Marketing Agency Picks Distributed Storage System

Hogarth, a London-based marketing implementation agency, has switched to a new storage solution to improve the way it archives and accesses media-rich files, including those in video, print and digital formats.

Many of these files are data-byte robust, requiring storage at the petabyte level and beyond. That’s because the industry has changed significantly: In the past, video might have been shot for a shorter period of time, it now can be—and is—done continuously for hours, according to Mark Keller, vice president of technology and co-founder of Hogarth.

Ad campaigns are also now high quality. They sometimes require the integration of hundreds or thousands of high-resolution files, which creates even more challenges when it comes to archiving and retrieving files.

“No one factors in the cost of managing the content, of being able to get at it and look at it,” Keller says.

While many of Hogarth’s clients are interested in storing their media-rich assets, quick retrieval of those assets is essential to them. For example, a customer might want to tweak a campaign message to make it more appropriate for a certain region or country.

“We clearly consume a lot of storage because of the type of work we do,” Keller says. “In the last two to three years, we have had a lot of pressure dealing with archiving all these assets.”

Hogarth, which started off with about 14 people in 2008, now has a core team of about 1,500 staffers and an expanded group of about 3,000. About 60 percent of what the company produces is in the greater London area, while another 30 percent is in North America, and the rest is in Asia and other countries, Keller reports.

“Our purpose is to create adverts once the creative process has been done,” he says.

Hogarth has many of its offices in London and New York, but it also has sites in Buenos Aires, Jakarta and Singapore, with approximately 43 studios located globally.

Researching System Speed and Cost

Realizing that it needed a more efficient storage system, the agency spent a lot of time researching various solutions. The company was “a bit adverse” to the idea of tape back-up.

“We looked at the cloud,” Keller says. “It was sort of attractive, but it didn’t provide the speed and price point we were looking for.”

The company then turned to the disk-based distributed system available through Cleversafe. Through its Dispersed Storage Network (dsNET), Cleversafe offered a software storage solution at the petabyte level, which fit Hogarth’s needs. The system also could encrypt, slice and disperse data for archiving on separate storage nodes across multiple geographic sites.

While many of Hogarth’s storage nodes are located in the London area and in New York, the distribution of data enables continued retrieval should a particular server or site go down. The storage system is not available to all of the company’s sites, but the single software platform is available to store post-production work from many locations.

During the day, Hogarth uses a central storage area network that generally houses between 40 to 100 terabytes of data per location. A snapshot of the SAN is taken every night, and the production work is then moved into the protected archive, Keller reports.

Currently, Hogarth is running up to 2.2 petabytes of storage, but it has a total of about 3.5 petabytes available through Cleversafe. The agency is consuming an additional 100 terabytes of storage every month, according to Keller, but it’s not a problem because this solution is scalable.

For that reason, should agency need more storage in the future, the solution is clear. “We’ll have to buy some more,” Keller says.


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