31 Mar 2020

Ortana

Orchestration and harmonised storage strike a chord

Storage provider GB Labs and Ortana, the creator of Cubix, the asset orchestration, management, and automation software, have come together to provide a unique customer experience.

Ortana Founder and CTO James Gibson said, “People talk about media asset management, but orchestration is what people are really interested in. MAM is just a by-product.

“But if an orchestrator can’t accurately understand the devices it’s talking to or what is taking place with a piece of technology at any moment in time, it’s not much use.”

To demonstrate interoperability, several years ago Ortana conducted a proactive Cubix integration project in conjunction with GB Labs storage as a best-of-breed exercise.

According to Gibson, “I worked with GB Labs for many years as a customer and have great respect for their expertise. One major benefit of working with them on various projects was their consistency in approach of establishing and ensuring a technical commonality across their product range.

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Working with the archives team, the broadcaster's Research & Development team and GB Labs, a system was configured that integrates with existing fault tracking, QC and database systems.

The project being given priority because of was the impending obsolescence of the D3 format tapes that the content was originally recorded on.

Facing the prospect of holding years of programmes on unusable tapes, the archives team needed to transfer the content to modern media, quickly, safely and accurately.

Ben Pearce, Chief Business Officer and Co-Founder of GB Labs, comments:

“The archive tapes need to stand the test of time so the broadcaster stipulated that the LTO drives should be able to sustain the maximum writing speed in order to avoid any wear from tape shuttling.

And to ensure that as many as 20 quality control operators can concurrently access any of the uncompressed files over its network, they had to be sure that our shared storage solution could handle this high level of data traffic.

With the SPACE and VAULT integration, the transfer and quality checking process has been significantly speeded up while data security has been improved.”

With tape handling reduced, copying times lowered and the speed of fault tracking increased, BBC Archives are now working their way through the backlog of material awaiting quality control.

The team has learnt lessons about resilience and redundancy along the way and is now confident that it has now mastered an improved method of fast and safe content archiving.

News archives, comedy shows, dramas and documentaries are now secured for future audiences.

Whether it is released on disk, broadcast as TV repeats, made available via an online platform or simply pored over by social historians, years of D3 archive have been preserved for posterity.

The project being given priority because of was the impending obsolescence of the D3 format tapes that the content was originally recorded on.

Facing the prospect of holding years of programmes on unusable tapes, the archives team needed to transfer the content to modern media, quickly, safely and accurately.

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“What that means is that although their products are designed to suit a wide range of needs, it is technically consistent. From a standalone LTO device to their high-end SSD storage and everything in between, all are driven with in-built intelligence anchored by their CORE.4 OS.”

GB Lab’s new CORE.4 is a high-performance custom OS specifically designed to serve media files with an additional intelligence layer that delivers ultimate stability and quality of service for every user. Moreover, its power-saving intelligence means that CORE.4 ensures consistent, reliable performance whilst using the least amount of disks. Its expanded range of demonstrably useful features are all engineered to further enhance users’ ability to manage and enhance online workflows.

Gibson added “when it comes to integrating those storage systems with our asset orchestration technology, CORE.4 OS enables it to be done simultaneously and seamlessly. Establishing interoperability with the most crucial component needed for orchestration, i.e., storage, is painless with GB Labs.”

"That synergy is because the modular approach to product development that both companies take is very similar, which benefits customers of both. In applications for which they are deployed, Cubix and GB Labs can work independently, but to achieve optimum performance, they benefit from working together. The manner in which they are individually architected means that both systems know exactly what is expected of the other to work in tandem, whether it’s ingest, content discovery, archive, workflow orchestration, tape ingest, or one of many other tasks. They just “get each other”.

Another key parallel, and benefit, is reusability.

Gibson said, “Many products these days have a working life that can easily exceed the life of the project for which they were purchased. Cubix orchestration software and GB Labs storage products, on the other hand, can be easily redeployed to address changing business requirements without having to justify and endure another round of CAPEX.”

And it’s those differing needs that Ortana soon plans to address in conjunction with GB Labs by co-parenting “Kiosk”, an exciting new approach based on the concept of “bring your own storage”.

It has long been a tenant of both Ortana and GB Labs that to use their respective technologies there is no need to rip out existing infrastructures. Both are able to sit as a layer on top, and make better use, of what is already there.

Ortana has designed Kiosk to make managing media simpler and more affordable by wrapping orchestration around existing storage until the time comes to upgrade or expand.

Gibson said, “The concept of Kiosk is that, if you have legacy storage, or storage you are contracted to, you can reinvigorate it with an orchestrator that includes a fast way to find and retrieve assets or anything else that you specifically need it to do. GB Labs and Cubix are respectively renowned for enabling users to make use of what they already have. We’ve taken a page from what GB Labs has done with its award-winning Mosaic software. In a sense, Kiosk reimagines Mosaic for its own purposes.”

GB Labs storage systems Mosaic is a combination of AI and intelligent storage that culminate in an automatic, vastly enriched way to track and find media assets. Kiosk is a complementary technology designed to fully examine the movement of media through an active workflow. In cases that include GB Labs storage, Kiosk and Mosaic work in concert to exploit the intelligence of both.

Kiosk is initially targeted at, what have traditionally been, smaller clients, and Gibson anticipates that Kiosk will help people understand that Ortana can layer orchestration on top of their existing storage, if that’s what they prefer.

Gibson concludes, “We have a great relationship with GB Labs, but for those who are not quite ready to upgrade their storage speed and reliability, Kiosk can assume initial responsibility for an existing infrastructure and drive what they have, if that’s all they want for now.

“However, we work with more than 50 integration partners, and we all share a belief in each other’s products and a confidence that when we work together, we can deliver what we promise. The pairing of minds at Ortana and GB Labs is an ideal illustration of partners who know and trust one another.

“I have the greatest respect for the GB Labs team; our business model commonality; technical expertise; and like-minded approach to thinking differently about how to further improve life for our customers. In my view, it’s a perfect pairing of orchestration and storage that enables its users to thrive in a rapidly changing content creation, transmission, and distribution market.”