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DVD-RAM Libraries Set the Stage for VOD

Offering the convenience of anytime, anywhere instruction and entertainment, video-on-demand (VOD) is becoming a strategic priority for TV stations as well as cable and satellite operators. looking to generate additional revenue through new programming and advertising opportunities. It also provides businesses with a more efficient alternative to conventional classroom instruction. The flexibility that VOD provides increases the audience size for advertisers and gives operators a potential new revenue stream in the form of monthly service fees for personal TV options. For businesses, VOD provides a cost-effective means of distributing customized learning solutions to employees--regardless of their location or the time of day.

These are just a few of the reasons why DFC Intelligence, publisher of the Digital Broadcast and Programming/Webcast Track research service, is forecasting that revenue from VOD services will generate $526 million in sales by 2005.

Like the big cable companies that are developing their own VOD service to avoid paying an intermediary, smaller station managers are finding that it can be very cost-effective to buy their own servers and mass storage solutions and then negotiate directly with Hollywood studios for programming or technical schools that offer a wide range of training/educational content.

Viewers expect the same high quality with VOD that they have experienced with analog broadcasting. As a result, station managers are carefully evaluating their options when choosing a VOD solution. Videos are very sensitive to network latency and any delay or interruption will cause a loss in quality and content.

Open, Scalable Solutions

The challenge for station management and chief engineers is to optimize the many opportunities that are available while minimizing equipment, software and integration costs. Because of this, they are increasingly selecting scalable solutions that are based on an open architecture. This approach ensures full compatibility with terrestrial, cable, direct broadcast satellite, wireless, teleco and IP industry standards. It also protects the station’s investments in client/server technology, applications and integration with legacy systems. Deploying different proprietary solutions for each application won’t offer this protection. Nor will it ensure interoperability between the existing applications or applications that are added in the future.

Drawing on the experience gained by web server manufacturers, today's video file servers are designed to reliably support multiple users simultaneously accessing the same video. These servers stream videos (play video during download) with full 720x480 resolution, 16.7 million colors and 30fps playback, so even live video can be played back without skipping or jerkiness.

Videos do, however, consume vast amounts of storage that make it impractical to keep video libraries online; and with low-cost bulk storage such as digital tape, access is too slow. To provide virtually unlimited storage capacity, the leading Hollywood content owners are already integrating high-performance DVD-RAM libraries.

DVD libraries can easily sustain the 22 Mbits/sec required for compressed video transfer. With the introduction of fibre channel storage area network (SAN) technology, data rates of 132 Mbits/sec can be sustained. The SAN architecture will allow broadcast engineers to configure systems with multiple devices to access the bus so video data can be run in the foreground at real-time speeds.

Unattended VOD Delivery

DVD-RAM libraries address the unique storage requirements of TV stations, cable companies, satellite operators and businesses while bringing interactive, broadcast-quality video and audio storage within their reach.

Organizations that incorporate a DVD-RAM library with their video-enabled network will find that both the initial cost and the storage costs are comparable to a tape system but the access time as well as the longevity and audio/video quality is substantially better with DVD-RAM. Users have immediate access to any segment of any video for editing or playback without having to wait while a tape rewinds. With disc capacities of 4.7GB (single-sided) and 9.4GB (double-sided), a two-hour, feature-length film can be stored on a single side of a rewritable DVD disc.

In addition, the highly reliable DVD-RAM discs provide more than 100,000 write/rewrite cycles and a data life of more than 30 years. And even with frequent playbacks, the quality of the videos doesn't deteriorate over time as it does with tape.

Once stored on a randomly accessible media, video becomes an interactive media, allowing video to be used in games, catalogs, training, education, and other applications. Even movies can become interactive, allowing viewers to select the camera angle, a plot path and the ending.

Designed to meet expanding storage and content access/delivery requirements, DVD-RAM libraries provide about 1 Terabyte of random access storage per square foot. Configurations

range from 1 to 192 DVD-RAM drives and up to 11,600 double-sided 9.4GB DVD-RAM discs which provide capacities ranging from 2.3TB to more than 109TB.

A DVD library with 3.9TB of data storage can hold the equivalent of 51 hours of D1 video that can be moved onto a RAID cache for playback. With the rewritable libraries, station managers can program and edit digital files in advance which can be queued up and played in sequence. For example, a library configured with 750 9.4GB DVD-RAM discs can be used to yield a total play time of 700 hours of video at a rate of 22.16Mb/sec. This capability enables TV stations and cable operators to use the DVD-RAM library as a full hardware solution for 29 days of nonstop, unattended digital broadcast playback..

The broad media interchangeability that the DVD-RAM drives provide also gives TV stations the option of mixing CD, DVD-Video and DVD-RAM discs within a single library cabinet. As a result, stations can play back DVD-ROM discs directly and can mix program content together with spot advertising on the rewritable DVD-RAM discs. Files can also be migrated from CDs to DVD-RAM for a 14 :1 reduction in media due to the much higher density of the DVD-RAM discs.

While all DVD-RAM libraries offer media interchangeability, only the ASACA TeraCart libraries allow users to configure multiple virtual libraries within a single cabinet. With this flexibility, the TeraCart libraries enable users to provide VOD from a single physical library while keeping business applications such as accounting, spot commercials, and news clip archives separate.

The demand for 24x7 information availability has created a ready market for VOD--a market that promises increased profits to the TV stations, cable and satellite operators that can deliver these services cost-effectively. With its versatility, scalability and exceptionally low storage cost, DVD-RAM technology is positioned to become the storage solution of choice for VOD and a host of other audio/video content delivery applications.

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