06 Jun 2014

Greener Storage means lower costs

Greener Storage means lower costs

Eco: Economical and environmental

Whether you’re a small company or a transnational enterprise, you run the risk of losing control of your data and buying more and more disk space. You may be storing many copies of each file on multiple external drives, possibly in several locations. You may be clogging up your fast tier one storage with completed projects. Put aside the data security issues for a moment and consider the practicalities of keeping thousands of hours of content on fast spinning disks, running 24/7: every drive independently powered and individually backed up. It’s incredibly inefficient.

Even big data centres suffer. Reports by Gartner and by McKinsey & Company have shown that most data servers sit idle; they are rarely used to process files. Requiring cooling, maintenance and back-up generators, data centres can be massively wasteful of electricity.

According to JISC, data centres in UK universities use around 8% of the institution’s entire electricity consumption. And according to its 2012 report, the BBC’s average footprint is 8.3 tonnes of CO2; per production hour, a figure that could be reduced by getting to grips with its media storage.

850m of tape

The simple answer is perhaps to shift data to tape. Our SPACE LTO-6 systems can copy files fast (an aggregate speed of 620MB/s) giving a durable and very energy efficient archive. The benefit of LTO is that it is highly expandable: drives can be added to a network to meet the facility’s needs. Each tape is also scalable: files and projects can be spanned over multiple tapes, meaning that there’s no limit to the capacity that libraries can hold. Nevertheless, tape storage is an incomplete answer. It’s linear, delivers comparatively low file access speeds and often involves a manual process. Therefore, it’s perfect for deep archive but too slow for time pressured environments such as breaking news, sports or live TV.

20140606 Greener Storage means lower costs 2

Dynamic capacity

The fundamental issue for broadcasters and media organisations, however, is that they require very high-performance storage platforms for HD and 4K editing. These tier one systems will necessarily be power hungry. The key therefore is to maximise the efficiency of these devices, which can be achieved by using asset management tools to identify unwanted duplicate files, migrating completed projects to tape and shifting old files onto economical archive storage. With GB Labs' SPACE, these processes can be automatically handled according to rules the user sets: data is dynamically moved from tier one SPACE, to tier two ECHO and off to SPACE LTO for deep archive.

Keeping data alive

Many system administrators fall foul of the temptation of simply moving files to external hard drives for deep archive. Not only does that make file management difficult, but it jeopardises the data: hard disks unused for prolonged periods of time can develop mechanical faults, rendering them useless. We advise customers never to leave valuable archive content on unpowered external drives. LTO tape with its 30-year archival life span is far preferable and much more energy efficient.

For archived content that you need to access regularly, an archive server is ideal. It is safe and can double as a complete back up system for your tier one editing platform. Recent developments in disk technology means that 6TB drives are now available for archive systems: their huge capacity means that a single RAID server, such as our ECHO (36 bay), can host as much as 192TB. Running one large appliance, rather than multiple low capacity units is very energy efficient in itself.