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The Next Big Thing: High-Performance Video Storage

Monday, June 1, 2015

Over the past decade, digital video technology has advanced by leaps and bounds, and today entire feature films can practically be made using the smartphone cameras we all carry around in our pockets. Here at Stanford, increasing emphasis and resources are being placed upon video as both a primary (i.e., MOOCs) and supplementary instructional tool.

 While shooting hours of digital video footage has become increasingly simple, what comes after the initial capture has grown increasingly complex. Digital video files take up a lot of digital space, and storing them locally isn’t always a realistic option. Video production teams require terabytes of storage, and when you need to move those files back and forth in the course of editing, versioning, and archiving, their sheer size can strain the capacity of the average network.

Capacity and performance

These challenges are currently being tackled head-on in a joint project initiated by the Graduate School of Business (GSB) with University IT. GSB has long been a leader when it comes to multimedia production at Stanford. In early 2015, the GSB IT team approached the University IT Data Storage Services (DSS) team seeking a scalable, high-performance video storage solution. DSS responded by implementing a video storage area network (SAN) for GSB based on Quantum’s StorNext Pro platform.
High-speed storage hardware resides in the Forsythe data center and is connected to GSB workstations by fiber channel networking, ensuring the throughput required to service digital video workflow. Seamless integration with a public cloud storage vendor ensures virtually unlimited off-premise storage for both archive and disaster recovery purposes. The end result: GSB multimedia users have delightedly declared the performance of the new video SAN “super fast!”

A new service

DSS worked with the University IT Technical Facilities and Network Facilities teams to put all the pieces together. The successful result of the GSB project has gradually evolved into a new University IT service offering. Over the next few months, DSS will be scaling up to be able to offer video SAN service to other departments across the campus. As more departments come on board, the team anticipates the shared cost to gradually decrease.
Questions about University IT’s nascent video storage service may be directed to Michael Bourgette of the Data Storage Services team.

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