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ITV goes on air with SpectraLogic LTFS tape backup and archive

2PB of SpectraLogic tape front-ended by Black Pearl LTFS object storage access creates integrated archive that lets broadcaster optimise use of existing Isilon clustered NAS

Broadcaster ITV has deployed more than 2PB of SpectraLogic disk and tape, in a move that has integrated backup and archiving with production apps and freed up capacity on Dell EMC Isilon clustered network-attached storage (NAS) that had struggled to cope with multiple tiers of data.

ITV is the largest commercial television network in the UK. It operates numerous TV channels and delivers content via mobile devices, video on demand and third-party platforms.

The company had been reliant solely on its Isilon clustered NAS infrastructure – comprising about 8PB in total – and other local NAS boxes, to which all parts of the organisation stored production and archive data. But that setup was nearing capacity and had become difficult to manage.

“It was getting full,” said technology director Peter Russell. “And it was a single tier of storage that was being used for everything from fast-turnaround data to longer-term storage.”

When it became apparent a new system was needed, ITV looked at “all the big players in the marketplace”, said senior project manager Marcel Mester.

“But we chose SpectraLogic because we were looking for a platform that could operate with automated tools in the front end but also manual drag-and-drop. We also needed data replication across multiple datacentres that is highly available 24/7,” said Mester.

ITV has deployed SpectraLogic hardware at two separate datacentres. The Greenwich datacentre deployed a BlackPearl and T950 with IBM TS1150 drives, and the Leeds datacentre deployed a BlackPearl and T950 with LTO-7 tape drives.

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At each location, the Black Pearl disk cache is 65TB, with around 2PB of tape capacity behind it so far at each site. Production storage is still handled by Isilon, but data is pushed to Black Pearl at the end of those processes.

Spectra Logic’s Black Pearl acts as a disk cache and an object storage gateway to Spectra’s tape libraries, which store data on tape using the Linear Tape File System (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.

ITV’s SpectraLogic setup makes copies that go to the two datacentres on two media formats. “It’s risk mitigation in terms of geographical location and against industry failure with regard to media types,” said Russell. “We need to keep data for 30 years, so we need to be assured.”

ITV organisations using SpectraLogic

Three ITV organisations use the platform: ITV Broadcast, which archives all programmes produced on UK channels; ITV studios, which archives all media produced in making programmes and is the biggest producer by volume; and ITV regional news, which archives programmes and important sequences from 10 regional sites.

A key benefit is that moving secondary data to SpectraLogic has removed the need for its Isilon estate to house multiple tiers of data, said Russell.

“It has very much lightened the load on the Isilon clusters,” he said. “It allows them to act as one tier of storage instead of several. The idea was to get the older media off them and now we can use it as a work-in-progress store as originally intended.”

Russell also said a key benefit is that applications are fully integrated into SpectraLogic. “Some are fully automated, some semi-automated via drag-and-drop. It is one platform that can accept user-driven ways of operating though to fully automated without middleware.”

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