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The CIO-level business angle on the latest tech
Are you a fan of old radio and television shows? Do you appreciate the historical value of original news reels of speeches by John F. Kennedy, Richard Nixon and Martin Luther King, Jr.? If you’re tired of the endless drivel on YouTube, then why not listen to or view real history on www.museum.tv?
This fascinating Web site is brought to you by the Museum of Broadcast Communications. The streaming media is made possible by unique storage technology from Cleversafe, Inc. I’ll tell you how it works in just a moment.
Bruce DuMont is the president and founder of the museum. DuMont spent much of his career as a television producer. One day at work he discovered a treasure trove of newsreels and tapes of broadcasts of great historical value. They had been cast aside like old newspapers. DuMont decided to rescue these and other broadcasts and put them in a museum.
Over the years he built up a repository of more than 80,000 hours of radio and television content, mostly in analog form. He wanted to make the content available in a contemporary format, so he started to encode it digital format. At the same time, the Internet was evolving, and it was now possible to stream media content worldwide. DuMont’s dream of making available all of his radio and TV broadcasts to a vast audience looked like a reality.
The museum’s first attempt at streaming the content was a victim of its own success. As more users attempted to use the site, the quality of the streaming deteriorated, resulting in many complaints from users. The museum took the content offline until a solution could be found.
One of the disappointed users happened to be Chris Gladwin, president and CEO of the dispersed storage technology company Cleversafe. Gladwin contacted DuMont and offered a solution that seems to be a perfect fit. (Read my previous article about how Cleversafe technology works.)
Unlike conventional storage that holds the stored content on an array of mechanical disk drives, Cleversafe stores small slices of representations of the data on a dispersed grid called the Dispersed Storage Network (dsNet). When it comes time to retrieve the content – in this case, the radio or television shows – the slices are put back together and presented to the media server faster than data could be read from disk. The result is smooth video delivery streamed broadly over the Internet.
Here’s a quick look at the three main components of a dsNet.
* CS Slicestor (Dispersed Storage server) - This is a device where data slices are stored. A typical configuration would have multiple Slicestors. They can be deployed in a single rack or geographically distributed around the world.
* CS Accesser (Dispersed Storage router) - This component slices, disperses and retrieves data to and from the Slicestors. It holds the “secret sauce” – the algorithm that converts raw data to the representative packets called slices. It has iSCSI or Block interfaces, and can be deployed in redundant configurations.
* CS Manager (Dispersed Storage network manager) - This out-of-band Manager monitors Accessers and Slicestors, and through standard protocols can report into a Network Operations process. It provides dsNet management and reporting.