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Open standards approach for video/film archiving & preservation

October 24, 2014

This presentation spelling out the development and basics details of the AXF standard was presented by Front Porch Digital CTO Brian Campanotti. "The scale of data today, with HD, 4K and J2K, is immense," he said. "There are so many different formats in so many workflows that no "one size fits all" works for archiving and preservation. We don't want yet another silo. End-to-end integration and content accessibility are key. And the choices among storage technologies is always changing although it's becoming cheaper. We also have to ensure redundancy and content protection so no assets are lost.""Complex media assets must be stored as 'Objects' not as files," he added. Another challenge is integrating media storage and preservation into existing systems and workflows. "It's a complex challenge," he summarized.

Up until now, proprietary systems and formats have been rampant in the  archiving and preservation space. "The ideal storage and preservation solution isn't locked-in to a single vendor or technology," he said. "We want limitless scale, support for media spanning and a highly resilient format with long-term accessibility. Another key is to design something that's storage technology agnostic, not just data tape, and offers metadata encapsulation, asset updating and versioning support as well as transportation capabilities."

The Tape ARchive (TAR) format has been around for many decades, but use of TAR is ebbing. LTFS, the near-tape file system invented by IBM, is a file system for data tape that makes tapes appear as "removable storage." "But ultimately, LTFS does not meet many of the user requirements we've outlined," he said. He detailed the problems: no metadata encapsulation, no support for spanning, no preservation features and is only applicable to data tape. Furthermore, LTFS relies on simple folder hierarchies to maintain asset relationships and is application-specific in terms of implementation. "LTFS has its place but it doesn't belong as a preservation solution," he said.

Archive eXchange Format (AX) if a universal standard for the wrapping (encapsulation), storage, transport and preservation of any type of file assets. AXF is like an advanced ZIP which encapsulates any number oof files of any type, metadata and a universal file system, which is treated as an object." AXF is IT-centric and applies to all types and generations of storage technologies and is the first open standard targeting this arena. "AXF fully defines and constrains implementations for increased interoperability," he said. "It can also work harmoniously with LTFS, as it can with all other file systems."

AXF is a universal format - it has nothing to do with any model or generation of data tape. "It's applicable to all data tape, Flash media, your mobile phone as it is to large-scale storage," Campanotti said. "We started deploying AXF three years ago on a range of AXF certified technologies. In terms of a use case, we're able to replicate data between our sites, using cloud storage. We have immediate access to our content without re-formatting." They're also working on a media exchange with etc, storing media in a private cloud and using AXF to store and transport data between the private and public clouds. SMPTE recently published the AXF Part 1 Standard (ST 2034-1:2014). More than 25 organizations around the world are using AXF. Visit www.OpenAXF.org for more information.

Tag(s): HD , AXF , 4K , LTFS , 2K

Debra Kaufman

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