Case Study: IMS Productions Taps Spectra Logic BlackPearl Converged Storage

When IMS Productions needed to upgrade storage for its valuable digital assets, it turned to Spectra Logic BlackPearl converged-storage system, which integrated with IMSP’s existing Avid Interplay | Production system.

One of IMSP’s production rooms.

IMSP’s Content Division — which specializes in creative development and design and strategic digital and web production and distribution — and Mobile Production Group — which supplies state-of-the-art remote broadcast facilities — create digital assets comprising more than 40 TB of racing footage per year over the course of 16 racing weeks. For most of these large assets, Avid Interplay | Production manages content creation, automates workflows, and enables collaboration. Previously, once content had been edited, IMSP used middleware to move content off Avid Nexis production storage to an Oracle StorageTek SL500 tape library with LTO-3 drives.

IMSP was in search of a modern open-standard–based archive solution that would seamlessly integrate with the Avid environment. The company also required the ability to manage and protect creative non-Avid assets, such as still pictures, large video files, 4K and 8K raw camera files, etc. The system would need to accommodate the archive of IMSP’s non-digitized assets (such as film from 1911) and be able to house them for five to 10 years and beyond.

Also, the archive must scale in capacity at low predictable costs and break away from the traditional licensing models. Longevity, content integrity, and speed of access were also required. In addition, IMSP needed a way to migrate footage off HD cams to use immediately in the field, while giving the editors instant access. And the new solution needed to be able to run alongside the previous archive while legacy content was being migrated to a new generation of LTO tape technology, LTO-7.

IMSP decided to replace its legacy middleware and tape library with a Spectra BlackPearl converged-storage system and a Spectra T200 tape library. The tight integration between BlackPearl and Avid Interplay | Production allowed IMSP to archive directly from the Avid environment to a mix of disk and tape, while using LTFS open-standard. The organization was impressed with the ease of use and the seamless integration between Interplay PAM (production-asset management) and BlackPearl.

With this solution, new video is ingested into Interplay PAM, edited on Nexis production storage, and stored via the Interplay PAM client for BlackPearl directly to the T200 tape library. This workflow is fast, simple, and lowers network congestion.

For creative assets not managed by Avid, IMSP used the BlackPearl Eon Browser, a no-charge client (application) from Spectra. The Eon Browser facilitates the transfer and storage management of IMSP’s creative assets to a second partition on its Spectra T200 tape library with a drag-and-drop interface. This provided IMSP a clear path to store creative assets that previously sat on a disk subsystem and were exposed to potential loss.

Spectra Logic BlackPearl converged storage

The tightly integrated solution between Avid Interplay | Production and BlackPearl has allowed IMS Productions to simply and affordably store not only Avid assets but also their creative assets, in one easy-to-use workflow.

“We throw terabytes upon terabytes at the BlackPearl each day, and I simply cannot bottleneck the system,” says Dave Daniels, editor/supervisor, non-linear, IMSP. “The speed blows us away, and it keeps us on our toes. In addition, the Spectra solution fits seamlessly into our current Avid environment and does not disrupt our editors’ workflow.”

Network Environment

  • Spectra BlackPearl S Series
  • Avid Interplay | Production Application
  • BlackPearl Eon Browser
  • Spectra T200 tape library
  • LTO-7 drives and media
  • Avid Nexis
  • Cisco 4500 IP switches

Why Spectra?

  • Modern architectural design with extensive roadmap
  • Seamless integration between BlackPearl and Interplay | PAM
  • Lower TCO model
  • Simplicity and ease of use
  • Ability to archive non-Avid creative assets via BlackPearl Eon Browser

Solution Recap 

Spectra BlackPearl converged storage system was designed to provide a simple portal to a multi-tier storage architecture and to break away from traditional and legacy solutions based on licensing models, which drive greater cost when scaling. Designed for organizations whose content and long-term integrity are at the core of their business, BlackPearl allows data to move seamlessly to disk and tape storage, in a way not previously possible. It enables users to deploy tiers of storage, even cloud, that are cost-effective, easy to manage, and scalable to exabytes of data. BlackPearl’s RESTful API and integrated advanced bucket management (ABM) retain and manage an organization’s assets forever at costs as low as pennies per gigabyte.

Designed to meet the performance backup and archive requirements of small and medium-size organizations, the Spectra T200 library is easy to use, manage, and maintain. It also integrates with BlackPearl. Scalable from 50 to 200 slots, it can store more than 1.2 PB (3 PB compressed) of data. Accommodating up to eight LTO drives, it can transfer data at up to 8.6 TB per hour (21.6 TB per hour compressed) in a 20RU form factor.

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