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Studio Network Solutions (SNS) specializes in shared storage hardware and software solutions for the media and entertainment industry. Customers range in size from individual freelance engineers to multinational media powerhouses, including the History Channel, BBC, NHL, Johns Hopkins University, Irwin Entertainment and McKinsey.

SNS products can be configured to meet specific workflow requirements for almost any production facility. Their solutions are used to produce everything from books on tape to full-track scoring for major Hollywood films. Products include EVO, SANmp, iSANmp, Ellipse and Ellipse Enterprise, globalSAN iSCSI Initiator, and Xtarget Storage Server.


The Challenge

EVO, the SNS flagship product, is the premier data storage solution for professional audio and video editing workflows. EVO supports demanding video, such as stereoscopic 3D, 2K, and 10-bit uncompressed HD through its Fibre Channel SAN ports. Gary Holladay, CEO at SNS, believed that for EVO to stand apart from the competition, the product needed key performance differentiators. He was looking for a company who could optimize the EVO software components to get the most from the EVO hardware, particularly as it related to the SAN I/O throughput.

Holladay knew optimization was possible, as performance of SNS Ellipse Mac OS X drivers for FC HBAs was considerably better than that of native drivers developed by Apple. In an attempt to optimize project organization -- the selected company would work in parallel with SNS in-house developers to select the best approach – Holladay sought a partner.

Mercury Development was chosen for several reasons, including the staff's high development skill level and competence, the employees' extensive experience in complex non-standard tasks, and the number of Mercury Development staff with advanced degrees in subjects such as theoretical computer science and math. In addition, when Holladay learned about Mercury Development's involvement in the development of the unique, highly-optimized DAW plug-in for high-fidelity, real-time audio transmission and the creation of the cross-platform RasterMapper Solution by ElementLabs, making the final decision was easy.

Eric Newbauer
Studio Network Solutions, Vice President.

“We've been relentless in the development of EVO, but the product wouldn't be where it is today without Mercury Development. One of the great advantages to EVO customers is that we keep adding more value to their storage system long after they buy it. Mercury Development's optimization process made that possible.“


The Solution

Mercury Development spent several weeks performing a detailed analysis of the EVO box, assessing both the software and hardware components of the solution to identify bottlenecks in the I/O processing components and areas for improvement. Quickly discovering that the tuning potential and conventional optimization approaches were exhausted, Mercury Development thought outside-the-box and proposed a revolutionary approach. The company suggested reduction of the latencies for read and write operations by using a predictive heuristic analysis of the properties of the I/O traffic typical for the video and audio editing workflows. The unique solution involved algorithmic modifications only, without replacing the EVO hardware components with more powerful ones.

The advanced caching algorithms enabled EVO to handle more video streams per array than most shared storage systems. As a result, users could do more work with fewer disks, resulting in a less expensive, more reliable, energy-conscious storage solution.

Eric Newbauer
Studio Network Solutions, Vice President.

“Our customers' eyes are lighting up when they realize how we've implemented these new features. EVO is making an extremely big splash.”


The Results

By implementing Mercury Development's heuristic algorithms, EVO performance was considerably improved. SNS achieved record values for the I/O throughput and latencies for the used hardware components. As a result, SNS recognized a sales increase in the product.

Mercury Development's involvement in EVO continues to deliver results. SNS recently debuted EVO version 4 at the 2012 National Association of Broadcasters (NAB) annual convention to considerable success. Though more than one year has passed since the EVO optimization process, the changes implemented by Mercury Development established the foundation for a new level of growth for SNS.

Mercury Development's ability to efficiently implement the optimization process has led to a significant improvement in the value of EVO. SNS customers are now getting more value from the product while Mercury Development has once again proven its worth as a critical partner in any software consultation and enhancement project.

Eric Newbauer
Studio Network Solutions, Vice President.

“Mercury Development's involvement in EVO's evolution has made a huge difference for us. We're reaching new customers and markets and revolutionizing the industry. I couldn't ask for more.”