Starz "Disaster Relief Center"


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The Starz Disaster Recovery Center under construction
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In the Englewood plant, over 5000 feature films are stored in a Sony PetaSite archiving system robotically loaded with Sony DTF-2 data tapes. But although the new Disaster Recovery Center was budgeted for state-of-the-art operation, involving Pinnacle MediaStream 700 servers controlled by OmniBus Colossus automation, it was also intended to operate with a minimum of human intervention. So in case of an emergency, the phase one operation of the Disaster Recovery Center will have to spring into action unmanned. To make this possible, Mikkelsen's team installed 48 terabytes of online storage from an EMC Corporation CLARiiON CX series disk array. Both sites will have EMC's Avalon Intelligent Data Management mezzanine software to help move content between them.

"When completed, every movie asset we own will live at both the primary uplink facility in Englewood and also in this Disaster Recovery Center," Mikkelsen says. "As the largest provider of pay TV movie services in this country, we are actually creating a miniature version of this whole organization packed into 12 racks of equipment."

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The Center was budgeted for state-of-the-art operation, involving Pinnacle MediaStream 700 servers controlled by OmniBus Colossus automation
click on image for a better view
Internally, the Starz IT group has created PALS, the "Program Acquisition and Licensing System", to keep track of all aspects of their stored feature films including where they came from, how they were acquired, what movies are in production, and how they did at film festivals. This helps the programming division set schedules for all the Starz channels three months in advance. Eventually, the primary satellite uplink facility will be able to take copies of all of Starz' movie library from near line storage, move them down to the Castle Rock location, and use a mirror of the PALS system to provide three months of operation with potentially minimal need for Starz Encore staff to get involved.

"The Disaster Recovery Center will run a completely duplicate operation to the primary uplink facility," Mikkelsen says, "plus or minus about two minutes. The movie start times will be the same just as they are in the primary site so without requiring human intervention this will be a pretty reliable back-up system."

Ever since John Sie founded the Starz premium movie subscriber service on April 1, 1991, customer satisfaction has been a guiding goal of the company. With this new installation, that satisfaction should keep beaming out uninterrupted. "Our staff in the broadcast operations center will insure the back-up sites readiness, so we will immediately recognize even the slightest discrepancy," Mikkelsen allows. "If something unexpected does happen, thanks to our new Disaster Recovery Center we should be able to insure continuous service for all our customers nationwide."

Source: DMO