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Tennis Channel doubles down on tape to prevent fault during live coverage

For its first year of live broadcasting, Tennis Channel upgrades data protection with Spectra Logic LTO-4 tape libraries for backup, archiving, and disaster recovery.

Data protection became critical for Tennis Channel this year as the cable TV channel broadcast all four Grand Slam events live, including the U.S. Open that began this week.

In anticipation of its first live coverage, the network strengthened the reliability and restore capabilities of data backups as well as archiving and disaster recovery when it built a new broadcast facility last year.

CTO Dean Hadaegh said Tennis Channel replaced smaller older libraries with two Spectra Logic T950s with six LTO-4 drives and 950 activated slots for nearline and backup data. Tennis Channel has 50 TB of capacity on the drives, enough for 946 hours of video. One is at its Culver City, Calif., production facility and the other offsite for DR.

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Hadaegh said the network needed the upgrade because it would broadcast "in real time" this year instead of just recording video to package to air later.

"For this type of live programming, access and the ability to share assets becomes critical," he said. "Besides live programming, we record highlights of plays at various courts, and we need the ability to create assets and turn it around fast. Dynamic access becomes really important."

When Tennis Channel is broadcasting from an event, the data transmitted to its Culver City, Calif., production center goes on Spectra Logic libraries. "We post-produce it, edit it, and air it on the same day," Hadaegh said. "That type of turnaround requires high availability."

Hadaegh said the new setup is faster and more scalable than his previous backup and archive system, and he likes that Spectra Logic lets him partition libraries for different purposes. Tennis Channel also uses Spectra Logic's TeraPack removable cartridges to rotate archive data. The T950 in Culver City has two partitions, one using Symantec Corp.'s BackupExec software to back up Windows servers and share drives, and the other uses BakBone Software Inc.'s NetVault software to back up broadcast data stored on an Apple XSan system.

Hadaegh says the disaster recovery site was set up in case of a failure during broadcast. "We have our all our programming data duplicated at another library across town," he said. "If some disaster happened, he would be able to continue the entire playlist without interruption. We've also used the DR site while doing maintenance, it gives us that type of flexibility."

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