Tiered Storage Gives Broadcaster Easy Access To Full Content Archive

BBC Sport calls its rich library of sports content, dating back more than 75 years, its “production archive”, because it needs to be available to all its staff for use at a moment’s notice. It is a vital part of everyday production and critical to leveraging their history and brand.

Bringing it Together

When BBC Sport decided to move to a new digital-based archive in 2014, a competitive tendering process followed, which was won by Quantum partner Trams in collaboration with Media Manor, a specialist in broadcast and production workflows.

In addition to a winning price-performance combination, the solution blended production and archive storage.

“They had set some target performance metrics, and we comfortably met them,” says Warren Peel, Managing Director of Trams. “Our proposed architecture dug deep into their workflow requirements so that we could meet their real needs as a true production library, not a simple archive.”


During the design phase, it became clear that a four-tier solution based on StorNext 5 was most appropriate. StorNext 5 is a complete end-to-end solution providing content production, distribution, and archiving with the performance necessary for live production.

The tier 1 storage is high-performance QD6000 disk, delivering 173TB of usable capacity, where users access content primarily through the asset management system, and where all of the proxy storage is maintained to provide access to the whole of the archive. Transfer between transcoding engines adds to the overall needed bandwidth, so the tier 1 architecture was implemented with a bandwidth of 2.4GB/s.

The tier 2 storage is buffer store of 336TB behind tier 1. StorNext QD6000 disk provides the storage, but with larger capacity and lower speed drives (7200rpm, as opposed to tier 1’s 10,000rpm). To ensure that there are no bottlenecks, the entire system has a data transfer capacity of 6.4GB/s.

Tier 3 is a StorNext AEL6000 Archive with dual robotics and 18 dual-pathed LTO-6 drives, plus two Extended Data Life Management (EDLM) drives which continuously inspect media to ensure data integrity. In the archive, all files are stored on two separate tapes for resilience, and the system is designed to expand its effective capacity to over 10 petabytes by integrating the next-generation, LTO-7 drives.

Whenever content is written into the archive, a third copy is made on tape, which is ejected from the device. This off-site, vaulted data forms the tier 4 storage.


“The result is a system with a lot of horsepower,” explains Declan Wood, Managing Director of Media Manor. “Content on disk is delivered really very quickly indeed, and internally we can build and unbuild the disks swiftly and securely because everything is secured and duplicated on tape.”

The system went live in January 2015, and is in constant use. “BBC Sport went from its mix of systems to a unified environment with a guaranteed performance and a single point of administration,” Wood says.

“The system works well, and requires zero touch for support,” he concludes. “From the reseller point of view, and I am sure from an end user point of view, too, that is a very good thing. We demonstrated through our system design that the Quantum solution was the most appropriate technical solution, and so it has been proved in practice.”