Omneon MediaGrid enables massive storage capacities

Omneon Video Networks took the wraps off the Omneon MediaGrid Active Storage System at NAB, giving sports content owners a flexible, affordable server-based archive system based on off-the-shelf IT technology and Omneon s dynamic file management technology. MediaGrid was built as an extension of our media servers and is built around the notion of file-based workflow, IT components, and some special proprietary special sauce, says Geoff Stedman, Omneon VP of marketing.

Stedman says the system takes the grid storage computing architecture found in large data processing systems and brings it to the video industry. It s an active storage system that can do more than just storage, he says. The goal is to let everyone in a facility be a more active participant in workflow.

The grid architecture allows for the system to connect an unlimited amount of individual storage servers that are based on 500 GB SATA drives. Each server can be 4RU in size with 12TB of storage. A second server model is available with 24 drives that has more storage but less bandwidth because the data is stored over 24 drives.

A great thing about this system is there is never a need to restripe data, says Stedman. You can go from 5TB to 5PB and never restripe it and if there is a failed drive you don t need to match drive sizes to get back up and running.

There is no Omneon-designed hardware in the system, says Stedman. Off-the-shelf processors, standard disk drives and a Linux operating system form the backbone, a step in keeping with Omneon s long-held belief that off-the-shelf technology can best serve customer needs for more cost-effective storage systems. We can capitalize on the cost curves of the broader IT industry and scale the system to much larger sizes than otherwise possible, he says.

MediaGrid appears to be a panacea for those cursing an age where file incompatibility can often slow down workflows. MediaGrid supports any media format and can also pull files in from other manufacturer s servers. There s no proprietary wrapper to store files, says Stedman. They re stored in their native format.

That allows for integrated, active transcoding among dozens of servers connected over Gigabit Ethernet. You can ingest content at contribution quality and then automatically create a proxy file used by different desktop systems for editing, says Stedman. You can also create different distribution versions like long GOP for playout.

Omneon s special sauce relies in Content Director, a file system controller that maintains information about the data stored across the drives. The software layer takes the data and slices it into 8-64 MB slices that are then scattered across the disk array, says Stedman. There is also no RAID storage as the slices are written in entirety to a certain disk drive. Each slice is also replicated elsewhere in the storage pool and the user can put up to four copies of a slice for maximum redundancy.

The nodes in the grid back each other up and there is distinction between the original file and the clones, says Stedman. In addition, with more copies it s easier for four or five editors to access content files. If the user thinks there will be high demand for a file they can simply increase the number of copies.

More importantly, Stedman says that in case of failure the system can quickly rebuild storage in a matter of minutes as opposed to hours. A class-based replication system can have A class copies stored locally while B class copies could be stored in a backup location or second production site, he says.