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Modern data management: achieving remote production and workflow efficiencies

By Jeff Braunstein, Spectra Logic’s director of Product Management

It is no surprise that today’s global consumers are devouring more digital content than ever before. With trends such as virtual reality, augmented reality, social media, video games, films, broadcast television, live entertainment, video streaming services, and online gaming and sports betting, the media and entertainment (M&E) industry is evolving before our very eyes.

In addition, file sizes are getting bigger and customers are using multiple devices to consume content, including smart TVs, smartphones, tablets, laptops and other digital devices. With a tremendous amount of importance being placed on digital ingestion and user enjoyment, it is vital for organisations looking to monetise their media to develop best-in-class strategies that optimise data ingest, access, collaboration, distribution and preservation. 

Concurrently, there has also been a shift in the way that M&E professionals work. Remote production is on the increase with a greater need for collaboration on a global basis. Remote file availability demands secure, rapid access to media assets. To remain competitive, M&E professionals must find creative solutions to help them manage these assets throughout their lifecycle while balancing costs, performance and availability.  

Addressing the asset management challenge 

The broadcast industry deals primarily with two types of assets: managed and unmanaged.  Managed assets are often organised in groups, such as news, sports, season, events, etc., and placed on the proper tier of storage by policies set by the asset management application. On the other hand, unmanaged assets, such as raw or original content, graphics, still images, etc., are often not supported by the asset management application. These data sets continue to grow exponentially, and take up expensive primary storage capacity that should be dedicated to active assets. Eventually, this storage capacity overload reaches a tipping point, signifying that something must be done from a budgetary and operational standpoint. The answer to the problem can be found in a cost-effective, intelligent tiered storage management solution.

Many M&E professionals are turning to storage management software to provide insight, automation and management for the storing, accessing, sharing and preserving of growing asset repositories. This type of solution is capable of aligning the current value of the assets with the proper storage tier, enabling automatic, recurring transfer of inactive or unmanaged content from the expensive Primary Tier, made up of solid state/enterprise disk and NVMe, to the more affordable Perpetual Tier, consisting of Cloud, object storage, NAS, and/or tape. Organisations can configure the Perpetual Tier to be as responsive as their workflows demand – creating copies on NAS and disaster recovery copies on Cloud or tape. At the same time, users can continue to have familiar access to all assets for as long as required. 

Moreover, a robust storage management software can identify and move whole projects after they are completed. Project-based content, such as dailies, can be copied for immediate protection, and episodic content can be archived immediately after project completion rather than waiting to be archived by asset age. This is the ultimate in enabling automated workflow efficiencies.

Integrating data management software into an M&E environment offers the following benefits: 

  • Automating the identification of inactive content sitting on expensive primary storage and migrating it to a lower cost tier
  • Improving overall efficiencies for better media production workflows
  • Attaining short-term and long-term asset protection and preservation
  • Reducing the overall cost of storing assets by keeping them on a more affordable storage tier 
  • Shrinking backup windows and enhancing workflow performance and effectiveness
Mitigating the rising cost of storage

As the price of data storage continues to rise, the cause can often be tracked to the incorrect retention and management of digital content. Part of the reason for the upsurge in storage costs is a combination of factors: the need for fast data availability; the proliferation of large file servers; the expanding backup capacities that handle copious volumes of production data; the vast inventory tasks, and the shortage of skills. 

Today, M&E professionals have the ability to keep storage costs down and streamline workflows by leveraging superior storage management software that allows them to identify, migrate, protect and access their unmanaged assets for collaboration, distribution and preservation. Competition and content are only growing and it will be the M&E visionaries who will look to integrate scalable and flexible storage management software now to help them manage and protect their swelling repositories of irreplaceable assets into the future, whether on-site or on the move.