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Movie maker shuns cloud, gets Spectra Logic Black Pearl tape NAS

Hat Trick ditches industry-specific hardware and deploys Black Pearl, which gives NAS-like file access from tape

Cloud couldn’t cut it for movie production house Hat Trick, which replaced ageing manual tape infrastructure with LTFS “tape NAS” from Spectra Logic.

The London-based company has cut access times to its 750TB of movie files by 75% and backup times by 90%. Hat Trick creates up to 35TB for a typical TV show, and this adds up to around 750TB per annum.

The company had an Archiware tape library in place, but according to post production manager Matthew Tegg it was cumbersome to operate, with long and difficult restores.

“Archiware was TAR-based and a closed environment. We could only write to Archiware and only restore from it. If you wanted a particular file, you needed the whole tape set because it wrote across several cartridges – and there was no robotic arm,” he said.

After evaluating some media and entertainment-specific data protection products, including StorageDNA and XenData, Hat Trick deployed 120TB of NAS storage as a landing zone for files in a Spectra Logic Verde box.

This writes to a Spectra Logic T120 LTO6 tape library with one on-site and one off-site copy. In front of the tape library is Spectra Logic’s Black Pearl, which acts as an object gateway to Spectra’s tape libraries, storing and retrieving data on tape using the LTFS standard.

LTFS is a file system-style record of files on tapes and so gives NAS-like access to data. This means applications and users can copy to and from tape using drag and drop or other standard methods of data movement.

“Some of the features of media sector-specific products were attractive, such as the ways they keep camera metadata and provide for thumbnails,” said Tegg.

“But, the key thing with Spectra Logic is the complete transparency of the architecture, with login from one web interface and being able to see all 750TB, as if it’s in Microsoft Windows Explorer. We can see a file, pull it back and access it instantaneously.”

Tegg said backup tasks now take him around eight hours a week, which is a fraction of the time it previously took.

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Meanwhile, restoring files is virtually instantaneous with Spectra Logic. “Now we don’t have to load the entire volume set and find the file. Black Pearl knows exactly what’s on each tape and we can see it,” said Tegg.

Many businesses have turned to the cloud as an archiving repository. Was Hat Trick attracted to the cloud for its needs? Currently, the business feels the cloud could not cope with all its needs, said Tegg.

“The sheer traffic is so high. We might receive up to 3TB of new footage a day and there’s no way we could move that out of the building. It takes all day to move that from one room to another,” he added.

But, while the cloud is out as a store for bulk files, Hat Trick does use the cloud to allow customer access to view work and plans to use it for tasks such as media indexing.

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