Field Report: Object Matrix Storage Saves MTA Assets From Fire

Muslim Television Ahmadiyya International (MTA) broadcasts worship and family viewing in up to eight different languages simultaneously, with studios and audiences spanning the globe. MTA focuses on providing a positive and educational influence for its viewers, covering a variety of topics and genres ranging from society and politics, to cooking and wildlife.

The organisation has been an Object Matrix customer for more than four years, having originally chosen MatrixStore object storage to preserve video assets generated by the process of digitising 40-years of a tape archive. An archive they aimed to share with their global community. MTA installed an initial 120TB of object storage in 2012, and further upgraded in 2014 by adding an additional petabyte of storage while incorporating disaster recovery and business continuity to their digital preservation strategy.

Initially 500TB of that additional petabyte were deployed locally in Morden, a district in the London Borough of Merton, England, just South-Southwest of central London. The remaining 500TB were installed at the business continuity location in Wimbledon. Using MatrixStore replication technology, assets protected in Morden were to be automatically and asynchronously copied to the remote location Wimbledon.

Initially, the MTA backup files were maintained in the same location as the primary storage platform. Fortunately, they were not affected by the fire.

Initially, the MTA backup files were maintained in the same location as the primary storage platform. Fortunately, they were not affected by the fire.

Disaster strikes

When MTA was only a quarter of the way through the digitisation process, disaster struck as a fire raged in one section of the Morden Mosque where the archive tapes were located. The fire quickly spread, and despite the best efforts of over 70 firefighters, the flames destroyed the entire tape archive and came within inches of the server rooms housing the MatrixStore installation.

Naturally, work in the production suites at Morden had to be halted for safety reasons and it was some time before the site itself could be populated again. In the meantime, however MTA needed access to that content so work could continue, and crucially, the broadcaster could continue operations.

Because MTA had implemented a business continuity strategy back in 2014, all of the data in the Morden facility had been successfully replicated to the remote site. Work could at least continue in Wimbledon whilst the damage was assessed and repaired in Morden.

System configuration

The storage solution at MTA International currently consists of:

  • 1.2PB of 10GigE object storage
  • MatrixStore replication
  • DropSpot, an ingest, DAM and search tool
  • API integration with Portal (by Cantemo)
With the new system, content protection files are duplicated and then stored at a remote location.

With the new system, content protection files are duplicated and then stored at a remote location.

The storage platform is split across two separate sites and connected remotely. This means that should another disaster strike either site, media assets can be restored from the other site. This replication feature ensures assets are automatically protected at remote locations and content can be accessed should anything happen to the original, local, version.

DropSpot is a Data Asset Management tool that enables users to tag objects with metadata upon ingestion. This allows the metadata to be extracted at a later date, enabling instantaneous location of content.

The tool includes MXFS, which is a client application that represents a MatrixStore vault as a drive letter on Windows clients or a local volume on Mac or Linux client. This eliminates the need for a third-party application to perform data verifications.

Integration with Cantemo Portal, the broadcaster’s chosen media management solution, means that the system benefits from all the functionality of Portal. Features include; easy search, automated rules and workflows. This helps ensure content is moved to vault at the proper time.

For MTA, the benefits of object storage platforms became obvious as a result of the broadcaster’s studio fire. Because the Object Matrix system can grow regardless of evolving storage technology, the broadcaster is secure in a long-lived solution. Finally, because of MTA’s backup solution, their content is always available, even in the event of local outages.

Nick Pearce-Tomenius, Sales & Marketing Director, Object Matrix.

Nick Pearce-Tomenius, Sales & Marketing Director, Object Matrix.

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