Why CNBC chose Apple for network storage

Last week, I visited CNBC's headquarters in Englewood Cliffs, N.J. to learn about why the broadcasting network was considering using the recently developed Fibre Channel over Ethernet protocol in order to make more efficient use of its extensive IP network and how the company is preparing its technology infrastructure for the change over to high definition broadcasting. I'll talk about the latter in my next blog.

What surprised me as I was touring the IT infrastructure with CNBC's director of digital production and broadcast technology, Gary Kanofsky, and graphics engineer Rich Tallmadge, was one of the broadcast giant's storage area networks. It was an Apple Xsan - one of the few I've come across in my travels. Most corporations simply don't trust Apple enough -- primarily because their infrastructure is Windows and Unix -- to put it in their data center, much less to use it for primary network storage. But here was an Xsan in an enterprise that has a data center with 600 racks of equipment supporting hundreds of servers and editing stations and more than six television networks, including MSNBC, Bravo and Sci-Fi.

I just have to note that Tallmadge is one of those Apple converts who -- like many of us have experienced at one time or another in our careers -- covertly evangelizes for Steve Jobs, professing the immense usability and effectiveness of Macs over PCs. But while CNBC's graphics design team does mostly use Mac (40 Mac editing stations to be exact), there are a couple of PCs attached to the Xsan, proving that it can indeed support Windows. As you'll see in this clip, there are two Xsans, each with 15TB capacity. The dual SANs replicate data between each other for business continuity.

Another thing to note about CNBC's overall technology management team is its attitude about being on the cutting edge and its willingness to try new things. I was impressed by the sense of community, the competitive drive and the creative environment that was fostered by the leadership.

In this video clip, Tallmadge briefly talks about why he chose Apple for his primary SAN for graphics over better known names in storage like EMC and NetApp, which do play a major role in CNBC's central equipment room for the storage of online and near-line video among other things.


Copyright © 2007 IDG Communications, Inc.

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