​Post Production Storage: Facilis 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? Jim McKenna, VP, sales and marketing at Facilis runs through the pros and cons of on-prem versus cloud storage.

Could you help elucidate the pros and the cons of each of the broad storage categories to help post houses weigh an investment decision:

Firstly: on-prem for online nearline and archive

Jim McKenna, Facilis: Status quo for the industry is completely on-prem with all tiers of storage hierarchy, but to some extent that is changing. The pro’s of this are that it’s fast, autonomous, compatible with the workflow and secure. The cons are that it’s expensive, carries the risk of obsolescence, needs maintenance, and you risk the potential loss of access.

Cloud first:

Remote editors and field producers are the largest group of creative people using cloud as primary storage, and in the grand story there aren’t that many of those. Cloud primary has extreme limitations for almost any workflow; access speed can be inconsistent or generally slow, and it has inherent security risks, an inconsistent cost structure and a local cache requirement. On the plus side, it is globally accessible, has a lower capital expense, and can be good for business continuity.

Hybrid:

A large percentage of facilities in the content creation field have some sort of cloud assets in use on their internal projects. This could be Adobe CC Stock, Google photos, or an owned repository of common elements and images. When combined with on-prem primary storage, cloud assets and DR archive complete the data resiliency story. A hybrid system therefore combines all the plus points – and the negatives - of the two.

Is the ability to apply AI/ML to auto-metatag an increasingly significant benefit to storage in the cloud?

These developments are an asset to all workflows, but will not be acceptable to some. Many on-prem Asset Management systems can export proxies to cloud storage to gather additional metadata, applying these tags to high-res media maintained on on-prem primary storage. Security is an issue with programming under strict anti-piracy control.

Does the cost of transferring and accessing content to and from the cloud make this option cost inefficient for certain facilities/ applications?

Ideally the cost is mitigated by the nature of the process being almost completely upload-based. Active media still resides on-prem, with only the metadata being downloaded to apply to the active assets.

Do you have a media management solution that makes hybrid workflows more efficient?

Facilis has FastTracker, an asset tracking application that can index on-prem and cloud-based assets when made available to the server as a filesystem (WebDAV or similar). In this way users can search for assets that exist on cloud locations, as well as on-prem storage. Upon finding the asset needed in a cloud location, the asset can be dragged to an active high-speed partition and made available to the editorial staff.

Do security concerns still make an on-premise solution the most valid for certain types of work/clients?

Certainly any facility that follows some of the more aggressive guidelines for security and isolation of assets will have a hard time using cloud storage for anything, as internet access in general is very limited on creative workstations or anyone with access to secure content. These guidelines are common in many major international markets, and a facility’s ability to bid on a job is often tied to their adoption of these best practices. Even if security is not a major concern, the speed of ingest, edit and finishing is always superior with an on-prem solution.

How do you think storage will evolve (everything in the cloud?) in the (near) future?

A lot of promising technology has gone the way of the flying car in the past decades. I believe cloud storage is a technology that will find its place across most facilities as a repository for small elements, DR backup (best case: upload only), and review & approval medium. In these areas there is little that can compare to cloud for accessibility, reliability, and cost. On-prem storage will continue to be the workflow tool of choice for facilities that require autonomy, security and speed to the creative desktops. Like the flying car, there’s too much infrastructure supporting the current technology, and too little of the infrastructure necessary to support the new.

Let us know what you think…

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