Broadcast Beat Magazine September, 2015 - Page 67

Connectivity and Flexibility

Because the optimal storage system should to be able to provide editorial and finishing operations simultaneously, it is important that a storage system be easily configured to provide both shared file-level access and high-bandwidth block-level access as the project evolves. If it ever becomes necessary to completely switch storage systems and transfer data between offline editing and finishing, the time represents non-billable hours for not only the facility, but for the employees as well.

Now let's consider the connectivity between clients and the storage server. While 1Gb and 10Gb Ethernet is the most popular method for connecting collaborative workgroups, there is also a place for higher bandwidth connections when engaged in a finishing workflow. Fibre channel is very easy to deploy, and may already exist in many facilities. With speeds up to 16Gb/sec on a single port, this connection method offers tremendous bandwidth for the most demanding finishing workflows. A shared storage system capable of delivering both Ethernet and Fibre channel connectivity simultaneously clearly has advantages over systems that offer only one or the other.

Maintaining consistency of performance to all clients is a top priority for any post workflow. As such, a shared storage system built for media production needs to be optimized beyond what basic RAID or drive arrays can provide. With large files to read and write, along with the randomization of multiple streams and clients, traditional hard drive systems reach the limit of performance too quickly. Consistent performance is something that must be built into the design of a SAN, regardless of how many clients attach to it, or how full it is.

The best way to guarantee performance is by using block-level virtualization. The result of this virtualization is a pool of storage, for use in allocating project-based volumes. In this virtualized mode, the storage system writes data in a pattern across the entire group, on all of the disks, and is not bound by the speed, portion or sector (position) on any given disk.

Investments made today in storage architecture need to include plans for supporting UHD workflows as they continue to become commonplace. The good news is that the technology exists today to support everything that will be coming through the door in the foreseeable future. The Facilis TerraBlock 24D/HA is an example of such a hybrid solution that allows facilities to simultaneously perform multi-stream 4K+ finishing workflows and high-bandwidth collaborative editorial workflows on a single enclosure.

In these days of ever shrinking budgets and schedules, post houses can’t afford to turn away work. However, it seems that there’s an almost daily influx of new camera formats to contend with that have the potential to grind workflows to a halt. Looming even larger on the horizon is the planned UHDTV specification, which includes much more than simply stipulating the number of pixels across the screen, like HFR (high frame rates of 60 and 120 frames per second), additional data to carry information for HDR (High Dynamic Range) and an expanded color gamut. Over time, as all or some of these characteristics get rolled into mainstream acquisition, the sizes of files and corresponding bandwidth requirements can increase exponentially. For a modern postproduction facility, it’s clear that this will tax the storage infrastructure in new ways and has the potential to disrupt all of the hard-won efficiencies of HD production.

James McKenna is VP of Marketing at Facilis Technology


IBC Issue September 2015