When WRN Broadcast needed a scalable and resilient storage platform to facilitate 20 new channels and cross-site file transfer for its latest customer, Pixit Media had the answer
Founded in 1992, WRN Broadcast is a leading international broadcast managed services company that offers a range of services to its global client base. The company has seen consistent, year- on-year growth since 2010 across its comprehensive range of content management, playout, delivery and archive, and storage services.
Meanwhile, there is a continued drive to develop and improve the services it offers across television, radio and IP, which recently saw the company launch a unique OTT delivery service. WRN Broadcast’s clients include MTV, VH-1, Zuku HD and Zuku SD, and Nickelodeon.
WRN Broadcast recently partnered with a new broadcast client to handle the transmission of 20 music, entertainment and movie channels. This required a dedicated near-line content store to support 40 Grass Valley K2 playout servers. With frequent up-to-the-minute programme changes and 24/7 broadcasting, the solution had to be extremely reliable and capable of handling concurrent access from all playout servers.
Operators at the London-based facility would also need to edit content in Rhozet WFS directly from the storage to make any necessary corrections prior to transmission – at the same time that the playout servers were loading content. And with an increasing amount of content and the possibility of more channels being added, there was a requirement for a highly scalable solution with consideration for the potential impact concurrent transfers can have on network performance.
With a fast turnaround required, WRN Broadcast considered an off- the-shelf ZFS-based solution. “We liked a lot of the data management and performance features that come with ZFS,” says WRN Broadcast chief technology officer Dave Travis.
“As a modern broadcast managed services provider, we try to look outside of the more traditional storage and network solutions, buy smart and pass on any savings to our clients. However, the scalability and failover options with ZFS were too limited for our availability and growth requirements. We also had quite a challenge finding a storage supplier that could design a solution with our specific network in mind.”
WRN Broadcast approached Pixit Media, a provider of highly scalable, enterprise scale-out storage solutions for content creators and distributors, to propose a bespoke storage architecture to meet its requirements.
“We knew Pixit Media’s broadcasting customer base was limited but the outstanding work it has done, particularly in the post-production market, just couldn’t be ignored,” says Travis. “Pixit Media was able to come in and review our entire workflow, examine our network efficiency and offer a resilient and scalable solution that met our needs down to the exact stream count.”
Pixit Media provided WRN Broadcast with a cost-effective dual-head scale-out NAS solution powered by Pixit Media’s enhanced version of the GPFS file system developed exclusively for the media and entertainment market and underpinned by server, storage and networking hardware from Dell.
Pixit’s Scale-Out NAS allows WRN Broadcast to reliably aggregate multiple Dell R720 servers and entry-level MD3200 storage arrays into a single, highly resilient content store that could be quickly expanded up to multi-petabyte level, as future requirements demand, with a linear increase in performance.
To eliminate the oversubscription problems that are common in file- based workflows, Pixit Media also provided redundant Dell Force10 S60 1/10Gb network switches.
The Dell Force10 S60’s industry- leading port buffering capabilities ensure that the 1Gb connected Grass Valley K2 playout servers are not oversubscribed with IP traffic from the 10Gb connected PixSN heads. By eradicating the risk of oversubscription, Pixit Media could guarantee end- to-end performance that would otherwise lead to unpredictable network speed and interruptions to the overall workflow.
An additional benefit was the built- in PixCache cloud-storage technology, which has given WRN Broadcast the ability to offer its customers ‘drop-box’ style functionality for moving assets between sites.
“PixCache has greatly improved the ease and speed of file transfer direct from our customers and straight into the WRN Broadcast content repository. Once the customer is finished with a content piece, all they have to do is drag the file into a local CIFS share and it’s instantly available for playout at our facility” says Travis.
PixCache accelerates and overcomes WAN latency problems by caching assets at the remote site and immediately parallelising the transfer of data to the central facility. Travis continues: “And because PixCache is included with the overall cost of the licence, we have been able to significantly reduce our expenditure on the traditional WAN acceleration technologies.”
“Overall, the Pixit Media solution has been outstanding,” says Travis. “Data integrity, scalability and performance were the three primary criteria for the solution and Pixit Media answered the brief perfectly.”
What does the future hold for WRN Broadcast and Pixit Media? Travis concludes: “The level of support and expertise we’ve received from Pixit Media has far exceeded our expectations – it has been more of a partner than a supplier, which is exactly how we work with our clients for the very best results. Its first-class solution and single point of contact support services means we’re excited to see how Pixit Media could help as we continue to expand our service offerings in the future.”