Cloud Storage for M&E: Don’t Let the Buzz Sting You

By Chris May, Director of Business Development – Northeast

Considering the changes to the business in media and entertainment, and the technologies associated with managing their digital media supply chain, it’s not surprising to see many of our clients wanting to take a fresh look at their video storage workflows based off the value of assets to an organization.

When the 2011 tsunami in Japan put videotape in short supply, companies were forced to put their media in a digital format on high-performance digital storage platforms, which, in turn, led to substantial investments in production storage. With the advent of new technologies and the cloud, there is now serious attention focused on ways to mitigate the need for expensive, unnecessary hardware and find more efficient and less costly ways of managing video.

Clearly, the market is full of storage options that promise to be everything to everyone but these promises do not take into account the value of content to your company. For example, content that’s in use or that needs to be instantly accessible by your teams can be kept on high availability production storage; however, one-off media that’s ready for long-term archiving can be migrated to less expensive storage platforms.

While you may be aware of the different storage technologies available, and are probably finding business reasons to use them, it can be tough to understand and stay abreast of the value proposition that each technology offers your business. It’s tempting to want a one-size-fits-all solution – after all, that’s what production storage has been for all these years.

However, using a single storage technology to serve multiple workflows is, to put it simply, no longer best practices.

Here is where our conversation starts – by talking about what your company does and how you do it. Do you create and push content on a daily basis? Does content need to be instantly accessible? If so, keeping media on production storage might be the best solution. Or does your content consist mainly of one-offs or programs to which you have limited rights? If that’s the case, you’ll want to move it to a secondary tier of storage – you don’t need to invest in the kind of easy access production storage offers.

Which solutions are right for you? You’ve probably heard about object storage, SATA and SAS drives, Flash and the cloud. It’s easy to gravitate to the latest buzzword or the industry’s “next big thing,” but that may not be what you really need.

Cloud vendors, in particular, have done a very good job of marketing themselves. Its appeal is understandable. Storage requires significant resources: You need a data center, the power to run and cool it, and IT and broadcast engineers to keep the system up and running. If you work in New York, Los Angeles or London, real estate is at a premium. The idea of having storage off-site, in the cloud, is awfully inviting to corporate officers looking to cut costs.

The cloud is also advertised as costing less than a penny per gigabyte to store media but if you need to push and pull content from the cloud frequently, the cloud gets very expensive, very quickly. Many suffer from sticker shock over the cost of recalling large bit-rate video files from the cloud, and for that reason it is still not truly considered a viable active storage tier.

On the other hand, for situations like disaster recovery, cloud storage is often ideal. When disaster strikes your headquarters, you’ll be grateful for the geographical distance between your primary site and your data center.

Middleware may also be a key part of your solution. Typically, part of an overall media asset management solution, middleware can help you utilize different technologies within your ecosystem. You simply set certain policies, and middleware acts like a traffic cop to trigger different storage workflows based on your data policies. For example, if content is not manipulated in six months on production storage, it’s tiered off automatically to nearline disk storage, tape or the cloud. If content needs to be recalled for production, it’s pulled back into object storage or a less expensive pool of storage behind the production server.

As storage options grow, the question of what’s best for your media-centric business or workflow can seem overwhelming. It’s Chesapeake’s goal to help you discover the technologies that best fit your workflows and how to utilize them as part of your daily operations, as well as in response to your short- and long-term storage needs. We’re here to navigate the maze on the market. Let us help you choose the options that meet your business goals.