Nemeton TV is a media production company that specialises in premium sports content from Ireland and Scotland for TV and the web. For more than 25 years, Nemeton TV has been producing sports content, including live rugby, soccer, Gaelic football, hurling and shinty, for major broadcast networks, reaching TV sets and device screens.
“Nemeton TV contributes to almost every sporting event that happens in Ireland,” said Irial Mac Murchú, the company’s CEO. “We produce entire events for TV and online streaming but also supply satellite uplinks, create clips and highlights for social media, and archive content.”
Beyond supporting Irish organisations like the GAA (Gaelic Athletic Association) and Irish broadcaster TG4, Nemeton TV produces content and supplies staff and facilities for BBC Scotland, BBC Wales, Sky Sports and other organisations. Nemeton TV also collaborates on a range of non-sporting content that includes factual programming, documentaries, health and entertainment, and helps train the upcoming generation of media production professionals.
From Broadcast to Streaming
Because all of this work is based on data storage, the company recently decided to replace their outdated storage environment with a new, more robust platform that could handle more content and support new types of services. They were looking for a more reliable system that would give editors and other users faster access to content and, because the business was changing, allow greater scalability.
For Nemeton TV, most of the change is due to tremendous growth in demand for streaming services, including from non-traditional clients. For example, more corporate sponsors are now working with Nemeton TV to stream sporting events on their corporate websites. “This is a whole new area of business for us,” Irial said. “For corporate sponsors, we supply a turnkey system, from producing the game through streaming it on their website and distributing clips through social media.”
When the company’s storage infrastructure began to limit its ability to capitalise on new opportunities and keep up with their rate of growth, they knew they would have to move to a more scalable platform. “By 2011, we had a tapeless workflow with a media asset system and LTO archive option, all wrapped up into one environment,” said Fiachna Mac Murchú, technical systems manager at Nemeton TV. “But we came up against limitations of that system and became very frustrated.”
No Second Chances
Meanwhile, maintaining high reliability was critical for their audience. A black screen, even if brief, doesn’t impress viewers or give clients confidence. “When you’re producing live sports, you have to make sure fans can see every moment of action instantly, as it happens,” Irial said. “If you miss something crucial, you will never be forgiven. There are no second chances.”
The Nemeton TV team also wanted to be sure that their storage environment allowed the fast ingest and access to content required for their production and post-production workflows. “We need to rapidly ingest data from a variety of sources and, to produce clips, highlights and other packages within tight deadlines, team members need to retrieve content from long-term storage rapidly,” said Irial.
The team’s earlier positive experience with Apple Xsan storage led them to consider Quantum StorNext, because Xsan is also based on the StorNext file system. An archive project for a large client gave them an opportunity to evaluate StorNext hands-on in a working environment. “One of our sports clients asked us to digitise its match archive from the past 40 years,” said Irial. “After doing some research, we decided to use a Quantum Artico intelligent NAS. As we were ingesting the client’s archived content with that system, we could take a close look at Quantum.”
Artico supports workgroups who need to share active data directly from high-performance disk storage and is powered by StorNext data management policies. It stores and retains data in a tiered storage system that monitors data as it ages and intelligently places it on the most efficient type of storage, at the most appropriate time, including tape libraries and object storage, on-premise or in the cloud.
Users set up policies for data movement based on StorNext and use data migration software to move files from primary storage to less expensive storage while maintaining access to all files. Artico can also scale to store petabytes of data if necessary, starting as a purpose-built standalone NAS share appliance.
“We got familiar with the system and the interface, and we were able to experience the speed and uptime of the platform,” Fiachna said. “From there, we decided to explore a full Quantum StorNext system with an LTO library for our future work.” Eventually, the Nemeton TV team chose Quantum powered by a StorNext scaleout file store. A Quantum Scalar tape library is included so that teams can pull material from older content to create clips, highlights and other compilations.
More Speed, More Agility
Nemeton TV use a Scalar tape library with StorNext so that teams can pull material from older content to create clips and highlights.
The StorNext file store manages data in a similar way to the Artico management. Its scale-out ability means new hardware can be added and configured as the need arises. Tape libraries are considered the most secure, lowest cost form of storage, but their physical nature can be cumbersome to manage, which makes a partly automated file system important to keep the workflow moving.
Fiachna said that since the Quantum system has been installed, the speeds of transfers from disk to LTO tape and back are multiple times faster compared to the old system. Nemeton TV teams now have performance needed to rapidly ingest, access, transcode, output and archive large volumes of high-resolution content.
Apart from day to day work, the greater speed has given them the chance to expand the business. “When we pitch for jobs, we have to feel confident that the storage system can handle the work. In other words, can we scale up as required?” said Irial.
“With the Quantum StorNext platform in place, we can meet our current needs while the scalability and expandability means we can support new types of productions and plan bigger for what we’ll be doing five to 10 years from now. We don’t have the earlier limitations in terms of bidding for new jobs. We can go for very big jobs, knowing our storage environment can deliver the extra throughput.”
Believing that storage is fundamental to everything they do, Nemeton TV is also exploring new types of services that their new robust storage infrastructure can support. “In a few years, there will be such a large amount of sports available online that viewers won’t be able to watch it all,” Irial reflected.
“I see Nemeton TV helping to curate content, choosing the best moments and putting them into bite-sized packages that can be fed to various channels. Every individual will be able to see the best of what’s happening on a given day.”
The company could also help its clients conduct deeper sports analytics and display statistics to viewers along with games. “Viewers want to know how high a player jumped, how fast a ball travelled, and how many points a player has scored,” says Irial. “All that data has to reside in a storage environment and be linked with other multimedia content.” www.quantum.com