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A 20-20 view on 2021

Jon Morgan, CEO of Object Matrix, takes a look at what 2021 will have in store for the media tech industry.

Where it comes to the media industry and its outlook in 2021 in the context of data storage there are two general schools of thought: the pessimistic one is that without a widespread conclusive end of the pandemic, the slow-down it has caused will continue deep into the year, stifling production and investment. The more optimistic outlook sees a massive unleashing of pent-up demand for new broadcast material, creating a tsunami of demand for post production and the technology that will support that.

But stepping aside from the general industry levels of production, what is for sure is that during the pandemic new technologies have been worked upon and have, or will, come to market. So, I fully expect a few surprises in 2021 and a lot of product releases.

I also expect the following five general trends:

  1. The new 2019 is 2021.

Speaking to production and post production customers we expect the general industry to be back to operating at 2019 levels. Thoughts of a tsunami of production are over-optimistic but there will be some pent-up demand and projects in the pipework. This will result in some refresh of on-prem kit, in some workflows going to Cloud and most workflows requiring a little bit of on-prem and Cloud. 

  1. 5G is coming

Not 5G phones, but 5G production. 5G can be used to create private networks as well as being used on public networks and such it is a brilliant way of connecting up production infrastructure (mics, cameras, storage) on an ultra-fast wireless communications network. This has wide ranging implications, including wireless offices, stadiums streaming wireless IP packet-based content to thousands of phones and potentially collecting content at the same time. 2021 will see the first 5G-based production tech come to market.

  1. Cloud. A coming of age.

We all know there is a general trend towards storage in the Cloud, post production in the Cloud and media archiving in the Cloud, but for me the real sign that Cloud has come of age for storage is that it is no longer a one-trick pony. Certainly, Amazon S3 is the big player in the room, but there are now genuine alternatives that offer an industry focused solution set. For media storage Object Matrix is of course one, but also Backblaze, Microsoft Azure with their Avid links, and Dropbox, to name but a few of the others. Competition is good, and specialisation allows for interfaces that can cut complexity as well as costs.

  1. Unified Deployment Architectures.

Some people talk about on-prem, some people talk about Cloud or even multi-Cloud, and some people talk about hybrid, but what everyone needs is unified storage platforms. The user doesn’t care where the data is so long as it is quickly accessible when they want it and where they want it. Unified deployment architectures are the antipathy of a piecemeal approach and will see far greater prominence once the pandemic “work from home” edict has died down and “work from anywhere (*even from the office!)” takes off.

  1. Analytics: The Key to Good Management

The last prediction for 2021 lies in the area of analytics. As it becomes increasingly difficult to manage disparate work forces and storage systems alike managers will want to take back control in order to make informed decisions. Analytics can pull together clear overviews. In the case of storage, what is being stored where and for how long? How long is data taking to transfer and how much is that holding up production? Is data being kept on the wrong storage tier? Analytics have never been more important than during this time and will only become more of a focus during 2021.

These are my predictions for areas of focus during 2021 where it comes to the realm of storage and media. But as for being 100 per cent sure they will be correct, as 2020 proved, the future can always take some very unexpected turns. What I do know is that after everything that has happened in 2020…

I am very much looking forward to a new and exciting year where innovation can take centre stage once again!