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Building a stable IT infrastructure for the Indian films business

by Sudhir on March 11, 2014

Yash Raj Films gains archival capabilities to cater to a growing film catalogue

Company: Yash Raj Films Pvt.Ltd.Industry: Arts, Entertainment & Media
Country: Mumbai, India
Employees: 250
Website: www.yashrajfilms.com

Business need
Yash Raj Films needed a single, scalable solution to store their catalogue film footage in a digital format that would guarantee availability of content and specific footage whenever required by various business touch points.

Solution
The studio deployed an archival solution using a Dell™ EqualLogic storage array to ensure instant access to the studio’s entire film content in various digital formats.

Benefits

  • Entertainment company secures film archive through scalable storage solution
  • Provides protection for entire film catalogue
  • Snapshot feature saves time through restoring specific film footage
  • Open standards work seamlessly with film industry solutions
  • Scales to meet the studio’s growing catalogue

Solutions featured

  • Storage solutions
  • Server

Over the years, YRF has widened its horizon into home entertainment by marketing and distributing DVDs, VCDs and Blu-ray discs around the world. Always a step ahead of the changes taking place in the entertainment industry, YRF has plans to scale up their production output every year and grow their existing catalogue of 55 films.

Archiving films for future generations
With YRF producing between 5 to 8 films per year, the company’s growing archive of films was being stored on a variety of devices including servers, tape drives, and HDDs. With the digitization of content giving the company greater flexibility to expand the distribution of their films and film footage over multiple media platforms, the company needed a solution to archive their catalogue. Dilip Patil, Senior Manager, Digital and Systems, Yash Raj Films Pvt.Ltd., explains, “With the increasing number of digital platforms available through the internet and mobile technology, and growing global interest in the Indian film industry, our films are being distributed and watched more than ever before. To meet this demand we needed a single solution capable of archiving our expanding film catalogue for future audiences.”

YRF considered solutions from HP, Isilon, IBM, and Dell. The studio wanted a dedicated storage solution that would ensure archived films remained highly available, and deliver reliable data protection. “If we lose footage due to hard drive failure or disk corruption, then the entire film project could be lost. This would be an enormous cost to the company and would also detrimentally impact on our distributors and audience. We need to guarantee to our studio that all film and film assets are protected,” says Patil.

With the final film being stored on high-resolution files, all the digital assets of a film can require up to 10-15 terabytes of hard disk space. Following discussions with Dell representatives, the studio reviewed the Dell™ EqualLogic PS6500E virtualized iSCSI storage array with SATA disk drives, to archive their film catalogue. After attending demonstrations and workshops in Mumbai, YRF realized the EqualLogic storage array was the perfect fit for their needs.

Single storage solution improves responsiveness
The studio now has the flexibility to access and use their archived catalogue of films for a range of media projects across platforms such as YouTube, Netflix, and iTunes. With these platforms being accessible to millions of film lovers, having an easily accessible film catalogue that is searchable down to the level of a single frame is critical for ensuring global distribution of YRF. Specific film files are delivered to dedicated workstations where the IT team can package the film or film clip in the appropriate format for upload, thereby ensuring maximum exposure for the entire YRF catalogue.

Technology at work

Services
Dell™ Support ServicesDell ProSupport™ Mission Critical with 4 hour Onsite Response

Hardware
Dell EqualLogic PS6500E Virtualized iSCSI Storage Array

Snapshots enable restoration of specific film footage
Patil explains that the ability to take snapshots and then restore specific data was a critical feature for the company. “A big advantage was the snapshot restoration feature of the Dell EqualLogic SAN where we could restore a single frame that may have been corrupted, rather than having to restore the entire film. That saves us a sizeable amount of time and ensures we experience no delays during the film’s promotion and distribution,” says Patil.

Previously, the studio’s film archive faced a risk of disk corruption. In addition, having no back up or redundancy in place for their server storage added to the risk. “Having fully redundant disk drives was a key feature for us because it means that if one disk drive fails, our films remain protected and all we need to do is replace the faulty disk. This technology ensures that our film catalogue will remain to be enjoyed by our existing fans as well as new audiences,” says Patil.

Scalability meets the needs of the studio’s growing archives
Without a centralized archive, scaling storage meant the team had to predict future storage demands in advance. Purchasing additional physical storage solutions increased their data center footprint and resulted in poor utilization of resources. “We need large volume storage to archive HD films. Being able to scale our current storage solution whenever we need enables us to maintain a unified platform for our film archives. This makes film management easier and and enables us to deliver a high level of service to our media partners who in turn receive quick access to our catalogue,” comments Patil.

Open standards support innovation
YRF received training from Dell and found the simplified administration of the Dell EqualLogic PS6500E storage array easy for any member of the IT team to manage. Ease of management has reduced time spent on archiving from days to hours and has enabled the team to focus on new projects. For example, with Dell storage solutions based open standards; YRF can integrate the storage array with industry software to add metadata tags to their digital assets and make their film catalogue easily searchable in response to specific industry requests. Patil comments, “We now have the ability to integrate the digital asset management software with our Dell EqualLogic storage solution, and this interoperability isn’t available on other solutions. Using our storage array, we can automate the tagging process and eliminate what was a time-consuming manual task. Open standards support continued innovation within our company in the content we can provide to consumers.”

Personalised level of support
With a small number of IT staff dedicated to the entire film studio,the team relies on Dell ProSupport™ with Mission Critical 4 hour Onsite Response service to support their storage solution and keep the studio on schedule. Despite the expanding archive requirements and increasing demands from media partners, YRF has been able to maintain the size of their IT team.

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