Streamlining shared content

ADIC’s StorNext FS manages Turner’s broadcast inventory management, the central cache that stores and delivers air material to a network playout server.

One of the major goals of Turner Broadcasting System's new all-digital network operations center (NOC) was to manage shared content more efficiently. The company's 19 separate broadcast networks have their own unique identity and programming, but they share up to 40 percent of their promotional spots and commercials. Previously, each network had a separate broadcast operations center (BOC) that ingested and stored this content. That arrangement meant that the system was storing many “masters,” and systems for each network were going through the same process more than once for the same files.

To maximize the use of its servers, disk space and people, Turner created a shared-storage architecture in its new NOC using a new SAN management tool, the StorNext SAN file system (StorNext FS) from ADIC. The new system creates a centralized storage system and media-operations group to serve all of the broadcast networks, and has enough capacity to provide shared access to a common set of more than 30,000 commercials and promos. The NOC ingests material for the entire center and manages it in a high-bandwidth, multi-tiered, shared-storage environment. Instead of a separate BOC, each network now has a “pod” that stages content based on its individual playout schedule and creates local copies of shared master files.

When the company first planned the new center, it looked at network-attached-storage (NAS) filers, but they couldn't handle the center's voluminous data. Instead, the company installed a large SAN with 22TB of centralized disk capacity, along with 11 UNIX servers to stream data out to the pods. The key to making this architecture work is the right SAN file system, and the company evaluated all the options before choosing StorNext FS.

The SAN management tool is a distributed file system that manages high-performance shared access to files stored on disk resources over a switched fabric. For its central-storage pool, Turner needed a combination of transparent data access, high performance and high availability. The management system lets each of the servers access all the data in the centralized disk arrays directly and at wire speeds. It offers flexible, high-performance streaming, even with file sizes ranging from 250MB to several gigabytes.

Turner often has to create many local copies from the central master, so being able to manage time and bandwidth efficiently is critical. The SAN management system supports multiple network destinations efficiently. For time-critical tasks, it also can give bandwidth priority to specific jobs.

High availability is critical when storage resources are centralized. Because the new storage architecture makes the same content available transparently to multiple hosts, it provides an important built-in protection against the failure of any one host. The system is fully journaled, allowing rapid rebuilds in case of a system fault; it provides fast, automated failover between primary and standby control servers; and it allows for the addition of new hosts without interrupting operations.

StorNext FS provides file sharing equally well for multiple operating systems in heterogeneous SANs. Today, Turner's file streaming hosts are Solaris machines, but the file system allows the company to use a lower-cost Wintel cluster for the metadata servers. It offers the option of adding other platforms as technologies evolve.

Clyde Smith is senior vice president of broadcast entertainment technology for Turner Entertainment Networks.

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