Archiving Solutions at the 2017 NAB Show

At the 2017 NAB show, companies offering digital archiving solutions were prominent in the exhibits and conference program.  In the past, professional media and entertainment content was archived on film or analog videotapes. Today the options available for archive media to store digital content depend upon the preferences and existing infrastructure of digital archive facilities.

According to the 2016 Media and Entertainment Professions survey on digital storage conducted by Coughlin Associates Magnetic tape is the predominant archive media, followed by HDDs and network storage (likely to also be HDDs) as shown below.  Also survey participants indicated that they were doing some archiving in the cloud.  In our survey 38.1% said they would use a private or public cloud for archiving in 2016 although only 2% currently stored their archives in a private or public cloud[1].  No doubt AWS, Google and Microsoft will work to increase the role of the cloud in archive storage.

Note that the 2017 professional media and entertainment survey is still taking participants.  Media and Entertainment professions can participate using this link:

Let’s look at some of the particular digital archiving storage solutions on display at the 2017 NAB show.


XenData released its FX-Series systems that combine shared disk storage and archive on a single server.   The all-in-one server helps to dramatically simplify collaborative media production workflows, while offering two independent storage volumes: a high performance shared disk volume, suitable for 4K workflows, and an archive volume capable of supporting an attached LTO library, an attached Optical Disc Archive library or Microsoft Azure cloud storage.  By presenting two complementary high-capacity volumes, the FX server can simplify workflows as it avoids storage boundaries that would traditionally be present with multiple shared disk or archive storage volumes.

Quantum’s StorNext 6 combines high performance and advanced data management with its widely used file system and data management platform.  These enhanced data management features include FlexSync (continuous content synchronization), FlexSpace (multi-geo shared archive) and FlexTier (automated public and private cloud access).  The update also enables client based quality of services including bandwidth throttling, bandwidth reservation.  It will also be available for SAN and DLC clients and have web service API support.

XenData’s Cloud File Gateway manages a single highly scalable file system across two storage tiers: on-premises RAID and Microsoft Azure blob storage. The storage system allows existing file-based applications to use cloud storage without the need for modification. Its tiering policies keep frequently accessed files on local storage, which minimizes cloud access costs and Internet bandwidth usage.

Western Digital announced that the HGST Active Archive System, the first in a family of products to include the ActiveScale P100 and X100, is enabling the École Polytechnique Fédérale de Lausanne (EPFL) to archive more than 17,000 hours’ worth of live music, video, and data from the Montreux Jazz Festival to instantly enjoy, study and interact with the content well into the future. Converted from tape to digital format and stored on the HGST Active Archive System, the performances and supporting data are easily accessible in real-time and on-demand, removing physical and technological barriers, and resulting in substantial research and production workflow improvements at EPFL.

As part of the Montreux Jazz Digital Project, an HGST Active Archive System stores and delivers live video and audio recordings from a variety of concerts dating back to 1967. The recordings span 18 different media formats that were used to capture 11,000 hours of video and 6,000 hours of audio from more than 5,000 concerts. The archive is the most comprehensive collection of live music footage ever created and contains classic performances from Marvin Gaye, Ella Fitzgerald, B.B. King, Johnny Cash, Deep Purple, Eric Clapton, and more, all of whom have performed at the Montreux Jazz Festival. In recognition of its 50 years of music and video archiving, the collection was inducted into the UNESCO Memory of the World program in 2013.

StorageDNA announced the following at the NAB show:

  • DNAevolution 4.0, the latest software version of its innovative LTO LTFS archive engine, which is engineered to accelerate media workflows and help manage storage costs
  • Automated Avid®and Adobe® project backup and archiving
  • New LTO LTFS conform and partial restore workflows enabled by technology partner, MOG Technologies
  • DNAevolution Infinity Series, an integrated LTO LTFS software and hardware solution for media archiving and data management

Facilis and StorageDNA where showing combinations of shared storage and LTO LTFS archiving technology for creative media environments.  StorageDNA Evolution’s LTO LTFS technology streamlines archiving and archive asset management and offers advanced media workflows from LTO tape.

SGL demonstrated its major new version of FlashNet at NAB 2017. The company highlighted its support for integrated Amazon cloud archiving, S3-based object storage-based private cloud archiving and Sony’s Ci Media Cloud Platform. SGL’s close relationship with cloud solution companies provides the media industry with new workflows and stronger tools. This not only ensures that assets are sent to the correct place but also delivers a way for broadcasters to control storage costs by working out the price to store and retrieve assets to and from the cloud.

Spectra Logics’ BlackPearl Converged Storage System provides an approach to digital preservation by combining NAS and S3-based interfaces with multiple storage targets into a single solution. Designed for numerous concurrent workflows, BlackPearl reduces the need for expensive third-party data movers by integrating Spectra S3-based interfaces with a range of certified clients and simple file movers.

The Spectra BlackPearl Eon Browser provides a simple graphical interface that allows customers to easily move data on a host computer or a network share to a BlackPearl gateway, and copy data back to a host computer from the gateway. Data transferred to the gateway can optionally be transferred to tape- or disk‐based storage, which simplifies data transfer.

DDN was highlighting its WOS object storage capabilities including its new Extended ObjectAssure data protection and S3 multi-site connectivity options that lower archive and disk backup costs and outperform public cloud for data-transfer speed and reliability.

Extended ObjectAssure expands customer choice of protection methods, providing a wide variety of data-protection options. WOS’s low-overhead expenses make the cost of object storage competitive with tape storage alternatives. It also enables faster rebuild times that lower the risk of data loss during a rebuild and eliminate or limit performance impacts of drive failures.

Archiving is the final repository for rich media.  Today’s archives are often “active archives” that act as content libraries to support content access and delivery.  These archives are more than a passive secure content repository.  They supply data with higher latency than other storage solutions but at a lower storage cost.  With the increased amount of rich media used in modern video projects, these content repositories will become ever larger and need to support increased access patterns.



[1] 2016 Digital Storage in Media and Entertainment Survey, Coughlin Associates.


About the Author

Thomas M. Coughlin, President, Coughlin Associates is a widely respected storage analyst and consultant.  He has over 30 years in the data storage industry.  Dr. Coughlin has many publications and six patents to his credit.  Tom is also the author of Digital Storage in Consumer Electronics:  The Essential Guide, published by Newnes Press.  Tom publishes the Digital Storage Technology Newsletter, the Digital Storage in Media and Entertainment Report, and other reports.

Tom is active with SNIA, SMPTE, IEEE, and other professional organizations.  He is Education Chair for the SNIA Solid State Storage Initiative.  He is Chair of Future Directions for the IEEE Consumer Electronics Society as well as Director for IEEE Region 6.  He is a long-standing member of the CE Society BoG and was Vice President of Operations for three years.  Tom is the founder and organizer of the Annual Storage Visions Conference as well as the Creative Storage Conference. He is the general chairman of the annual Flash Memory Summit.  More on Tom at:




Broadcast Beat - Production Industry Resource