MARCH 24, 2022

Examining Data Redundancy Solutions to Support Disaster Recovery

A news producer backs up files as part of a disaster recovery workflow.

Whether journalists return to creating stories in the newsroom or continue to adapt to distributed work, disaster recovery remains fundamental to the long-term success of any television news organization.


While it's evident how a disaster can disrupt an organization, the frequency with which such events occur underscores the urgency of addressing them before they happen. For newsrooms, the likelihood of experiencing some sort of failure sooner rather than later demands that news managers develop an effective disaster recovery strategy. Doing so can mean the difference between weathering catastrophic circumstances with seamless—or, at least, nearly seamless—continuation of operations and being forced to limit normal news operations for days or longer while systems are rebuilt.


Even after rebuilding, a disaster can continue to take a toll long into the future. Lost news footage and metadata stored on newsroom servers may never be retrieved, nor will organizations likely be able to restore all the work remote journalists filed from the field.


The first step to protecting a news organization from the harmful effects of a disaster is establishing a workflow that provides automatic redundant  backup of critical news footage. 


Types of Redundant Workflows to Consider


Redundancy of media and metadata can be achieved in a variety of different ways and in different levels. It is important to recognize that a disaster recovery strategy begins long before the ultimate disaster takes place. Prevention is almost always better than cure, so newsrooms need to consider a variety of different strategies which can be deployed to ensure the continuity of operations, even when non-fatal issues arise.


An Avid MediaCentral newsroom environment offers news management several options when it comes to making backups, depending on various factors, like the size of the news organization, a newsroom's configuration, and budget.


For those newsrooms leveraging Avid NEXIS storage, media mirroring ensures that media files aren't stored on one but on multiple disks in the same disk array. In the event the primary disk fails, identical media files are immediately available elsewhere. There's no downtime or break in workflow, meaning reporters, news producers, and others can continue working without interruption.


While mirroring media storage is the most common disaster recovery approach, Avid NEXIS allows news operations to customize strategies based on their budgets and unique needs. For instance, mirroring can be implemented at different levels—from a single redundant disk to full media mirroring across multiple disks and even a full storage engine to eliminate any single point of failure.


Storage is only one element of an effective media production system, of course. Avid’s industry leading MediaCentral | Production Management system—used by the world’s largest media organizations—provides other protection measures to ensure operations continue even when things go wrong. MediaCentral | Production Management servers can be set up as a cluster. In the event of one failing, the system fails over to the backup and users can continue working.


For larger news deployments with multiple MediaCentral | Production Management systems in the same facility, MediaCentral | Sync offers a higher level of redundancy in which media and metadata are replicated across multiple systems. In the event the main system completely fails, journalists can transition to another on-prem system with minimal downtime—measured in hours, not days.


The Role of Redundancy


For redundant storage to be effective in a disaster recovery scenario, it must do far more than simply make copies of data in big clumps of files from primary storage to standard IT storage. That would require a news organization to spend precious time wading through massive lists of files looking for specific media rather than creating news.


In contrast, MediaCentral | Sync is fully integrated into a news operation's environment. Newsrooms can apply permissions and choose the media and metadata that is replicated from one system to another down to the folder level. Having this level of control over the specific data copied enables a newsroom to, for instance, replicate that day's news folders but not the preceding four days' news folders, while at the same time replicating the last week's sports folders—all on another system.


These and other types of storage management decisions can then be automated. For example, depending on how critical media and metadata backup are to a given newsroom, one user may choose to replicate data every 12 hours while another might schedule backup for every three.


The Journey to the Cloud


Both Avid NEXIS and MediaCentral | Sync offer newsroom managers far more flexibility in how they implement and manage redundant storage than they would otherwise have using standard IT storage alternatives and tools.


Going forward, redundant storage of media files on on-prem systems—whether created in the newsroom or filed by a journalist engaged in distributed work—will begin migrating to the cloud to protect against disasters. With theoretically limitless storage, the cloud has an unmistakable appeal for news organizations that generate so much content on a daily basis.


A hybrid of on-prem and cloud storage will meet the needs of most newsrooms for the foreseeable future. Building confidence in cloud solutions will come with experience, hybrid offers a path to that ultimate goal of a fully cloud-hosted production and backup system.

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