Front Porch Looks To Standardize Digital Storage With Revamped AXF

Broadcasters have long demanded an open standard for file-based archive, preservation, and exchange. However, the industry remains fraught with a multitude of media formats and no standard in place. At its NAB press conference on Sunday, Front Porch Digital announced the debut of the AXF (Archive Exchange Format), an open digital-storage format that it hopes will become that industry-wide standard.

The Promise of AXF
In 2006, SMPTE formed an AXF committee (of which Front Porch was a founding member) in hopes of developing it as a standard. However, the committee’s initiative failed to progress, and SMPTE put the AXF initiative on hiatus two years ago.

“At that point, we decided internally that we needed to reinvent AXF,” said Front Porch Digital CTO Brian Campanotti. “I think the SMPTE initiative hasn’t gone through because of a few reasons, but primarily a lack of vendor participation. I think now we’ve proven that AXF does work and can handle all these different use cases. We’re confident now that it will be [successful].”

According to Front Porch Digital, AXF is based on a file- and storage-media–agnostic encapsulation approach that abstracts the underlying file systems, operating systems, and storage technologies. The AXF object contains any type, any number, and any size of files along with structured and unstructured metadata, checksum and provenance information, and full indexing structures in a single, encapsulated package. Since the AXF object itself contains the complete file system, all the complexities and limitations of the underlying storage technology, operating system, and file system are avoided, and the same AXF object can exist on data tape, spinning disk, Flash, optical media, or other storage technology now and into the future.

The company plans to contribute its AXF designs back to the SMPTE committee in hopes of AXF standardization. Campanotti says that Front Porch has already had discussions with SMPTE concerning a relaunch of the AXF committee and will follow up shortly after NAB to address the next steps towards standardization.

AXF can be previewed as a key feature of DIVArchive V7.0, which is being introduced at the NAB Show.

DIVArchive V7.0
In addition to the integration of AXF, Version 7.0 of the DIVArchive storage platform boasts new features and capabilities as well as a new user interface.

The latest release overhauls the architecture of the DIVArchive database. DIVArchive V7.0 supports Oracle T10000C tape drives with 5 TB of native data-tape capacity and 240 Mbps throughput. The new release serves enterprises with multiple locations by incorporating full connectivity to as many as four additional, discrete DIVArchive facilities via integrated DIVAnet.

The new graphical user interface for either Windows or Mac desktops features a dashboard that provides at-a-glance monitoring of trend and resource utilization, among other system operations. To enable third-party control, DIVArchive V7.0 also adds Webservices (WS and RESTful) and Java interfaces.

Front Porch Odds and Ends
NAB Also marks the debut of Front Porch’s SAMMAsolo HD migration solution, built on the company’s newly patented SAMMA video-migration process. According to Front Porch Digital, SAMMAsolo HD is the industry’s first solution to perform real-time, quality-controlled migration of content from HD videotape into a secure, managed digital environment that both supports preservation and facilitates access.

Front Porch Digital also announced a new partnership with enterprise-class cloud–storage-services provider Nirvanix.