The Cultural Heritage & Innovation Center at the École Polytechnique Fédérale de Lausanne (EPFL), also known as the Metamedia Center, was the owner and architect of The Montreux Jazz Digital Project. The project began in 2010 and had two aims:    

  1. Digitize and preserve audiovisual collections and heritages of major importance in Switzerland or all across the world
  2. Enrich and add value to such collections, organizing research and innovation projects with EPFL laboratories, start-ups, and partners

HGST Active ArchiveHGST Active Archive

EPFL partnered with HGST (later Western Digital) to provide the Object storage for the digital media; this comprised a three-rack storage system with a total capacity of approximately 13 Petabytes (PB). The racks were installed in separate locations - two in different data centres at EPFL, and one in the data centre at the Montreux Jazz Festival site.

The separation of the racks provided continuity of service, and data security. The racks were connected by a custom-installed 10GBit fibre network, including a redundant run between EPFL in Lausanne and the site at Montreux, with the cable running for most of its length through Lake Geneva.

I was part of the installation team at EPFL, and the sole installer of the third data rack at Montreux. The on-site element of the project took approximately 3 weeks and was completed successfully two days before the start of the 2016 festival - which was a key requirement because the system was to ingest live digital video signals directly from a feed provided by the Swiss television service.

The Challenge

Each Active Archive rack is shipped pre-built (all 1000Kg of it!) and pre-configured so that it can just be plugged in and switched on.

The challenge was that the EPFL and Montreux data centres had fixed racking already installed and no room for a standalone unit. As a consequence, each Active Archive rack had to be dismantled and the parts reassembled in the dedicated racking! This was a complex and time-consuming process, but it was all completed successfully.

A team of us completed the re-racking (2 units) at EPFL and then I completed the third at Montreux.

All the racks started off together at EPFL so that the initial data set could be loaded and verified before the racks went their separate ways.

Get-in at Montreux was manic because it was a few days before the Jazz Festival opening night and stage crews and instruments etc. were still arriving.

 Loading rack 3 for its journey to MontreuxLoading rack 3 for its journey to Montreux


Get-in at MontreuxGet-in at Montreux - it was crazy!


Rack arrives at data centre
Rack arrives at data centre - all ready to be dismantled and reassembled


Rerack Complete!
Rerack Complete - there's 588 6TB Helium HDDs in there!


All systems GO!
All systems GO!


Only Fans!
Only Fans!


I'm a Star!
I'm a Star!




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