Model in action
To address the challenges of managing an ingest and storage architecture designed for high volumes of media shared by multiple sites and workflow processes, broadcasters are turning to SOA-based media asset management (MAM) platforms. Such platforms typically manage a three-tier storage architecture consisting of online, nearline and archive stores, which are complemented by real-time ingest and playout servers. This architecture also integrates applications that comprise an enterprise-class content management, preparation and delivery platform.
The online store, which is optimized for storing, sharing and serving media files as they enter the facility and are prepared for playout, is used as a central storage pool for content that is being edited and processed. The storage dedicated to this task should provide the performance of a SAN with the simplicity of NAS, and this performance typically is enabled by parallel access across many storage nodes and network connections. In addition to ensuring fast access speeds, the online storage system also must boast the usual reliability requirements for 24-hour operations.
Storage dedicated to nearline storage typically doesn’t have the same bandwidth performance requirements as the online store. Instead, it is typically used as a holding area for content while it is either waiting to be processed or has been processed. It is usually larger in capacity than the online store, and it provides an immediately accessible cache for content in front of any robotic, tape-based (archive) storage.
Archive storage is typically comprised of a robotic tape library designed for mass long-term storage of content. While providing better cost efficiency per gigabyte than disk-based storage, archive storage does have the penalty of having to retrieve content before being able to use it, which adds potential latency.
The platform manages all transfer requests to and from the archive, with archive management software enabling the transfer of a colossal number of files of all sizes. The most common requests tend to be: the copying of files from nearline storage, and even preserving a copy of the file on tape; retrieving files from tape and copying them to disk; and restoring files from the archive to online storage. Massive numbers of requests may be processed simultaneously.
A bigger view
Combining media and workflow management tools with applications for proxy creation and management, the system provides a federated view of content across all of the broadcaster’s storage systems. Because it also can serve as a central point of control for media processing tasks — including transcoding, QC, and file transfers — it provides a single interface through which operators can maintain an awareness of the status of all jobs.
It coordinates applications across the enterprise to optimize workflows, and it provides built-in, media-aware services for metadata, rules, searches, transfers and organization. When equipped with a work-order management feature, the platform allows users to organize, control and prioritize manual tasks, such as operator-performed QC shot logging, track stacking and language translation, and processing. Once a particular task is complete, the platform automatically routes content to the next workflow step and, if necessary, automatically moves the content between storage systems. This negates the need for the operator to do so.
At the foundation of this model, a reliable, high-availability media management system unifies control and storage with automation, ingest and quality control processes and systems across the global enterprise. The use of redundant high-availability management systems, synchronized in real time, ensures continual uptime, even as maintenance and upgrades are performed. As a result, media files within this storage system are always immediately available.