Taking a Modern Approach to Data Storage

by David Feller, VP of Product Management and Solutions Engineering, Spectra Logic

Not so long ago, we all had to schedule our entire day around a desired Olympic event that was only available via real-time broadcast.

Today, however, physical and virtual DVR technology has made any Olympic event, athlete, country, or any number of consolidated clips, readily available on any number of devices, at any time.

This type of sweeping video access combined with other evolving technologies only serve to confirm the seismic shifts occurring in the media and entertainment (M&E) industry, dwarfed only by the speed of shifting business models as monetisation struggles to keep up with technology.

These trends present unique opportunities, but they also create evolving technical needs, as everything needs to be readily accessible because every clip now has intrinsic value.

These merging trends, such as virtual and augmented reality, live streaming, social media, gaming, long form, broadcast television, live entertainment and video streaming services, are forever changing the M&E landscape.

Traditionally, most footage was edited and only the final render saved, but for sports, news, movies, and reality footage, those hundreds of hours of raw footage all have inherent value and are now being saved indefinitely.

At the same time, 4K, 8K and HDR are ballooning the file sizes exponentially putting a strain on all parts of the workflow, not to mention the most recent trend to have up to 30 or more formats required for every possible screen option. The bottom line is that consumer needs are driving technology faster than ever before.

Expanding content files and the need to keep them indefinitely, while maintaining fast access to everything is driving a new approach to data storage.

Fortunately, the M&E industry has decades of experience in managing large media repositories, and is at the forefront of deploying new technologies that will seamlessly adapt to changing trends and data growth in the future.

One company that is leading the industry in deploying a modern storage approach and is building an effective 10-year digital archive project to meet future data growth requirements is ITV.

As the largest commercial television network in the UK, ITV distributes high-quality content on multiple platforms, and its production studios create and sell programmes from offices in the UK, U.S., Australia, France, Germany, the Nordics and the Netherlands.

The news organisation covers more than 10 individual regions that need independent media archive with shared access across all regions, and daytime TV creates and broadcasts content worldwide on a daily basis.

ITV anticipated reaching vol­umes of up to 20PB of content over time, with an estimated increase of about 2PB each year, and needed a reliable and cost- effective way to manage and preserve their growing volumes of content.

Like most networks, a single accessible archive shared across all these groups, as well as general IT and creative content, was needed as requirements expanded faster than available budget. After analysis and vetting, ITV recognised the business need to store its content at geographically dispersed locations on differing media types for both physical and intrusion security.

ITV opted for a solution that was high in capacity and durability, with the ability to easily scale to accommodate future growth, upgrading their systems with two replicated object storage systems coupled directly to enterprise-class tape libraries.

The solution, based on Spectra Logic BlackPearl, enabled ITV to seamlessly replicate its media assets across multiple sites, while providing independent shared access to every department, with their own settable retention and copy policies including disk, tape, and cloud options using industry standard open technology that can be accessed from any location worldwide.

The ITV use case can be applied across almost every business and organisation that is tasked with preserving and managing its digital data. From small to large organisations, every industry around the world is experiencing its own data boom.

And like ITV, or a network capturing Olympic footage, each organisation must anticipate how to not only share that media with every location worldwide, but also how to store that data securely for the long-term in a way that can be accessed indefinitely. Investing in storage infrastructures that are flexible, adaptable and agile will guarantee that they preserve the past, while ensuring that they are also well positioned to secure the future.