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Storage: Now That You Have It, Where Do You Keep It?


Let’s face it – insufficient storage causes major performance issues and failures.  We’ve all been there.  And we’ll all be there again there is no doubt.  As the assets continue to be created, so is the eternal question: “Now that we have it, where do we keep it?”

digital Storage

Unlike actual physical possessions, digital assets need specialized equipment for storage.  Today, aside from in-house storage ability, the Cloud offers the unique capability to store assets off-site but still have them readily available and accessible.  We’ll talk about Cloud Storage a little later.  For now, know that there are many companies that provide “in-facility” storage solutions.

Facilis is the manufacturer of the Terrablock. TerraBlock is the dedicated Post Production and Digital Intermediate shared storage system that outperforms the competition, and undercuts traditional high-performance SAN pricing.  With the Facilis Shared File System, TerraBlock shared storage delivers high performance volume-level sharing over fibre channel and total collaborative multi-user write access over fibre channel.  Facilis Technology is represented by a growing number of resellers across the country and around the world. They work very hard to match production facilities up with the proper value-added reseller. www.facilis.com.

When contemplating storage needs, you have to keep the size of the assets in mind.  Digitally-produced graphics files can be quite large which, therefore, demand large storage capacity.  And while I hate to drone-on about different storage measurements, I feel obliged to run-down a few.  Going beyond the KiloByte (which is 1024 bytes), the MegaByte (1048 KB), and the GigaByte (1074 MB), we have the TeraByte (1024 GB), and the PetaByte (1024 TB).  For the sake of argument, next is the ExaByte (1024 PB), the ZettaByte (1024 EB) and the YottaByte (1024 ZB).

amstar_video

Let’s put all that into perspective Kent Brook’s website has some very interesting statistics about size such as: an exabyte alone has the capacity to hold over 36,000 years’ worth of HD quality video or stream the entire Netflix catalog more than 3,000 times. A zettabyte is equivalent to about 250 billion DVDs; released in 2009, the 3D animated film Monsters vs. Aliens used 100 TB of storage during development; and one terabyte of audio recorded at CD quality will contain around 2,000 hours of audio. Additionally, one terabyte of compressed audio recorded at 128 kB/s will contain about 17,000 hours of audio.  See more at: kentbrooks.ning.com/profiles/blogs/are-you-ready-for-the-zettabyte-life-logging-digital-darkness#sthash.Ops9pjZ1.dpuf.

If you were to look at the combined space of all computer hard drives in the world, in 2006 they were estimated to be 160 exabytes. ^ John F. Gantz (March 2007). “An IDC White Paper: The Expanding Digital Universe” (PDF). EMC.   As of 2009, it was speculated that the entire World Wide Web contained close to 500 exabytes. This is one half zettabyte. ^ Richard Wray (2009-05-18). “Internet data heads for 500bn gigabytes”. The Guardian.

The website www.conversation.com has this to say about digital storage: “In Nature Communications today, we, along with Richard Evans from CSIRO, show how we developed a new technique to enable the data capacity of a single DVD to increase from 4.7 gigabytes up to one petabyte (1,000 terabytes). This is equivalent of 10.6 years of compressed high-definition video or 50,000 full high-definition movies.” See more at: theconversation.com/more-data-storage-heres-how-to-fit-1-000-terabytes-on-a-dvd-15306.

Storage Banks

Companies such as www.justcloud.com/business (number one in many surveys) feature Business Cloud Storage starting at $19.95/month for 100GB of Cloud Storage (with many options for larger access anywhere/anytime storage).  But beware!  In a recent article, Science Daily points-out that many who seek the Cloud for storage do so at an increased risk of hacking and data insecurity, due to lax safety precautions, because of a fear of a lack of accessibility (www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2013/11/131106152228.htm).  As with anything Internet-related, vigilance and preparedness is vital to keeping a secure network. Aside from all that…..if you’re in a post house, you want LOCAL storage.

There are several types of storage; the major ones used in the studio industry are three varieties: Online Storage, which is for frequent and very rapid access to data, offline storage, which is storage/archiving media used for backups or long-term storage, with infrequent access to data; and near-line storage, which is an intermediate type of data storage that is a “middle” or buffer between online storage and offline storage.

Online storage needs speed for an efficient workflow.  As a result of that need, online storage is usually handled with Fibre Channel or Ethernet or a combination of both.  4-Gbps, 8-Gbps, and 10-Gigabit applications are typical, 16 and 40 gigabit-per-second data delivery coming soon, according to the Fibre Channel Industry Association (FCIA).  According to the FCIA, Fibre Channel speeds from 1GFC (Gigabits per second Fibre Channel), 2GFC, 4GFC all the way out to 512GFC in factors of 2 GFC for edge connectivity is possible, with each doubling of speed taking about 3-years to complete; the 32GFC standard is expected to be stable very soon!  Also on the drawing board is the FC and FCoE ISL™s (Inter-Switch Links) out to 1TFC (1 Terabit/s Fibre Channel) and 1TFCoE (1Terabit/s Fibre Channel over Ethernet). You can read more about Fibre Channel at: www.fibrechannel.org.

Gartner Data Center Conference December 9 – 12 in Las Vegas, the Fibre Channel Industry Association (FCIA) announced the INCITS T11 standards committee has recently completed the Fibre Channel Physical Interface – sixth generation (FC-PI-6) industry standard for specifying 32 Gigabit per second (Gbps) Fibre Channel and forwarded it to the American National Standards Institute (ANSI) for publication in the first quarter of 2014. The 2013 completion marked a successful milestone on FCIA’s Speed Roadmap for 32 Gbps Fibre Channel, and signals continued innovation for data centers requiring a fast, scalable and reliable storage network, based on the proven tried and true Fibre Channel storage network technology.

Continue reading Fibre Channel Industry Association Advances 32 Gigabit per Second Fibre Roadmap with Completion of Standards Milestone .

Strangely enough, Dr. Zoltan Meggyesi at CERN doesn’t believe that Fibre Channel is a “channel” at all, stating that “it’s architecture doesn’t represent neither a channel nor a real network topology. It allows for an active intelligent interconnection scheme, called a Fabric, to connect devices. All a Fibre channel port has to do is to manage a simple point-to-point connection between itself and the Fabric.”

He goes on to explain that:

There are two basic types of data communication between processors and between processors and peripherals: channels and networks. A channel provides a direct or switched point-to-point connection between the communicating devices. A channel is typically hardware-intensive and transports data at the high speed with low overhead. In contrast, a Network is an aggregation of distributed nodes (like workstations, file servers or peripherals) with its own protocol that supports interaction among these nodes. A network has relatively high overhead since it is software-intensive, and consequently slower than a channel. Networks can handle a more extensive range of tasks than channels as they operate in an environment of unanticipated connections, while channels operate amongst only a few devices with predefined addresses. Fibre Channel attempts to combine the best of these two methods of communication into a new I/O interface that meets the needs of channel users and also network users.

Read more at: hsi.web.cern.ch/HSI/fcs/spec/overview.htm.

Rohde & Schwarz DVS GmbH is a German company that provides a complete storage solution for broadcast and post-production.  They offer three-tiered solutions covering all three areas of storage online, near-line and offline.  Their equipment allows you to work in real-time over a combination of Fibre Channel and Ethernet with several uncompressed 4K streams in 10/12/16 bit parallel RGB 4:4:4 in levels scalable from 600 MB/s to more than 10 GB/s, and systems with compressed or uncompressed material in HD, 2K, 4K, and even 8K!

The universal truth is forever looming once you have it, you have to store it.  The many options that have to be taken into consideration may seem like a daunting task, but I assure you it is well worth it!  Having digital assets that you know will be there and be accessible for years to come is beyond price.  Take your time and explore the many options out there and while you’re at it, remember to stay blogged-in!

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Ryan Salazar

Editor-In-Chief, Publisher at Broadcast Beat Magazine, LLC.
Ryan started working in the broadcast and post production industry at the young age of twelve! He has produced television programs, built large post production facilities, written for some of the industry's leading publications and was an audio engineer for about ten years. Ryan previously wrote for Broadcast Engineering Magazine, Creative COW and his projects have been featured in dozens of publications.
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