VIAA is dedicated to maintaining audiovisual material in Flanders. The Flemish Institute for Archiving does not only digitize analog material but also stores originally digital material on its servers. This is accomplished in a sustainable way in order to allow future generations to have a look at the past.
Commissioned by the Flemish Government, VIAA shares its image and sound archive via various platforms. Nowadays the focus primarily lies on education, but the goal is to give teachers, scientists and the general public access to the Flemish archive. The accessibility of this material is always done in the agreement with the content partners and with respect for copyrights.
The government experienced the growing need of an archive to digitalize and preserve heritage and media material. In 2012 they decided to assign the user-administrator role of the archive to VIAA and the executive task to final customers, such as museums, cities and local authorities. Through an intensive technical investment, VIAA and Zeticon started with the Mediahaven solution to archive the content of partners. The powerful cooperation between Zeticon and VIAA made it possible to enrich the Mediahaven platform with functionalities, a marvelous scale of operations, robustness and performance. The digital archive went from a tender with only a couple of terabytes to a centrally managed platform, with more than 150 affiliated organizations and a volume of more than 14 petabytes of archived material.
Flemish Institute for Archiving
VIAA disposes of a rich archive of valuable media and audio material, which is stored on multiple systems. The Institute commits itself to the storage and maintenance of audio-visual files in Flanders; analog files become digitalized and all digital material is saved on the Mediahaven platform of Zeticon. This happens in the most sustainable way, so future generations will be able to look back upon earlier events. The digital heritage is made accessible to the public and by order of the Flemish government, they also share their audio-visual files through several platforms for education, culture, media, as well as for the broader public.
In other words, VIAA is the covering organization within Flanders that has the important task to sustain the already available audio-visual material in this area. At this very moment, around 150 organizations have joined the platform. Every connected city, local authority or heritage service has its own access to the platform. This way, the audio-visual archive is made available for schools, via the website on top of the applied cities, towns and services. As a tutor, you can easily look into the archive and use extra material for lessons or exams.
Zeticon as the chosen partner for VIAA
During the selection process, two points were very important: a cost-efficient solution and a future-oriented partnership. Cost-efficiency was decisive at the time because VIAA did not yet have an overview of the final volumes of archive material that would be delivered. It was well known that, on the one hand, there would be different petabytes and, on the other hand, there were very strict budgets under which VIAA had to operate.
The second point was a partnership, because from day one VIAA was aware of an approaching, strong evolution in functional needs that arose from advancing insight. Of course, they wanted to retain the necessary say in the process. As a dynamic Flemish company, Zeticon stood out from the crowd. First and foremost, on a budgetary level, since Zeticon offered a solution based on tapes; the cheapest way in terms of storage to date. No investment was therefore required in expensive HSM (Hierarchical Storage Management) infrastructure because Zeticon could build this functionality into its own software platform.
Everything arose from a collaborative perspective in which Zeticon wanted its solution to grow strongly, on the one hand, and the agile no-nonsense approach of the development team, on the other. There was no unwieldy and tight project management; everything went very agile on both sides. Continuously building on the advancing insight of both parties, the platform was further developed. The core requirement of VIAA was to archive the content of the first affiliated partners, such as the VRT, as steadily as possible. The challenge of being able to archive more than 40 TB of video per day was no easy one, both for the hardware side and for the MediaHaven software side. Thanks to the VIAA project, Zeticon had the opportunity to extend the MediaHaven platform technologically to the highly scalable, high-performance, robust and cost-efficient platform it is today. And last but not least: a solid partnership between the two parties that is still unbreakable.
The possibilities of building on an underlying platform
In addition to a central Mediahaven platform for VIAA, several other organizations have also built their own MediaHaven platform. Both can seamlessly connect and even be integrated.
Why would you want to do this as an end customer? First of all, in order to gain access to the VIAA platform and join in, the audio-visual material has to fall under the category "heritage". Secondly, our customers get access to other possibilities for our MediaHaven solution. It can become clear that the predefined metadata structure and the configuration of the central MediaHaven platform of VIAA do not always offer the best solution. Further, an own MediaHaven environment, in addition to that of the VIAA platform, also offers the possibility of accessing the visual material in its own way via (sub)websites, portals or even other applications.
Teaming up to find the most suitable solution
To find the best fit for its customers, Zeticon works very closely with them and VIAA. As soon as a heritage client has a concrete vision, Zeticon and VIAA work with the client to determine the best way to store, manage, preserve and access the different types of audio-visual material. It takes into account individual needs, the need for long-term preservation, the storage, management and accessibility of heritage material, as well as the available budget and the expected volume of audio-visual material. In this way, the end customer decides for himself how he wants to deal with his archive. Kusterfgoed, for example, has an archive on VIAA, along with its own image database, which is made accessible in the form of a customer-friendly website.
The city of Kortrijk started with its own MediaHaven environment, where a rich variety of digital assets are stored, such as newspapers, (audio-)visual heritage material, etc. This enabled the city of Kortrijk to decide for itself how it wanted to make this information available to the wider public. Among other things, they made their own division for storing, managing and unlocking their digital material. In this way, citizens can quickly and efficiently find more information about their beloved city. Due to the large volume of heritage material and the solution to optimize it cost-efficiently, the challenge to integrate MediaHaven with VIAA for Kortrijk was tackled. In this way, the large volume of original heritage material can be stored at VIAA, but previews and other lower-level files remain stored at a lower resolution on the local MediaHaven platform. This gives you the assurance that you, as a citizen, cannot lose any access to the material. For the city of Kortrijk, this means a serious reduction in costs in terms of digital storage.
Results and future plans
At the moment, Zeticon can proudly look back on an ever-growing platform with more than 150 members. We are also very proud of the fact our platform offers storage and archiving of more than 14 PetaByte of (audio-)visual material, which can be retrieved in a fast and efficient way. VIAA continues to challenge Zeticon on a daily basis, due to its size and growth in volume and number of files, to make the solution even bigger, faster and more cost-efficient. This, of course, benefits all customers on our platform.
All these elements together, combined with the hybridization of storage (cloud, commoditization of object storage, etc.), leave us with a bright future filled with many challenges that we will face together with our regular partner from the very beginning!
Curious about what we can offer your town or city? Does our platform seem to be the right solution to fluently archive and retrieve your media files? Or do you wish extra support to put your vision into practice?
For more information, you can contact us via +32 (0)9 275 31 31 or via firstname.lastname@example.org.
We’re looking forward to teaming up and work towards an efficient future!
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