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Begun in 1965 to air 15-minute radio segments, Amazing Facts has grown into one of the nation’s largest religious broadcast ministries, airing content over more than 150 radio stations and a variety of over-the-air, cable, and satellite television platforms. A constant challenge has been updating infrastructure to keep up with, and take advantage of, changing technology.
Storage to Support File-based Media
“Ever since we moved to a file-based workflow, we have constantly wrestled with the problem of how to store, protect, and reuse the content we create,” explains Goce Shamakoski, Media Systems Engineer at Amazing Facts. Initially, the team installed an Xsan storage network and shared disk, but eventually saw its limitations.
One issue was data volume. “When we record a service, we use five cameras to give us maximum flexibility and impact,” says Shamakoski, “and the result is that a typical hour-long program uses about half a terabyte of disk space.” The storage filled up quickly and additional disk resources were expensive.
Also difficult was accessing older content from manually created LTO tapes. Shamakoski remembers, “we dedicated a part-time admin just to manage the archiving operation. It consumed 20 to 30 hours a week, and even then, it took us days to retrieve content to repurpose.”
The team worked with media specialist Advanced Systems Group (ASG) to find a solution that would provide better scalability, archiving, and flexibility. “We also wanted to find a long-term partner,” explains Shamakoski, “one who was committed to this industry and could provide the support that we needed both at the installation phase and through future operations.”
ASG recommended StorNext, but Amazing Facts needed to be sure it was the right choice. “We looked at every supplier of storage systems we could find, but didn’t find anybody else who could give us high-performance collaborative workflow and integrate archiving, too,” notes Shamakoski.
Making the Transition Smooth
Amazing Facts built its new system around a StorNext metadata controller, 150TB of high-performance QXS RAID, and a StorNext AEL500 Archive LTO library. The switchover was perfectly smooth, says Shamakoski. “The upgrade team started working on Friday evening, and by Monday morning when the editors came into work, StorNext was up and running, and all the material from our Xsan was there and ready to work on in the same folders. The only thing they had to do differently was access the volume under a different name.”
With StorNext, archiving is fully automated. “As soon as we ingest any content, the system automatically creates two copies on tape in the AEL Archive,” Shamakoski explains. One is vaulted for DR protection while the other stays in the library. The team reclaims disk space by removing older files, but leaves a copy on tape. Editors see all the files through the Mac file system, and files on tape are restored to disk automatically on demand.
The StorNext archive also enhances data protection, since a copy of everything is automatically created on tape, and the library includes an Extended Data Life Management (EDLM) feature that validates the integrity of data on tape by loading media into drives, checking for errors, and automatically copying files to new media.
Amazing Facts is starting to look at expanding the StorNext environment, including adding support for the cloud and hybrid storage, as it plans moving to a new, larger facility.
Founded in 1965 by Joe Crews to support innovative, 15-minute radio programs that combined science, history, and biblical messages, today Amazing Facts is a leader in leveraging the power of media to offer education and inspiration. Led by president/speaker Doug Batchelor, the Sacramento-based organization produces radio, television, and web programming that provides training, lifestyle and health advice, prophecy seminars, and online Bible studies. The organization also operates the Amazing Facts Center of Evangelism (AFCOE), which trains and equips clergy and lay people around the world in all aspects of evangelistic ministry.