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Disaster recovery

25 July 2011

One of the most fascinating sessions in the 2011 IT Broadcast Workflow Conference was given by David Roulson of Discovery Communications Europe. He discussed some of the questions you have to ask to determine what level of disaster recovery you need, and how to implement it.
 “Some have it and appreciate it, some have it and wonder why – to which the answer is that your insurance premiums will drop! – some do not have it and wish they did, and some do not have it and cannot see what all the fuss is about,” he said. 
 If you go off air you will not earn any advertising revenue. Perhaps more important, those advertisers, having been let down, may not return, and your audience will have to find content elsewhere, losing you brand loyalty and awareness.
 You also have to consider the content. Current commercials can be quickly replaced, and contemporary productions probably exist in more than one place. But if you have a large legacy of content – as Discovery does – then you could put your legacy at risk.
 Disasters come in a range of sizes, Roulson suggested. If you are locked out of your facility for a few hours but the building is still there, then the chances are that the playout automation will continue and no-one will notice the problem.
 Out for a day or more, the automation will probably carry on but you now need to be able to access it remotely to run daily routines and check on missing content. Recently delivered files and tapes may not be ingested leaving you with red on the playout schedule.
 The longer the situation goes on then the more acute these problems become. How do you QC, version and edit new content? How do you create trailers and promos if your templates are inaccessible. The ultimate disaster is having no building to return to: at least if you have all your content somewhere safe you can set up a new operation quickly. 

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