NZ post-production company benefits from Oracle storage solution

With a need to be able to quickly scale up its storage without blowing the budget, Department of Post (DoP) turned to Oracle’s StorageTek SL150.

DoP has nothing to do with mails; it is actually a post-production finishing company.

“We are the last step in the process of production. Production companies from New Zealand and overseas send their shows here and we make the pictures look good,” says co-founder of the small company, James Gardner.

DoP has around three full-time staff, but a whole lot of freelance editors who work with the firm when jobs demand extra hands. By the very nature of its work, DoP requires a strong storage system.

“We archive a whole lot of content internally, since clients have a tendency to come back after years and ask for their work sometimes. We also want to offer archiving as a service for production companies working in New Zealand,” says Gardner.

When they felt the need for a storage solution that did not stretch their budget too much, the company sought the help of Group6 Technologies.

“I am part of Group6 as well. That is a company that used to do systems integration for TV stations and has built most of Auckland’s TV facilities. It brings out a product called Diva, which is a media sharing tool, and allows Avid editors to work on the same project together.

“Most production companies run one of those now and we have started looking at the next step, which is helping the production company archive the content. Since I part-own DoP, I thought this would be an effective way to bring both aims together. DoP was looking for an archive solution and Group6 was looking to onsell their solution as part of an archive tool,” says Gardner.

The needs of both concerns being well understood, Gardner and his team began looking around for the right storage hardware and found the perfect fit in Oracle’s StorageTek SL150.

“We needed a library that could scale from 30 tapes to 150 tapes. It needed to be able to have more than one drive on it. It needed to have a reasonably low TCO, since this is archiving, not just backup, so it would run a job and that would be that. We originally had a single drive unit and someone would have to sit there and change tapes every eight hours. That cost a lot in labour and was difficult to train on.

“We looked at Dell first. Their first off product was a bit expensive and scaling costs you for every 40 tapes. They have a licensing fee. With the Oracle SL150 there was a charge only for the physical chassis and there was no licensing cost per slot. The SL150 works with Backup Exec, which I have worked with before, wanted to work with again, and is a global standard meaning our tapes could be restored somewhere else as well,” Gardner explains on the reasons the company chose the Oracle solution.

Gardner accepts that the company bought the SL150 before full support was available with Backup Exec, and had to wait a month for the update to happen. However, he states this was pretty much the only problem that the firm had with the deployment of the solution, which has been running smoothly and providing business benefits from January this year.

“The biggest benefit is that it is that you can train a relatively inexperienced person on how to use it or how to include a chassis on the solution. Our jobs could range from one TB to up to 30TB of content for a client, and there is a huge benefit that you go away and come back a day later and it is on tape, as opposed to feeding a drive every eight hours. For us that’s a large financial benefit, because ten minutes of my time could result in 30 to 40 hours of chargeable time,” says Gardner.

DoP also gained speeds on the drive provided with the Oracle SL150. By doubling the speed they were used to previously, the solution has enabled the company to do active backups besides archiving.

“We have had another drive put into it recently, giving us access to LTO-6, although to be honest the cost is pretty high at the moment so it is not being used. But there is a drive sitting in there should the cost come down,” adds Gardner.

With all the benefits that he has encountered with the solution, Gardner has ensured that Group6 will have its soon-to-be-launched archive solution on Oracle hardware as well.

“We will most likely continue to invest in IT in 2014. Work has been busy. Our investments will cover both a new edit suite, as well as adding to the current 180TB of WD disks that are spinning downstairs,” says Gardner.