more efficient as well as ways to position itself for new business models and new revenue streams.

"IBM is focused on storage-area networks [SANs]. We are attempting to convince broadcasters that having redundant copies all over the enterprise is not a good idea," says Steve Canepa, IBM Global Media & Entertainment Industry's vice president of marketing. "How you construct your storage infrastructure around your content is very important. With IBM's SAN architecture, you can work off one central version and reduce your storage requirements at the same time."

The work under way at CNN is bound to be a hot topic of discussion. IBM and Sony have created the Media Production Suite (MPS), which integrates all of CNN's workflow elements riding atop Virage's Video Application Platform. MPS includes IBM Content Manager software and Sony's PetaSite digital library using Sony DTF-2 tape.

"The only effective way for broadcasters to position themselves for multi-network distribution involves moving from a backend or archival notion of storage to one where the data repository sits at the heart of the broadcaster's production operation," says Canepa.

IBM's vast asset-management-related product line will be on display at NAB including IBM's open industry-standard-based Linear Tape-Open (LTO tape products), which hold up to 200 GB of compressed data per cartridge with data transfer rates of up to 30 MB/second. Other products include Websphere, the DB2 Universal Database and MQSeries workflow software.

"For the bigger players, allocating fixed costs over more distribution opportunities is much more feasible. It allows them to reach an economy of scale that smaller market providers will have trouble reaching," adds Canepa. "At the same time, we are working in a very determined way to package our solutions to work with smaller stations."

Leitch's triple-drive-based VR DVD-RAM library and archive management, the 250-3, 750-3 and 1450-3, will be demonstrated at NAB. This fully integrated solution extends the VR online storage into near-online and off-line storage.

"This is ideal for large and small broadcasters alike for short-form material. It provides a very reliable storage medium," says Richard Talbot, product manager, Leitch storage and networking solutions. "It is also viewed as a more permanent solution than tape-based storage, but it does not displace tape in terms of long-form storage."

A wide range of transmission, production, media-management and archiving applications will be demonstrated and run simultaneously on Omneon Video Networks' Networked Content Server System.

Omneon is introducing both its Extended File System (EFS) and Omneon Switch at NAB. In addition to providing scalability over the Omneon Video Area Network (VAN), the Switch-equipped Networked Content Server with EFS enables broadcasters to cross-connect multiple Omneon Directors within the same file system, thereby increasing shared storage on a linear basis and eliminating the need to copy content between storage elements.

The Omneon VAN is SAN configured as Network Attached Storage (NAS). Combining both provides the scalability of a SAN with the compatibility of NAS.

"Material stored in our shared storage appears to the application as Quicktime files on a network drive. We do not depend upon expensive I/O cards or proprietary drivers," says Omneon CEO Larry Kaplan. "Fibre Channel SAN's address file exchange within a specific application, but they do not extend to multiple applications from different suppliers that require shared storage of both real-time and non-real-time data. Omneon has opted to use IEEE1394 and Ethernet for the networking portion of its system, rather than Fibre Channel, for this reason."

At Sky News in the UK, for example, an Omneon system will be used for real-time play to air content obtained from Avid Unity.

While many visitors to the Panasonic Broadcast and TV Systems Company booth at NAB may be looking for such things as the newest version of DNA, which is DVCPRO50, Panasonic will also be showing its first Proline DVD recorder.

Last year, Panasonic demonstrated its MediaArk robotic archive system, which can store approximately 300,000 hours of broadcast-quality video and audio. The MediaArk is now also available with DVD-RAM robotics, with capacity for up to 10,000 DVD-RAM disks.

The first Panasonic DVD-RAM system using ADIC's asset-management subsystem is now being installed at a major Japanese broadcaster. This browser archive system consists of 4,400 discs and 60 DVD-RAM drives with each disk storing 4.7 GB per side and offering up to six hours of storage using a variable bit rate.

"The basic problem with DVD-RAM from a technology standpoint is the limitation on real-time bit rate for recording and retrieval of content. It needs to run at roughly 30 Mbps for DV field acquisition. At around 11 Mbps today and with 22 Mbps later this year, DVD-RAM comes up well short for formats such as DV, DVCAM and DVCPRO25," says Tore Nordahl, Panasonic's vice president for product management. "As the TV stations transition to DTV, they require bit rates even higher that 30 Mbps. And so, the broadcast market may never have the opportunity to use DVD or any other optical disk in an ENG camcorder."

Thomas J. Yuhas, general manager of Sony's Data Systems and Transmission Division, says that Sony is paying close attention to several issues with which stations are grappling at this time, including storage costs and "real estate."

"Stations are becoming increasingly aware of the need to balance server and tape environments. With our PetaSite robotic tape infrastructure and PetaServe software, we keep down the size of the server farm, while providing a reliable and scalable storage solution," says Yuhas. "Being responsive to the policies set by the station's operations team is critical. Where our PetaServe software excels is in the area of loading and offloading content, or what is known as file-load balancing, of the PetaSite."

Sony will be highlighting the expandability of the many PetaSite models including the B150L in the PetaSite 150 series which is a mid-range solution that goes from 25.2 TB (native) to 128 TB (native) later this year. The modular DMS-8400 libraries for high-end users holds 11.2 PB (native) of material.

"Today, DTF-2 at 200 GB per tape is able to store 1 GB for $1 at 2 TB per square foot. When we migrate to DTF-3 tape in 2003, we will effectively double this formula and go to 48 MB/s with 400 GB per tape," says Yuhas.

With Sony's acquisition of a 28% stake in Toronto-based Bulldog, the asset-management agenda at Sony broadens considerably.

"Bulldog's workflow maps pretty well with broadcasters," says Stephen Jacobs, Sony's senior vice president of network and systems businesses. "Its value revolves around multiple levels of review, and easy annotation as content moves through the entire production process."