The concept of working from home was trending long before public health issues caused most of us to contribute remotely, but the past year has seen an acceleration no one could have predicted. What those in the media industry quickly learned is that it’s not that easy to take your work home with you.
Connecting with colleagues virtually took some getting used to and—for professional editors, graphics operators, postproduction houses and others—file acceleration, remote management tools and enterprise-grade security integrated into a private or public IP network was at the heart of this success story.
The media industry operates in a high-pressure environment where teams must move masses of content between members as quickly as possible to meet ever-tighter deadlines. The more diffuse your workforce is—the more partners or collaborators that make up your supply chain—the more important speed becomes. Whether team members are sending files back and forth to each other or accessing files from shared cloud or on-premise storage, ensuring that content gets where it needs to go in order to finish projects as quickly as possible is mission critical: especially in today’s global environment.
Speed Improves Productivity
Today’s acceleration technology can move assets at speeds up to 100 times faster than standard methods like FTP. What industry professionals learned is that a robust, scalable network connection improves productivity: despite working from a distance. And as files continue to get bigger—with more content being created in new formats including 4K and 8K—tools with file size limits are not adequate.
As such, services like Dropbox and SharePoint that work well in other industries simply will not support the workflows that film studios, television and OTT providers, or game developers heavily rely on. The power of remote work ultimately lies in its flexibility, and the idea that teams would be limited in what they could send and share simply because of file size almost entirely defeats the purpose.
As soon as the pandemic began, technologies like Signiant’s Media Shuttle SaaS product were embraced for their ability to help users share assets during editing, for example, and streamline the entire production process.
However, media companies, with valuable assets that need protection, also recognized that the speed of file transfers, and a reliable Internet connection of at least 400 Mbps, was not the only hurdle to success. Employing Transport Layer Security (TLS) to secure all transfers is also important to manage usage of the project files. This includes determining who can control and access a particular file or project folder. Indeed, authentication and authorization helped clients feel secure about this new way of remote working and that continues today.
File acceleration technology improves on standard Internet transmission speeds up to 100 fold without the need to compress or split files. For an industry that often needs to work with raw, original files such as high-resolution photos or video footage, being able to transfer uncompressed files without sacrificing speed or reliability is essential. Add in file acceleration that keeps latency to a minimum while taking advantage of all available bandwidth, and remote working can help get projects done.
Solutions that offer storage independence allow organizations to decide whether their files will live in the cloud, on-prem, or across a hybrid storage architecture. But most importantly, those valuable assets must always be under your full control. Because remote team members need access from many different locations at all different times, storage independence becomes a key element of security and control, which can’t be ignored.
However, there are several other mechanisms that make large file acceleration technology so valuable. One, called “checkpoint restart,” protects the workflow from unpredictable interruptions in the middle of a file transfer. This type of redundancy is a very simple yet important aspect of any fault tolerant system. When a file transmission has stopped—due to an Internet connection or perhaps a computer failure—the technology will automatically pick up where it left off when the system is back online, rather than having to start over.
Therefore, the network protection technology allows an operating system or application that crashes or fails for any reason to continue from the “checkpoint” — or the last point successfully backed up — without data loss when it is restarted. While it can be set to initiate automatically in a remote workflow, the technology can also be reinitiated manually if the client device shuts down mid transfer. So, it continuously saves the state of a running application, applying markers at various intervals from which the application can later resume its work if interrupted.
Managing The Flow Of Content
The more distributed your teams and partners are, the more important it is to organize and delegate administrative responsibilities effectively. That’s why, as remote workflows get more complex, distributed teams require an Administrator or Operations Manager closely tied to each project, making sure that access to and the sharing of files runs smoothly and with a deterministic approach.
Because these admins and IT professionals need to manage a workforce that’s spread out across a city, a country, or even the world, intuitive, easy-to-manage, centralized administrative features, accessed via a web-based interface that can be used by the entire disparately located team are fundamental to ensuring that remote teams can do what they need to do without limitations. Features like delegated administration, storage configuration, access control and permissions, reporting, and managing notification settings make it easy to track all the activity surrounding incredibly valuable content. They also make training, onboarding, and getting started far easier for users.
Other important aspects of the network to be aware of include securing a reliable connection to both on-premise and cloud-based storage, where the assets and finished projects are archived. Most media companies have assets stored across distributed content repositories, so managing them all as a cohesive whole is complex.
The Ops Manager then has to supervise all of this from a remote location and make it readily available to the production team at all times, extensively relying on file acceleration to make the workflow fast and easy. It needs to appear as though team members are sitting right next to each other, even though they might be half way around the world. Advanced file transfer technology treats each asset as a locally stored file, making the sharing of content fast and reliable between authorized users.
Easy Access To Remotely Stored Content
For the end user (editor, graphics operator, producer, etc.) the process of locating and retrieving files has to be completely seamless, no matter where they are retrieving that asset from (in the cloud, on premise). Many call it “storage abstraction,” but the value is giving production team members unfettered access to media assets regardless of where or how they are stored.
File Acceleration’s Positive Impact
In any place that content is being exchanged, file acceleration technology can have a positive impact. As the industry continues to deploy remote workflows, making the most of available resources while keeping employees safe, media professionals are upgrading their home Internet (5G and the cloud) connections while parent companies upgrade their networks. Bandwidth is certainly another challenge for remote workers, but 10 GBps connects are now widely available. This connection can be made more useful by using dedicated acceleration software and workflow management tools that allow the team to manage the workflow and gain the most value out of these new investments.
What We’ve Learned
It’s now become clear that the lessons learned during these tough times have made production teams more efficient in the way they get their job done. The industry should be applauded for its resiliency in the face of some of the biggest challenges the industry has ever seen. By turning to enterprise-grade SaaS solutions that include the latest file acceleration technology, media companies are now focused on shoring up their remote workflows, making them more permanent and scalable while ensuring that the content they need to stay competitive keeps flowing.
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