Tennis Channel solves archiving problem

All of the various sports leagues and TV networks and cable channels devoted to cover them have a huge organizational challenge to capture the action as it happens, broadcast it live and then archive it for repurposing. Finding the right technology to automatically handle the ever-increasing archives often means a world of difference to the production staff and the financial bottom line.

The Tennis Channel, which produces content based on coverage of live tournaments as well as original content surrounding the tennis lifestyle, was looking to end just such a nightmare when it chose to deploy a Spectra[R] T950 robotic tape library with six LTO-4 drives and 950 activated slots to store and protect its growing video footage archive. With Spectra Logic, the Tennis Channel now has a storage platform that automates tape handling and supports growing backup data sets at much faster speeds. Between several facilities, the Tennis Channel archives about 100TB per week and has done so since January 2008.

One of the channel's biggest challenges was its large amount of data that changes on a daily basis and the nine-hour backup window that the staff works in to get content into the archive.

Dean Hadaegh, CTO and senior VP of technical operations for the Tennis Channel, said the previous single-drive archival storage they were using was too slow and did not offer adequate capacity or room for growth. AN IT veteran, Hadaegh is responsible for all technical infrastructure and operations activities for the network.

He said they chose Spectra Logic date tape libraries for its reliability and ease in adding slots and drives (TeraPacks) as necessary. "The SpectraLogic automated tape library, with its multiple high-speed drives, has proven invaluable in meeting our backup time constraints," Hadaegh said. "The T-950 system's ability to be logically partitioned and handle multiple media formats is also an important factor. Besides cost savings related to the type of media, tape allows us the ability to easily off-site media for disaster recovery purposes."

At the Tennis Channel's technical operations center in Culver City, CA, HD facility, operators have partitioned the Spectra T950 into two virtual tape libraries, which are used to conduct a full backup on weekends and incremental backups on weekdays. The first, enterprise partition uses Symantec to backup the Windows environment including all servers and the share drives using the two LTO-4 drives. The second Xsan partition uses BakBone NetVault software to back up Apple environment data, including all the data in the edit bays for production, promo and the graphic department using four LTO-4 drives.

The Tennis Channel chose Symantec BackupExec and BakBone NetVault for many reasons, including ease of integration and monetary savings realized because of previously purchased licenses.

Hadaegh said the Tennis Channel repurposes most of its content in one way or another, especially its original programming content. "Integration between our air servers, program control software and the library has allowed us to reduce the amount of videotape we consume and automate or eliminate many ingest/lay back processes within our workflow that would have previously required additional manual labor."

The Tennis Channel uses the T950 library during post production within Its Apple Xsan2 networked storage environment for backup and recovery of Final Cut Pro project and source files. The SpectraLogic T200 library is used for video archiving and is controlled by MassTech software that automatically archives and retrieves video content on the fly.

The fully scalable archive will be out to good use during the upcoming U.S. Open tournament, Aug. 31-Sept. 13, in New York City.