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experience and qualifi cations, includ- ing their evolution and lessons learned in providing successful systems. Additional questions should delve into the costs of setup, daily operations, support and maintenance, and incre- mental scaling of the system. What archive system features and capabilities are essential to seamless and cost-effective expansion? Scalability is essential to the cost-ef- fective deployment and maintenance of a digital archive system. This is true primarily because it enables users fi rst to make an up-front investment in a quality storage infrastructure that meets their current and near-term requirements, and then gives them the fl exibility to expand incrementally and cost-effectively — without any interruption to ongoing operations — until they hit a natural threshold for more signifi cant system growth. For example, a user might start with a few terabytes in archive storage capacity and expand over time to a system of multiple petabytes. With this fl exibility, typically enabled by the use of hot-swappable mod- ular storage drives, users can adapt their archive systems to maintain a good cost/performance balance. The accompanying fi le system software also plays a critical role in enabling smooth, rapid system expansion. Together, these elements help to elimi- nate the need for “forklift” hardware upgrades or the long and error-prone process of migrating content from an aging archive system to a newer solution. While ease of expansion is a must, so too is the ability to undertake this incremental system growth without disrupting users’ access to stored content. In fact, whether during scaling of the system or during regular maintenance of the digital media ar- chive, uncompromised media access and archive system performance are key to the continuity of media opera- tions. What is the ideal relationship between an archive or stor- age system and the user’s media asset management (MAM) system? The relationship of storage and archiv- ing to the user’s wider MAM system must be very close; they must be very tightly integrated. Though storage can provide the necessary level of performance, such as fast access to media and sometimes tools such as partial-restore, the powerful search capabilities and robust interface func- tionality of the MAM make it an equal- ly important element in a successful archive solution deployment. Given the need for these systems to work so closely with one another, it pays for the potential user to explore solutions offered by vendors that offer ingest, playout, storage, and MAM solutions. Though not every component need be purchased from just one vendor, the fact that the vendor has expertise in all of these areas does suggest that it is capable of offering a solution that meets the user’s needs, not just a single product. What does the future hold with respect to the file formats used for archiving? The future of archive fi le formats is diffi cult to predict. Just as a particu- lar format or model appears to be gaining viability as a formal or infor- mal standard, the size of source fi les makes another jump up, demanding another approach. Storage density was very different prior to the wide- spread migration to HD. Handling a large volume of SD media fi les would be no great task for today’s systems, but the emergence of 4K and even 8K production, as well as strong interest in increased dynamic range and frame ASK OUR EXPERTS rates, presents signifi cant challenges. Despite the fact that no single com- mon fi le format has been broadly adopted, the Interoperable Mastering Format (IMF) provides a wrapper that is proving a solid choice for content owners seeking to create and distrib- ute content across multiple geograph- ic regions. In the simplest of terms, what IMF does is provide the combi- nation of media fi les, specifi c playlists, and output instructions necessary to create the required fi le. The model enabled by IMF is a very appeal- ing alternative to maintaining the hundreds or thousands of versions often associated with internationally distributed programming. Obviously, there is much to be gained in terms of effi ciency and storage-cost savings if a content owner can store an asset in just one format that facilitates sub- sequent creation of region- or mar- ket-specifi c copies. What is Harmonic doing to help customers implement the best digital archive solu- tions for their needs? Harmonic supplies storage solutions that range from the smallest be- ginnings of a system to large-scale systems that boast multiple petabytes of capacity. Whatever the size of the system, Harmonic works with its customers to assure that the system deployed meets their initial needs and can grow along with the user’s busi- ness. Though Harmonic is capable of designing and delivering huge solu- tions with the capacity to accommo- date all the media the user eventually will digitize, the company focuses on identifying an intelligent roadmap that enables the user to invest incremen- tally, expanding the system as content is digitized, rather than paying for extra storage capacity, power, and space not yet needed. POST YOUR QUESTION ONLINE: Search ‘tvbay’ Tel. +44 (0)1635 237 237 Email.