IBM And Porthus Sign Four Year Contract With Flemish Radio And Television (VRT)

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Brussels/Amsterdam - 09 Sep 2005: IBM and Porthus, specialist in "business to business" integration, announced today they have signed a framework contract with the Vlaamse Radio & Televisie (VRT) (Flemish Radio and Television) for four years. As part of this agreement, IBM will supply a storage solution which, when combined with ARDOME, an application suite from the Swedish software company Ardendo, will form the heart of the Digital Media Factory (DMF) of the VRT. The ensemble can be simply integrated into the existing infrastructure and is open to future audiovisual and IT technology. The combination of the storage solution and the application suite can provide each member of staff of the VRT with the possibility of calling up and processing up to 200 terabytes of media material via their work stations - more than 8000 hours or 333 days of non-stop video. For the VRT this is a first step towards providing its staff with a centrally integrated range of media material.
Digital Media Factory
For several years now the VRT, in partnership with the 'Instituut voor de aanmoediging van innovatie door Wetenschap & Technologie in Vlaanderen' (IWT) (Institute for the Encouragement of Innovation through Science and Technology in Flanders) and the 'Interdisciplinair instituut voor BreedBand Technologie' (IBBT) (Interdisciplinary Institute for Broadband Technology), has been carrying out ground-breaking research into the possibilities of integrating IT storage solutions into a media landscape. There was a need to obtain a centrally managed platform whereby everyone could gain secure access, from their work stations, to the available media material (audio, video, text, graphs, etc.). The material can then be processed from their computers and eventually be made ready for broadcasting. The use of tapes as media material often bound the station to special and expensive storage solutions from the audio-visual industry.

All the media material that the VRT collects is of essential importance. It is the heritage of the VRT and it should under no circumstances go astray. It is split up into three classifications: broadcast critical, company critical and standard critical. Each grade has its own IT infrastructure. The station was looking for a manageable, scaleable and optimal functioning storage solution with high availability that could fit into this specific architecture. It had to be possible to integrate the solution into the existing infrastructure, it had to be accessible to everyone and be open to future audiovisual technology.

Piet Van Petegem, VRT's ICT director: "By using the audiovisual and IT technology we can work faster, cheaper and more efficiently with the material available. Thanks to Porthus and IBM the VRT will have a central platform where the VRT staff can find an integrated range of media material. This platform also forms a basis for making media material available at a later stage to other players in the Flemish audiovisual sector."

Platform-independent solutions
Thanks to Porthus, an IBBT partner, the VRT was able to discover IBM's General Parallel File System (GPFS) technology. The GPFS is a very powerful shared-disk file system whereby all junctions within a homogeneous or heterogeneous server cluster can call up reliable information fast. GPFS enables everyone within a cluster to work at the same time with parallel applications on a set of files or on a single file while offering a high degree of control at the same time.

"Porthus has, as ICT service provider, a broad experience in the storage of large quantities of data and is aware of the need to be able to process these quickly. We recognised the needs of VRT therefore better than anyone else," says Luc Burgelman, CEO of Porthus. "After analysing IBM's GPFS technology it became apparent that this technology was exceptionally well suited for media applications and we proposed this solution to the VRT."

This solution was the immediate preferred choice of the VRT. GPFS is not just an extremely reliable system, but it has also been specially configured for the world of media and high performance computing. The fact that this scaleable technology, thanks to its open standards, is independent of the underlying hardware is yet another asset.

"This agreement with VRT demonstrates IBM's expertise in providing total solutions for media environments," states Christophe Delbeke, Account Manager at IBM. "With its extensive knowledge of the methodology and architecture of digital media IBM Business Consulting Services has played an important role in the creation of this framework. We have tailored our on demand solution to provide a powerful yet flexible environment for the VRT. This IT infrastructure will be able to support the VRT's current and future needs."

The Ardendo's ARDOME suite makes the whole storage solution particularly suitable for the media sector. The Swedish software company is an IBM partner and specialises in complete Media Asset Management solutions for the Broadcasting Industry. All their solutions are platform-independent. Thanks to the ARDOME suite VRT staff will be able to use to call up, process and archive the digital media material.

"The contract with the VRT further adds to our success story in Europe with large broadcasting companies. The ARDOME suite was designed for clients with specific requirements in feature set, availability and scalability" said Erik Åhlin, Vice President Sales and Business Development at Ardendo.

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