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Turner Ties SAN to LAN

In the age of consolidated operations, the chance to bring 19 disparate Turner networks under control of one digital network-operation center has proved too compelling for Turner Broadcasting to ignore. And it has provided an opportunity to create a storage system that allows the networks to share content from a single storage area network (SAN).

"We launched networks over the years one by one and in isolation, so, if we had a Coke commercial come in that was going to run on all the networks, we had to bicycle it from one to the next," says Clyde Smith, Turner senior vice president, broadcast entertainment technology.

The new digital operations center for Turner's 19 networks addresses that dilemma.

The SAN is built around 22 TB of EMC 4700 Clarion disk arrays. The EMC disks, which hold original versions of content, are frontended by 11 Sun Fire 480R servers—each with four 900-MHz CPUs—that move content on and off the array. Dual Gigabit Ethernet network cards get the content out into the broadcast LAN.

"The Sun systems bridge the storage SAN to the broadcast LAN so files can be moved to each independent network," explains Smith. Pinnacle servers and Pro-bel automation are used in the individual network playout systems to get content out to viewers.

Redundancy is always an issue, and Smith says the EMC arrays are divided into two 11-TB mirrored systems. An Asaca DVD library also serves as a hard-copy library.

With the differing arrays, Smith says, Turner went on the hunt for a file-management system that could straddle them all and selected ADIC's StorNext file-management system. It not only supports Windows, Linux, IBM Unix and SGI Unix storage but also can support them at the same time. For Turner, that means supporting the use of lower-cost Linux or Windows platforms.

Finding a file system for simultaneous multistream file access and reading and writing of data at 1 GB/s was important, Smith says. The system also is a journaling system, so that, if anything went wrong, Turner wouldn't have to do a file-system check across 22 TB of storage.

The system is currently in test mode among Turner's nine international networks. When those nine are launched out of the new building in August, Smith says, they will be using the system as part of normal on-air operations. Once they are fully launched, the domestic networks will be transitioned over.