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ASK THE EXPERTS Storage and archive with Matthew Rehrer, Harmonic What trends are you seeing with respect to investment in archiving solutions? Investment in archiving solutions has been shaped by several major trends, all fundamentally driven by the desire to store and manage media content in such a way that it can better support effective and/or profi table use of those assets. The fi rst of these trends has been the ongoing digitization of fi lm- and videotape-based media. This is a process that some companies began quite some time ago, while others are just now ready to make the shift. It can be a monumental task to move content from videotape or celluloid to disk, and from there to multiple tiers of disk and data tape storage. For many content owners, the deci- sion to digitize media came from the realization that it was the only way to prevent degradation, deterioration, or complete loss of audio and video con- tent that very often existed nowhere else. In some cases, this content represented a valuable and irreplace- able historical or cultural record. More recently, it has become quite clear that the transfer of media to a well-de- signed digital archive offers numerous additional benefi ts. Designed and established correctly, a digital media archive becomes almost a living entity, continually expanding and offering an ever richer collection of media and metadata. With such an archive, users can easily locate and monetize stored content. This capability is essential to a second major trend, which is the leveraging of digital media archives to monetize large content libraries through new multiplatform, multiscreen services. Robust, high-performing archiving solutions make it easy for users to access and prep valuable media for new delivery formats and systems. Thus, content owners can bring new life to their media assets and open up new opportunities for not only revenue generation, but also for increasing brand awareness and client/consum- er loyalty. A digital media archive can support valuable functions such as describ- ing, searching, organizing, browsing, processing, and retrieving content, no matter where it is stored. Working with the right combination of media storage, management, and process- ing tools, the desktop user can simply search for and request content deliv- ered in a specifi c format. These are the capabilities that enable content owners to leverage existing media profi tably across new channels and distribution outlets. What should be foremost in the minds of decision-mak- ers as they invest in a digital archive solution? As far as the evaluation, selection, and implementation of a digital ar- chive solution is concerned, we see that, whether the solution is a custom system or an off-the-shelf IT-based solution tailored for media storage, the most important factor is that the system be “media aware.” In other words, the system can accommodate requirements specifi c to handling media. One such requirement is the ability to make a partial fi le transfer, or moving only the requested seg- ment of a larger media fi le out of the archive. When performed repeatedly as part of a media company’s routine workfl ow, a partial restore can yield substantial savings in time and mon- ey, as well as storage space. Flexibility in searching for content, whether as whole media assets or subsections, is a similarly valuable capability of a media-aware system. Of course, support for common and emerging media formats is an es- sential feature of archive solutions deployed in today’s multiformat media operations, as is interoperability with leading MAM solutions — and par- ticularly the MAM solution preferred by the user. The potential user should evaluate all components of the system and determine not only if the resulting installation would have the requisite performance characteristics to meet immediate operational requirements, but also if and how it could grow in capacity and/or performance as those requirements change. Among the decisions to make is whether or not solid-state memory should be used along with, or in place of, spin- ning-disk storage. Typically, a mix of the two is most benefi cial, especially within larger archive systems. In such instances, solid-state memory can be used to accelerate some tasks while the bulk of storage remains on spinning disk. Cost and performance can be opti- mized through use of a tiered storage model. With the highest cost per capacity, online storage offers the highest performance (and fastest ac- cess to content). The least expensive type of storage, offl ine storage, offers a reliable solution for preserving media but does not facilitate fast or frequent access to content. Naturally, there are options between these two extremes, and the user must determine what combination of storage types and cost/performance balance is best for his or her operations and workfl ow. Other important considerations include factors such as vendors’ past