Applied Technology: Marquis Workspace Parking

Any effective disaster recovery solution must encompass multiple actions including automated and reliable replication of important data. Just as important is an easy and rapid path to the recovery of key production media and current stories.

Disaster Recovery and business continuity require planning. It is possible to theorise about potential issues and put a robust strategy in place for many eventualities. However, the critical point of any successful disaster recovery or continuity plan must be how fast can ‘business as normal’ be resumed? To minimise disruption, staff need to be up and running as rapidly as possible.

Archiving the critical edit storage onto tape is a common IT solution. However, as one 24 hour news channel told us: “In a disaster recovery scenario, the only option to get key projects back on-line would be to restore our entire back-up, which would take about two weeks.” By any stretch of the imagination this cannot be called making an agile recovery! From the feedback of other broadcast organisations we talk to, we know this company is not alone.

This is because, in the past, organisations have focused simply on ensuring data is retrievable. The timescale held less importance. However, in today’s fast paced, lean environments that ‘if’ needs to be replaced with ‘when’ as hours, days and weeks lost, impact on revenue, lose clients and ruin hard-earned reputations.

Cause of infrastructure failure is irrelevant

While the thought of fire, theft and floods strike fear into the hearts of most infrastructure managers and have led to mirrored systems – the ultimate disaster recovery strategy - the reality is, that it is usually much more mundane issues, often human errors, which lead to the need for the rapid implementation of a back-up plan. However, again, the cause of the outage is irrelevant if staff cannot be brought back online quickly.

WORKSPACE PARKING creates a backup of workspaces, identifying which projects reference what media and adds these projects to the backup, along with any additional media those
projects require.

With the size of project media files currently in use, the key to minimising disruption to productivity and ensuring the continuity of workflows is an organisation’s ability to restore specific critical projects, or just bins, quickly without restoring the whole edit storage. This means that staff can keep working while the rest of the projects and media is retrieved.

Time- to-recovery is key

For this reason, Marquis Broadcast developed Workspace Parking, a disaster recovery solution for Avid edit storage, designed to get editors back up and running in minutes. Already now in use with major European broadcasters, a standard, open folder structure is used to store the back-up of entire workspaces. This means that individual projects or bins of older versions of projects can be easily identified and restored to any workstation immediately, providing a rapid business continuity solution.

A complete backup of every project is created by using an understanding of the relationship between projects and media. The solution identifies which projects reference the media and adds the project files to the backup, along with any additional media that those projects need (AMA or on other workspaces). No media is duplicated, no matter how many projects use it. A completed backup of selected workspaces is saved on tier 2 storage.

Because the analysis can be set to run regularly, every time new and associated media comes online this is included in the backup. Incremental analysis of the changes to the workspace and each project means automated nightly back-ups can be completed in a fraction of the time of a full backup. Every copy operation whether in or out of the backup is MD5 checksum assured. Email status updates are provided as required.

For the first time, Workspace Parking enables Avid users to back-up entire workspaces, while allowing individual projects or bins to be restored, providing a complete, automated and agile disaster recovery system.

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