NBC on Feb. 10 in Turin, Italy, begins a stretch of broadcasting that should provide a record 418 hours of in-depth coverage of the 2006 Winter Olympics over the next 16 days.
In order to pull off the Herculean task, the network will lean heavily on Isilon Systems clustered storage technology to help handle the massive influx and accessibility of data.
NBC Universal, based in Universal City, Calif., through its networks, NBC, USA, MSNBC, CNBC and NBC HD, will test the boundaries of the latest HD (high-definition) technology as it delivers content from 15 Winter Games sporting events to homes and Internet-based users.
NBC will store a majority of that content on Isilons IQ 3000 storage cluster. Each node on the Isilon IQ 3000 storage cluster is 3 terabytes, and NBC is using five nodes interconnected together for more than 15TB.
The product features a single file system and single network drive and is interconnected on the back end via InfiniBand.
On the front side of the network, the Isilon IQ 3000s nodes connect into a standard Gigabit Ethernet switch interface and access standard protocols such as FIPS (Federal Information Processing Standard) for Windows and NFS (Network File System) for Linux, UNIX and Mac, said Brett Goodwin, vice president of marketing and business development for Seattle-based Isilon.
NBC holds exclusive rights to carry the Olympic Summer and Winter Games through 2012. In the short time since the 2004 Olympic Summer Games in Athens, Greece, advances in technology have meant that the network provider will be facing an explosion in the number of file sizes, resolution, formats and distribution points it must satisfy for viewers around the world.
Every minute of NBCs broadcast will be encoded digitally and stored on the Isilon IQ 3000 box.
NBCs network producers, editors and broadcast engineers can connect to the system via the Web and go in and search and rapidly review each piece of footage—ranging from sporting events to prerecorded interviews to histories and biographies of the participating 2,500 athletes from 85 different countries—available to plug into any waiting feed point from any venue.
Isilons storage cluster is being integrated with media asset management software from Blue Order, in Kaiserslautern, Germany.
The asset management technology, which sits in front of storage, will be used to rapidly find segments and allow NBC to make split-second decisions on how to interspace its wide range of background color and interviews without touching a tape—only a digital edit is required to have the data staged and sent off to any one of the six networks in whatever format is necessary, Goodwin said.
To help protect NBCs data from potential outages, the Isilon IQ 3000 is equipped with the companys FlexProtect solution. By taking advantage of dense SATA (serial ATA) II, the failsafe component allows the hardware to withstand the loss of multiple disks or multiple nodes without any interruption of data.