Nick Pearce of Object Matrix: Technology Stacks Will Change to Make Most of Archives

With live sports on hold for the for-seeable future more and more sports content distributors are turning to their archives to give viewers a chance to stay connected with their favorite sporting events. Is it such a bad thing to be forced to look into the archive? When it comes to scripted shows there is clearly an appetite for old content (look at the popularity of Friends among a generation that was not born when it originally aired). Can sports content find the same success?

As historical (and not so historical) sports events make it to air networks and leagues are finding themselves diving deep into not only an old time period but older pieces of media that may not have been touched for years. And one thing that is consistent for all of them is somewhere they have content that is on LTO for their archives. As the world went tapeless for production in 2009 the media industry invested in what was the only viable technology at the time, LTO tape-based data drives.

That legacy LTO technology is then being integrated with private, hybrid and public cloud storage platforms. The new platforms ensure that an organization and its staff can access archived content at any time. It also ensures they can access the content without needing physical access to the robot or library. A number of broadcasters are looking at how they can augment rather than rip out their LTO infrastructures to preserve their long-term investments. To achieve that they are putting any archived content, recently retrieved from LTO, into an object storage based private cloud platform that both complements their existing infrastructure and makes more content available for production teams to self-serve.

LTO archives often need some manual intervention, especially if there are tapes that are not in the robot storage area. LTO still has its place today, but it does not suit the dynamic fast turnaround demands now being put on archives today nor is it suited to the demands of creative professionals needing to self-serve from the archive.

Enabling self-serve capabilities requires automation and integration from the creative tools to asset management and storage stacks. That means solid metadata but there is plenty of content on LTO tapes where the metadata ended at what was written on the tape label and hopefully logged into a spreadsheet. Simply put, you can have a great piece of content but if you can’t find it you don’t have it.

What is needed right now, and what many agree is the model for the next decade, is a move to hybrid platforms for applications, compute and storage. This enables high performance on-prem workflows and guaranteed data and metadata access for when the world returns to the new normal and the ability to work from anywhere using private or public cloud fabrics and platforms. Hybrid platforms are the best of both worlds, empowering creativity whilst ensuring business continuity should the worst happen.

By implementing a hybrid stack, creative professionals will be able to self-serve content from work in progress, nearline, archive and deep archive storage platforms regardless of local outage or physical access restrictions.

For me, the ideal broadcast production technology stack looks a bit like this:

MAMs, DAMs and PAMs
The brain that knows where everything is, orchestrates processes and puts things where they need to be. Also enables collaboration between teams and customers alike.

Production Disk
Fast disk that provides editors with a quality of service for supporting multiple streams of “anyK” content. Needs to be kept to the ‘right size’ to handle streams and not capacity.

Media-Focused Private Cloud
Secure, robust and scalable media focused object storage on-prem that backs up production storage so content is immediately available if an outage occurs on the SAN. It also provides a nearline archive consolidating islands of storage; ensures metadata longevity so creative professionals can self-serve with or without the asset management layer being available; allows content sharing and business continuity across sites to ensure content is protected and available without the need for physical access; and provides a hybrid storage platform that keeps a cache on content on-prem whilst protecting content offsite or in public cloud for disaster recovery and business continuity.

Public Cloud
The place to virtualize workflows for global collaboration and take advantage of the latest in content analysis services.

LTO, Optical or Deep Cloud Archive
With deep cloud archive platforms costing as little as $1/TB per month it is an insurance policy with a very high excess payment when you need your data back. This should be for the belt and braces 3rd or 4th copy of your data.


There has always been latent value in sports archives that, had it been fully exploited already, would have been a major income source especially during this time of crises. Now is the time to implement technology stacks that will allow us to exploit that value in the near future, to engage our communities and hopefully to all benefit from our sporting and cultural histories.


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