By Adam Goldberg, Chief Engineer, Broadcast and Media Operations, College of the Arts, Montclair State University
In 2015, Sony Electronics and Montclair State University (MSU) in New Jersey entered into a strategic alliance giving the school’s students, faculty and staff access to the same state-of-the-art Sony professional technology used by the world’s leading broadcasters – often meeting or exceeding the equipment standards students would encounter on-the-job. From switchers, servers and storage to projectors, displays and studio and PTZ cameras, MSU employs Sony’s solutions across our campus.
One way that we stay ahead of the curve and preserve our most important media is through our adoption of Sony’s Optical Disc Archive (ODA), which is critical to our long-term archival storage. We use Sony’s ODS-L30M PetaSite, a scalable 30-slot master library unit to archive, safeguard and easily recall the university’s most visible live events, including graduation ceremonies, presidential addresses, theater performances and concerts.
We chose Sony’s ODA for our long-term archival storage because it is a touchless media, meaning the only thing that touches the disc during the Write/Read process is a laser light. Other archival options use a physical tape that touches drums and rollers and heads. This translates to less wear and tear and a longer shelf life.
Another reason why we chose the ODA system is because of its backwards compatibility. If we opt to buy a next-generation system, I can take my Generation Two cartridges and the system will read off of them. I don’t have to worry about making sure that I am transferring my old media onto new media to stay current, and the readers and writers are also compatible. That translates to a long-term savings for us.
In terms of workflow, we archive large scale events and performances that represent the university. Once an event takes place, we can send the RAW files to the ingest folder. Using Storage DNA as our accompanying manager for ODA, those files get sent to a folder where Storage DNA will pick them up. We metadata tag the files for easy search, and then they get sent to a cartridge into ODA.
Prior to our adoption of ODA, we were mainly using external hard drives. Using Sony’s solution is easier, faster and gives us peace of mind. I don’t have to worry about a hard drive sitting on the shelf for years and then plugging it in and hoping it works. Additionally, hard drives are often not labeled and in order to understand what is on the drive you have to plug it in and check. With ODA and Storage DNA, I can simply search the metadata tags for the content I’m looking for and it will tell me exactly what cartridge it’s on. This allows me to easily tell the system to grab a specific cartridge and export its contents from that folder back to our hard drive system, so that I can locate it and do what I want with the file. Previously, we were digging through hard drives or losing track of tapes and information due to personnel changes. With ODA, I know that everything that is important to the university is secure and easily discoverable.
Another benefit of ODA is its scalability. It’s great that we could buy a smaller base unit with the understanding that in the future, we can just add in more bays and more drives to expand and grow the system, which keeps everything cost-effective. Between the purchase of the system, the cartridge and the backwards compatibility, we are confident that we can continue to use the system for years to come and have it grow along with our operations.