Masstech's Mass Appeal


For the average station employee, finding a misplaced Word document or Excel spreadsheet on a computer is a minor headache requiring some hunting but often, time is not of the essence. The same can't be said of a station's on-air server needs, which are immediate.

With more and more content being stored on videoservers, keeping track of it is a challenge. But new tools from Masstech on display at NAB will help to ensure that a facility can locate and manage content more easily.

MassExpand with MassNAS, a hardware and software platform allows a third-party storage area network (SAN) or network attached storage devices to be used with broadcast automation and server systems. It has more than 1.4 TB of RAID 5 storage on a 1-RU chassis, redundant power supplies and redundant load-share networking.

"This breaks the mold," says Joe French, Masstech vice president of sales and marketing. "Sometimes it takes a while for a broadcaster to see the significance of this technology. But when they do, they quickly realize that they can now build their infrastructure with three cost factors: the videoserver cost per hour, the expanded disk array cost per hour, and the tape archive cost per hour. Properly configured the broadcaster can now add more and end up paying much less."

French says that broadcasters do not want to have to keep buying expensive videoserver storage or store material on old-fashioned videotape and then have to move it back and forth between two systems. A product like MassExpand is designed to help that dilemma. Content needed for playout within 24 hours is on the videoserver, while content to be used in the next seven days or so goes to nearline disk storage (a SAN, NAS or DAS system) and content that isn't to be thrown away goes to a digital tape or DVD archive.

"We say we are 'virtually' expanding the videoserver storage because when the videoserver gets a playlist the physical location of the items on the playlist doesn't matter," says French.

MassStore is a Web-based application creates a "disk farm" concept, where the storage space within the server is expanded in an open array of spinning disk, either SAN, DAS or NAS arrays or tape-based storage. MassProxy allows for the creation of low-resolution copies of content while MassAccess transcodes MPEG-2 files into other MPEG-2 file formats. Finally the company offers MassBrowser, a cuts-only editor for low-resolution files, and MassChannel, a stand-alone video-based server with playout quality as high as 25 Mbps for less than $25,000.

"It is absolutely true that IT-based infrastructure plays a crucial role in today's facilities along with great involvement from the IT staff for the core infrastructure and transport," says French of the changing broadcast infrastructure. "Our company's fundamental engineering philosophy is to adopt open standards, open networking, and open operating systems.

"When you consider that someone in Cleveland can now look at and edit a station's digital media that reside in Spokane over the public Internet just using desktop tools, we have really opened up a whole new world of change."