Crown Media Family Networks Enhances Video Workflow With Quantum, IMT

Crown Media Family Networks has changed the way it manages high-resolution video content by adopting Quantum’s workflow-optimized storage. One of the largest U.S. providers of family-oriented content and parent company of the Hallmark Channel, Crown Media turned to Quantum and Integrated Media Technologies (IMT), a digital media technology integrator, to help it keep up with rapidly growing content production and distribution demands. IMT architected and deployed a Quantum StorNext 5 shared storage appliance and Lattus object storage system, providing a highly scalable content management solution that automatically preserves and protects the company’s digital assets while making them readily available as needed.

Content Growth Creates Storage Challenges
Under its previous storage infrastructure, Crown Media ingested files into online storage for editing and moved them to a tape archive when they were no longer active. Then, when the company needed content for repurposing or rebroadcast, it would pull the video files out of the tape archive and stage it back to online storage. As Crown Media took on more work, however, this workflow became unsustainable.

“The strain created by so much more new content meant that we were continually buying new online disk storage, managing larger tape archives that were hard to access and not protecting content as well as we should,” says Roy Burns, Director of Digital Asset Management at Crown Media. “Knowing that IMT had helped so many other companies dramatically improve their media workflows, we engaged them to help us find a solution.”

Extending Online Storage With Lattus
IMT quickly recognized the benefits Quantum could provide in Crown Media’s existing environment based on StorNext’s complete compatibility with the company’s previous Xsan online storage network. In addition, StorNext offered high-level performance and integration with Lattus, which IMT knew would provide advantages from deployments it had made at other customer sites.

Lattus uses object storage technology to create extended online storage repositories that can hold up to hundreds of petabytes of content and, through geographic distribution, provide a environment that is both more scalable and more resilient than traditional RAID arrays. The Crown Media Lattus configuration spread content between the company’s Los Angeles headquarters and a second site near Denver. For added resilience, the company has an additional controller at a third site in New York.

Archiving and Protecting Content While Keeping It Readily Accessible
The Quantum solution has enabled Crown Media not only to ingest and transcode content but also to copy it immediately to Lattus and replicate it from California to Colorado as soon as it is brought into the system.

“As a result, we get much higher levels of protection than we had before,” explains Burns. “Best of all, the process is automatic, which reduces the load on our IT guys; it completely eliminates the overhead and delays of a separate backup process.”

When content is no longer being actively used, StorNext moves it from online storage to Lattus object storage while continuing to provide editors access to all content through the StorNext file system and Levels Beyond Reach Engine. This provides Crown Media with an extended online storage environment that scales to petabytes of capacity and makes retrieving files a quick process that is fully integrated with media asset management.

“That’s important for us because we pull data content out of the archive literally every day,” continues Burns. “Plus, we see everything through Reach Engine, so we have a single point of management and control for all workflow assets.”

Looking back at the decision to adopt the Quantum solution, Burns said he and his team originally thought it would need a couple of years to grow into it. Although that proved to be inaccurate, the scalability of Lattus has easily accommodated Crown Media’s needs.

“A year later, we’re in the process of doubling the amount of content stored on Lattus, and we’d be dead without it — we wouldn’t be able to function,” concludes Burns. “The Quantum solution has been invaluable in increasing the efficiency of our workflow, from ingest to edit to delivery and re-use.”

“Customers like Crown Media are increasingly requesting storage options beyond RAID and LTO tape,” says Jason Kranitz, Senior Vice President of Sales at IMT. “The trick is the solution must integrate seamlessly into the existing workflow. With StorNext, Crown Media can not only easily deploy Lattus to take advantage of object storage today but also have the flexibility to add other technologies in the future, including Quantum’s Q-Cloud cloud storage.”

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