Storage For Post: Quantum Has A View

​Much is made of cloud as a universal panacea for flexible, fast and cost-effective workflows across the industry - but to what extent has post production shifted? Jason Coari, Director, Scale-out Storage Solutions at Quantum walks us through the arguments for and against.

Could you help elucidate the pros and the cons of each of the broad storage categories to help post houses weigh an investment decision:on-prem for online nearline and archive; cloud first; hybrid.

Jason Coari, QuantumAlthough the most capital intensive of the three choices, a tiered storage solution that is fully on-premise can give post houses the strongest blend of performance, accessibility, scalability and aligning storage cost to the value of the media.

With facilities concerned about data privacy or the security of sending media to the cloud, keeping content on-premise is the only option. As unstructured data volumes continue to grow, cloud first is becoming less and less economically feasible. Storage costs are still fairly inexpensive, but the cost of retrieving media remains prohibitive.

Customers can also be challenged with the SLAs on retrieval times associated with the cheaper forms of cloud storage. A significant number of media organisations are therefore adopting hybrid solutions, having on-premise online and nearline storage, perhaps a small tape library for archived content which needs to still be accessed occasionally, and then cloud for deep offline storage.

Quantum’s StorNext file system can provide a global namespace across such a hybrid storage architecture, placing multiple copies of a piece of content into different locations on-premise, as well as in the cloud.

Is the ability to apply AI/ML an increasingly significant benefit to storage in the cloud?
More and more media organisations are considering leveraging AI to accelerate their workflows, or better monetise their valuable content libraries and we see the greatest adoption of AI within the media and entertainment industry.

AI engines can rapidly analyse every frame of content and intelligently recognise words, objects and other meaningful elements. Once recognised, they can automatically generate metadata tags associated with those files, and present that information in easily searchable interfaces. This makes it easier for content creators to get the most of their media libraries.

But the issue is that most of these customers do not want to send all of this data to the cloud to be analysed, which is why Quantum has partnered with Veritone to provide an on-premise appliance-based AI solution called aiWARE for Xcellis that searches for the most appropriate AI engine for the task at hand from the 175 currently available, and then automates the service.

Does the cost of transferring and accessing content to and from the cloud make this option cost inefficient for certain facilities/ applications?
In regards to our media and entertainment customers, we are seeing that for storage capacities of less than 1PB, and where users do not have any specific performance requirements, cloud can be a good option. In these use cases, the networking and storage costs can be lower than having an on-premise solution. Facilities can still leverage the power of StorNext in providing their users a global namespace and use FlexTier, Quantum’s cloud-access feature as a method to store and retrieve this data from the cloud.

Do security concerns still make an on-premise solution the most valid for certain types of work/clients?
Many of our customers' facilities handle valuable content that must be kept on-premise to comply with certain regulations.

These customers therefore purchase large tape libraries (10PB+) to archive their content in a cost-effective manner, and typically leverage our StorNext for its ability to take multiple copies of an asset across a number of separate sites for data protection. Furthermore, having copies of content on tape, which is an offline media, also significantly helps them better manage against the danger of hacking, as offline copies are removed from online cybersecurity threats.

How do you think storage will evolve (everything in the cloud?) in the (near) future?
One thing’s for certain, post production houses today face significant operational challenges. Factors such as having to handle multiple ingest points and types, allied with different formats captured from a range of cameras are all increasing the volume of media that needs to be managed. 

This is driving storage vendors across cloud and on-premise to provide customers with an ability to preserve and access this data cost-effectively. Each storage medium — flash, disk, tape, object and cloud will continue to have unique benefits to offer media organisations, and there will not be a time when one storage medium can provide both the highest performance and lowest cost. 

The key will be for customers to be able to architect a storage solution that can align the value of their media to the appropriate storage medium and allow multiple users to access and collaborate on this data with ease, even in remote locations.

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