Storage-appliance maker DataDirect Networks, backed by new Chinese partner Sobey Digital Technology, is making a big push this year to standardise the mainland's broadcasting market on its storage networking system. The United States-based company expected its Silicon Storage Appliance technology to be widely adopted by the more than 3,200 mainland television stations as part of their move to digital broadcasting. Key to that expansion will be the privately held Sobey Digital, one of the mainland's largest makers of professional multimedia equipment. Its broadcasting systems are installed at more than 130 mainland television stations. Alex Bouzari, executive vice-president at DataDirect Networks, said Silicon Storage Appliances would serve as storage networking infrastructure for Sobey Digital's digital broadcasting systems sold to mainland TV stations. He said: 'Our agreement with Sobey, when combined with our other Chinese distribution agreements, allows us to reach out to a large percentage of the Chinese broadcasting market.' Recent market estimates show that the mainland has 3,240 television broadcast stations, all government-controlled. The Beijing-based China Central Television operates 209 stations. There are 31 provincial TV stations and nearly 3,000 local city stations. At present, competition in the overall mainland data storage market is dominated by information technology vendors IBM, Compaq Computer, and Hewlett-Packard, as well as by storage specialists EMC, Hitachi Data Systems and StorageTek. Sobey Digital president Chen Feng said: 'Silicon Storage Appliances allow us to create easily managed solutions using a SAN [storage area network] appliance that delivers work flow efficiency, cost-effective scalability and the lowest total cost of ownership of any storage network technology available.' The mainland firm is also a large systems integrator for China's video and broadcast sectors, with more than 150 SANs built for large-scale video-editing operations. A SAN provides an enterprise with a high-speed special-purpose network to interconnect different kinds of data storage devices with associated data servers on behalf of a larger network of users. DataDirect expected high demand in the mainland for its enterprise-class S2A 6000 Silicon Storage Appliance, which can directly support up to 512 computer work stations and 180 terabytes of storage, managed by a single system administrator. 'DataDirect is focused on providing high-quality, robust, scalable storage network solutions for broadcast applications that range from newsroom-automation, broadcast-production and broadcast-to-air to post-production, animation and special effects, and content-delivery,' Mr Bouzari said. He noted DataDirect's Silicon Storage Appliances had overcome the many limitations of first-generation storage networks by raising the speed and quality of application-delivery to broadcasting stations. Computing platforms supported by Silicon Storage Appliances include Unix, Linux, Windows NT and Windows 2000 servers. A recent DataDirect high-profile mainland customer was Dayang Technology Development, a large provider of tapeless news production systems. Dayang installed a Silicon Storage Appliance as its storage networking backbone to accelerate program-acquisition, production and live broadcasting for Star TV programs. This set-up allows Dayang to combine editing of news clips and video clips into one procedure, helping it reduce operating costs and increase productivity. Hong Kong-based Star TV, a 24-hour news information channel, has also standardised on Silicon Storage Appliances. The company's digital production and broadcast network facilities can integrate news-receiving systems, satellite signal auto-capturing and recording systems, local news-acquisition systems, news program post-production systems, news script systems and news studio systems in one interlinked environment.