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Broadcast service provider cues up flash HPE 3PAR storage

Skyview Networks counts on HPE with 3PAR storage and Synergy compute to support regional sports radio broadcasts for Major League Baseball and other networks.

The average Major League Baseball radio broadcast has roughly 65 minutes of commercial breaks. At each break, the broadcast rights holder -- sometimes a sports franchise, but often a regional sports network -- tailors the content of its advertising to viewers in the local market, such as lawnmowers or outdoor grills.

Orchestrating the timing and content of these network ads is the role of Skyview Networks, a broadcast services provider based in Scottsdale, Ariz. The broadcast services provider relies on Hewlett Packard Enterprise (HPE) 3PAR storage and Synergy composable infrastructure to meet strict service levels.

Radio networks measure uptime in seconds, said Chris Horvat, Skyview Networks' vice president of IT. Horvat said Skyview meets demanding service levels with a combination of 3PAR all-flash storage, fed by HPE Synergy compute resources. HPE 3PAR storage enables Skyview to meet the demanding service levels, he added.

"The 3PAR was a great fit for the services we provide. We're talking millions of dollars a season and hundreds of thousands per second [at stake]. If you talk about Major League Baseball as a whole, the scale of revenue generated [by] every commercial break is just insane. And we're entrusted with making sure that it all works correctly."

Chris Horvat, Skyview Networks' vice president of ITChris Horvat

Skyview Networks started operations in 1995. The company's three main services include a virtualized broadcast uplink, inventory management for ad scheduling and network advertising sales.

In addition to sports broadcasts, Skyview provides broadcast technology, inventory management and content distribution services to ABC Radio and CBS News Radio affiliates across the U.S. Skyview is also the exclusive sales provider for Alpha Media, a large station group based in Portland, Ore.

Horvat said Skyview runs other storage, but HPE storage has been the centerpiece of its operations for the past 12 years, starting with StoreVirtual appliances.

Skyview added two HPE 3PAR storage arrays as part of an HPE infrastructure refresh. Horvat said the 3PAR systems provide an active-active environment, with automated active-passive failover and remote copy for redundancy.

The 3PARs come with redundant controllers and four cages, each populated with 12 SSDs. Data is remotely copied between the HPE 3PAR storage arrays. HPE Cluster Extension Software signals deltas between the consuming systems. VMware vSphere Resource Management handles the virtualization of Skyview's 3PAR storage and broadcast links.

The flash storage plays a key role to accelerate Skyview's web-based inventory management applications, which customers can use to manage and monitor their local broadcast advertising. For a two-minute network break, for example, broadcasters can program the spot with up to 24 five-second commercials, or up to 16 ad spots of varying length.

"We structured our system around the concept five-second chunks, and then clients can expand it to target specific radio stations in specific markets," Horvat said.

To complement the HPE 3PAR storage, Skyview Networks implemented HPE Synergy for compute bursting, enabling new services to be offered to streaming customers. Horvat said Synergy feeds the HPE storage with the horsepower needed to transcode audio feeds into HTTP live streams used by various sports franchises, such as game highlights, interviews or wrap-ups.

He said Skyview chose Synergy "because of the composable compute and its compatibility with our VMware environment. The overall vision we wanted was [to have] a relatively small form factor for a lot of audio transcoding. Once we saw the benefits, we naturally expanded into the other areas with our virtualizing our broadcast uplink."

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