Agence France-Presse rises to global news media demands

Using IBM storage solutions for optimal flexibility, performance and cost-effectiveness

Published on 07-Nov-2012

"The IBM solution allowed us to expand storage easily, little by little, which was much better than our previous large architecture that was overly complex." - Laurent Cervera, storage and virtualization architect, Agence France-Presse

Customer:
Agence France-Presse

Industry:
Media & Entertainment

Deployment country:
France

Solution:
Storage: Storwize V7000, Storage Consolidation

Overview

Regarded as one of the oldest press agencies in the world, Agence France-Presse (AFP) has delivered in-depth news coverage for more than 175 years. Based in Paris, France, AFP draws from a network of 200 bureaus in 150 countries, providing news on politics, sports, entertainment and other topics. AFP delivers news to clients ranging from TV networks such as BBC and CNN to websites such as Yahoo! and Google.

Business need:
Agence France-Presse (AFP)—needing a new approach to store growing digital media volumes—adopted a strategy based on small storage arrays designed to ensure low cost, high performance and scalability.

Solution:
AFP deployed IBM® Storwize® V7000 storage systems and evaluated IBM Storwize V3700 storage systems. AFP also used IBM System Storage® Easy Tier® and IBM System Storage SAN Volume Controller.

Benefits:
AFP deployed a Storwize V7000 system in one day using one technician in response to video demands during the 2012 Olympic Games. They lowered cost requirements for solid-state disks using System Storage Easy Tier. And enabled the agency to efficiently scale its storage capacity while reducing administration requirements.

Case Study

Regarded as one of the oldest press agencies in the world, Agence France-Presse (AFP) has delivered in-depth news coverage for more than 175 years. Based in Paris, France, AFP draws from a network of 200 bureaus in 150 countries, providing news on politics, sports, entertainment and other topics. AFP delivers news to clients ranging from TV networks such as BBC and CNN to websites such as Yahoo! and Google.

Addressing increasing demands for digital news media
One challenge faced by AFP was the need to respond to growing client demands for digital news media. According to Laurent Cervera, storage and virtualization architect at AFP, “Each day, we produce about 5,000 text dispatches, 2,500 photos and 200 videos, as well as about 100 graphics. During major events, such as the Olympic Games, we can produce as many as 10,000 photos and 200 videos.” Not only is it challenging for AFP to handle the exponential data growth, but it also can be difficult to ensure high performance of agency storage resources while keeping up with client demands. Reliably delivering news media to clients with minimal interruption is critical to AFP’s business.

AFP needed to take a new approach to its storage strategy, increasing its focus on growing client needs for media. Instead of relying on its existing storage area network (SAN) infrastructure—made up of monolithic high-end and midrange storage arrays that were difficult to manage and scale—AFP decided that using smaller storage arrays with better management capabilities could improve storage flexibility and cost-effectiveness, and also satisfy storage performance requirements driven by client demands. Cervera says, “With this configuration, we can dedicate a small array to a large volume of photos and videos, and another small array to indexes and databases. This configuration can help us to achieve high performance while significantly reducing our storage costs.”

Approaching storage from a different angle
After consulting with IBM and carefully considering its options, the agency implemented IBM Storwize V7000 systems. According to Vincent Louvel, manager of storage, virtualization and backup facilities at AFP, “We needed a system capable of storing our multimedia data so we could bring richer content to our customers. We selected Storwize V7000 arrays because they offered great performance and excellent data compression.” Ideal for smaller arrays, the Storwize V7000 also enabled easier management with reduced administration. Regarding the systems’ simplified management and scalability, Cervera says, “The IBM solution allowed us to expand storage easily, little by little, which was much better than our previous large architecture that was overly complex.”

After AFP deployed nine Storwize V7000 arrays, IBM offered the agency the chance to evaluate the new IBM Storwize V3700 systems as part of a beta-testing program. AFP took advantage of this opportunity and quickly recognized that the Storwize V3700 could provide impressive benefits for management, flexibility and efficiency in a smaller footprint.

Currently, AFP is using several features on its Storwize V7000 systems. Thin provisioning enables AFP to purchase capacity as needed—thereby reducing disk costs. Nondisruptive migration helps AFP to migrate data between storage arrays without interrupting data access. AFP also leverages IBM System Storage Easy Tier technology on the Storwize V7000 to optimize its deployment of solid-state drives (SSDs) and to further reduce disk costs.

The agency uses IBM SAN Volume Controller on its Storwize V7000 and Storwize V3700 systems to perform mirroring, creating a redundant storage architecture. This helps AFP ensure reliability to meet client demands without interruption.

Providing cost-effective flexibility and scalability
After deploying Storwize V7000 arrays, AFP realized several benefits impacting the agency and its clients. The systems’ scalability helped AFP to easily expand storage capacity according to its fluctuating client needs. For example, AFP added a storage array to accommodate the increased client demands for videos during the 2012 Olympic Games—an expansion that required only one day of installation by a single technician. Regarding the user interface behind the simplified installation and management, Louvel says, “We really like the Storwize graphical interface. It is very modern and user-friendly.”

The high density of the Storwize V7000 disks enabled AFP to reduce both its storage footprint and its disk costs. The system also demonstrated impressive flexibility, with multiple small arrays proving to be ideal for the agency’s grid-computing approach.

Future deployment of the Storwize V3700 systems at AFP’s remote offices will help the agency achieve its storage goals on another level, enabling consolidation and sharing of more data with an adaptable, low-cost, high-performance storage platform. The Storwize V3700 provides AFP with advanced software capabilities usually found in more expensive storage systems, giving the agency the flexibility to provide media storage for specific data types or for certain geographic regions. “With the Storwize V3700, we have the disk density and flexibility that will enable our storage capacity to evolve,” says Louvel.

The ease of installation and use provided by the Storwize V3700 has demonstrated a management advantage for AFP. The Storwize V3700 includes an interface similar to the one found with SAN Volume Controller, which the IT staff was already familiar with. “Everything is graphical and clear. You don't need to study for five years to manage your storage,” says Cervera.

Continuing to stay ahead of global media demands
Having now formed a strong partnership, AFP plans to continue working with IBM to meet the evolving storage needs of the agency and its clients. In Storwize systems, AFP has found the right set of capabilities to help it stay ahead of the digital news media curve and deliver rich content in a demanding global environment.

For more information
Contact your IBM representative or IBM Business Partner, or visit us at: ibm.com/storage

For more information about Agence France-Presse, visit: afp.com/en

Products and services used

IBM products and services that were used in this case study.

Hardware:
Storage: Storwize V3700, Storage: Storwize V7000

Software:
System Storage SAN Volume Controller

Legal Information

© Copyright IBM Corporation 2012 IBM Corporation Systems and Technology Group Route 100 Somers, NY 10589 Produced in the United States of America November 2012 IBM, the IBM logo, ibm.com, System Storage, Storwize, and Easy Tier are trademarks or registered trademarks of International Business Machines Corporation registered in many jurisdictions worldwide. Other product and service names might be trademarks of IBM or other companies. A current list of IBM trademarks is available on the Web at “Copyright and trademark information” at www.ibm.com/legal/copytrade.shtml This document is current as of the initial date of publication and may be changed by IBM at any time. Not all offerings are available in every country in which IBM operates. The client examples cited are presented for illustrative purposes only. Actual performance results may vary depending on specific configurations and operating conditions. It is the user’s responsibility to evaluate and verify the operation of any other products or programs with IBM products and programs. THE INFORMATION IN THIS DOCUMENT IS PROVIDED “AS IS” WITHOUT ANY WARRANTY, EXPRESS OR IMPLIED, INCLUDING WITHOUT ANY WARRANTIES OF MERCHANTABILITY, FITNESS FOR A PARTICULAR PURPOSE AND ANY WARRANTY OR CONDITION OF NON-INFRINGEMENT. IBM products are warranted according to the terms and conditions of the agreements under which they are provided.