Leading Media Company Refreshes Xsan Environment With StorNext

Fairfax Media, a leading Australasian media company, has been rapidly expanding its web and online delivery systems. So when the team realised that its legacy partner, Apple, was changing its approach to media solutions, they needed a change.

System Built around Apple Xsan and Xserve

The legacy system was Apple to the core—Xserve RAID storage, Xsan, and Mac edit stations running Final Cut Pro.

“The system served us well and got us to a production schedule that could sustain production of 300 video clips a week,” says David McMillan, Head of Production. “But we knew we were going to need more. So when Apple announced the end-of-life plans for Xserve and changes to the roadmap for Final Cut Pro, we realised we needed to rethink our approach and look for additional partners with a firm, long-term commitment to supporting video production.”

Looking for a New Partner

Fairfax needed high-performance shared storage for collaborative media workflows, with multiple editors sharing high-resolution content. They wanted a partner experienced in storage and media and entertainment workflows with a strong roadmap and commitment to the market. Scalability was important, as was the ability to take advantage of lower-cost, higher-capacity archive technology. And an open systems approach was critical.

“We really wanted to put ourselves in a position to take advantage of more hardware and software options,” says McMillan. “We no longer wanted to have roadmap decisions of a single supplier put our own plans in jeopardy. In addition, we absolutely had to have a smooth transition.”

Seamless Switchover

After looking at all the options, Fairfax chose an appliance-based Quantum StorNext solution, including StorNext Q-Series high performance disk storage and a StorNext metadata appliance for file sharing and serving as the underlying file system.

“We chose Quantum partly for technical reasons—the products were just what we needed—but also because the Quantum team understands the video production environment like no one else we talked to,” explains McMillan. “We also checked with a lot of Quantum customers in our field and heard only positive comments.”

The installation went smoothly—the entire implementation stage was completed on a four-week time line, and the final roll-out took place over one weekend. “The Quantum team was terrific to work with,” explains Laura Dowd, Account Manager at integrator Computers Now. “They really knew what they were doing and finished the job quickly.”

Productivity Up 40%

The new system is already paying dividends in productivity.

“We’ve increased the number of clips we can publish per week by about 40% with a very small staff increase,” says McMillan.Fairfax has already begun to plan the next phase of its system, taking advantage of StorNext’s flexible, open approach to platform support (the team recently installed its first Adobe editing suites, with plans to expand in the future).

“We really like the idea of adding the StorNext archiving capability, including Quantum’s LTO-based StorNext AEL Archives,” continues McMillan. “That will let us make copies of our content on tape automatically, both to protect it and archive it, but still let us access it quickly for re-use.”