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The Archive Revolution

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SGL, a leading provider of content archive and storage management software for multiple business sectors including post production, news, sports and government has clients on every continent, serviced globally by offices in the US, UK, Germany, Singapore and Australia.

SGL's FlashNet content storage management system delivers unrivalled levels of resilience, flexibility and adaptability. Regardless of the size or environment, FlashNet's clustered architecture and open approach provide secure, future-proof business solutions that grow with the customer.

FlashNet can control and manage all aspects of attached storage systems, whether to near-line, disk, tape or optical disk or the cloud. The software presents the broadcast archive as a single storage repository, ensuring a seamless integration into all types of workflow. With a mature network of both hardware and software partners, SGL has developed an unrivalled integration programme providing broadcasters and content owners with a truly adaptable and flexible video archiving solution.

SGL ensures that all of its customers' assets are fully protected. The company has many archives installed around the world where Disaster Recovery workflows are either in use or can be made DR-capable quickly and easily. Its scalable FlashNet architecture provides a clustered system of multiple servers, or nodes, each in constant communication. Each cluster node has identical software installed, and each is connected via a fibre channel into the archive devices – generally disk storage and one or more tape libraries. At the heart of the cluster is a Microsoft SQL database, which is usually installed across two servers running a Microsoft cluster for automatic failover.

The archive has been revolutionised over the past few years and SGL has been at the forefront of this change. With the successful take-up of LTFS, fully supported by SGL, broadcasters and content owners have true interoperability between what were once disparate systems. Now material can be acquired directly to disk and dragged-and-dropped to data tape and transported back to a facility. This removes the need to re-ingest content to the archive and also enables large amounts of data to be transported and archived on a single LTO tape. This type of workflow is just as valid on location as it is in a production facility. To banish the 'end of the line' archive message, once the tape has been loaded into the archive, duplicate copies can be made automatically to back-up the valuable material. The archive system can also automatically copy the content to a disk portion of the archive so that craft editors can start working with the material as swiftly as possible.

This places the 'archive' much further forward in the production process placing it alongside the ingest element of the chain. Instead of ingesting in the traditional sense, the material can now be moved directly into the LTFS archive. LTO has grown to become one of, if not the, de-facto tape format installed in tape libraries by broadcast-centric organisations implementing tape (and disk)-based archives. LTFS is not a file format or even a wrapper; it presents an open standard for broadcasters to provide real interoperability between systems. Any tape written according to the LTFS specification can be read by any other system using the same specification.

The cloud is also becoming part of the storage hierarchy, which SGL is integrating into its strategy. The latest version of FlashNet brings to fruition SGL's new integration with Aspera. Using FlashNet, broadcasters and content owners can transfer media to the cloud at a guaranteed speed providing an additional means of storage and disaster recovery workflows.

SGL has strong industry partnerships with leading key players including: Avid, Grass Valley, Marquis, CatDV, Aspera, VSN and more. Using SGL's XML-based API (Application Programming Interface) users are able to create integrated applications to access the SGL content storage management system. FlashNet is integrated via API with most hardware and middleware from the leading names in broadcast and media asset management. To further simplify the integration processes SGL provides remote lab access to enable solution developers to test and validate their new products working in conjunction with SGL software, without leaving the comfort of their office.

Whether a customer is looking for a single site archive system, main and back-up operation or a hub and spoke configuration, SGL's solutions can accommodate requirements with ease. With a close relationship with all the key industry hardware and software partners, SGL's unrivalled integration programme provides broadcasters and media companies with a truly adaptable and flexible video archiving solution. SGL's industry leading solutions are endorsed by the company's comprehensive list of high profile clients across the globe.

Article by Lee Sheppard, Director of Product Management, SGL.

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