IBM Brings Business to NAB


International Business Machines Inc. is literally getting down to business when it comes to digital media storage systems.

At the National Association of Broadcasters gathering in Las Vegas this week, the computer and storage system giant will unveil its new system, which ties its existing digital-media storage technology together with its cost-management and business systems — not only how to store the data, but how to advertise and sell it.

IBM has aimed the products at media companies, including cable networks trying to manage their valuable content properties in a digital era.

Factory output

It is the latest addition for IBM's Digital Media Factory division, set up last year to offer standards-based technology and services for media companies wanting to get a handle on their new-media content properties.

The first step was to create the actual content storage capability. Now, it's time to add in the back-office accounting systems.

"In the same way that the content infrastructure hasn't been integrated, it's the same way with the business systems," said IBM media and entertainment vice president Steve Canepa.

The business-systems piece centers on consolidating costs to run a digital-media management system and maximizing the revenue from the content. That includes bringing together many back-office systems that are often handled separately, including financial and accounting management, intellectual-property oversight and advertising sales.

Meanwhile, IBM also is also building on its content-storage products, offering a new system that can archive digital video stored in various forms under a single, company-wide framework.

Up to now, video production has set aside separate silos to take in, edit, archive and output video data in various formats. In contrast, IBM's new Digital Media Center has created an overarching system that can tie them all together.

The concept, called a general parallel file system, allows users to draw content from anywhere in the network, rather than having to pool all data and resources in one place.

"We think we can help them to create an integrated structure," Canepa said. "By doing so, we give them an infrastructure that can respond to the competitive nature of the market."

Bif flies here

The system can handle single files as large as 14 terabytes, and it can transfer those files at 12 gigabits per second across the network. The system is able to provide as many as 512 storage nodes to squirrel away various content files and has an aggregate capacity of 500 terabytes.

"This brings an order of magnitude performance that hasn't been heard of," Canepa said. "What this does is gives us the capability to have online storage, with fast, efficient price performance online storage. It's really we think kind of going to the future of what a broadcast infrastructure or an entertainment infrastructure will look like."