NAB Perspectives: Quantum’s Grossman on 4K Storage and StorNext 5

It was a big NAB Show for Quantum, which tackled the 4K buzz head-on with the release of its new StorNext Pro Storage Solution. The system is specifically designed to enable digital workflows and drive higher levels of efficiency for broadcasters and postproduction facilities. It adequately supports 4K workflows, more camera formats,
and a greater number of delivery options.

StorNext Pro Solutions leverages the power of the newly re-architected StorNext 5 platform. The offerings are initially available in three configurations, each tailored to specific customer workflows: StorNext Pro Studio, StorNext Pro 4K, and StorNext Pro Production.

Alex Grossman, vice president, media and entertainment, at Quantum’s NAB 2014 booth

Alex Grossman, president, media and entertainment, at Quantum’s NAB 2014 booth

To learn more about Quantum’s suite of solutions and how 4K workflows are being handled, SVG caught up with Alex Grossman, vice president, media and entertainment, at NAB 2014.

Tell us about StorNext 5 and what makes this bigger and better for Quantum.
StorNext 5 is a groundbreaking development. It’s really the reimagining of StorNext, , the leading open systems collaboration storage platform. We’ve taken StorNext and, over the last two years, completely taken it apart. It’s almost 3 million lines of code, so it does quite a bit. But we’ve engineered all the pieces of StorNext to get higher performance and greater reliability and to make the footprint smaller.

What it does for the customers that already have it (if they’re already under maintenance contract with us, they get it for free, which is pretty cool) is, it changes the footprint on the disc to be smaller, which makes accessing it faster. In a more modern workflow, it makes things like transcoding significantly faster. Before, [users had] to buy a lot of really fast discs and spend a lot of attention on ingesting, editing, playout, and delivery; [they] had to think about how do I coordinate that. Now it can happen all simultaneously even [for] resolutions up to 4K.

The other thing with StorNext 5 is that we modernized it, saying how can I make the footprint smaller so it runs on lower-cost computers —that was a big thing — but, if you have more cores and you have more memory, we take full advantage of it so you can scale to bigger workgroups.

This lends itself to more remote workflows, I imagine.
Oh, yeah. Three things are super important, and I’ll take them in a kind of reverse order of importance:

One is LTFS. People today are doing a lot more remote work. Okay, in sports, you always do remote, and there’s a lot of ways to get stuff back and forth. One way is, you can FTP it or use WAN acceleration, which a lot of people do. The other way is to FedEx a disc, which a lot of people do. But discs are really expensive for moving a lot of content, so we put LTFS — which is a linear-tape format, really inexpensive — and now it’s native in StorNext. When you finish editing, you just push to LTFS. Or we have raw ingest from the camera right into LTFS and ship that.

The second and third really are combined, and it’s about [enabling] remote work. There’s this thing called a cloud that we all hear about. It’s really important, and there are private clouds and public clouds. Public clouds are great, except how do you take a public cloud and really use it when all of your content is super-valuable? You don’t want it out on public cloud, but you want the advantage of having multiple people being able to work off a central location, and so we enable a private cloud with StorNext 5 that you can actually have everybody send content up and you still use the same type of tools as FTP.

You can transcode in the cloud; you can edit in the cloud; if you have a media-asset manager, you can do all your media-asset management from the cloud; and you can deliver from the cloud. So we just did something a little out of the [norm] with StorNext 5 but really more in the whole cloud piece with StorNext 5, because we showed something with [Levels Beyond’s] Reach Engine, which a lot of sportscasters use. We have been working with [Levels Beyond] and Adobe really closely over the last six months to enable the idea of nearly live production to happen at a central location where you could do all the workflow.

We can ingest content directly to The Switch’s SUPERNAP data center [Tier IV colocation facility that serves as the cloud] with an automated process, show transcoding, building proxy formats, finishing and delivering right from SUPERNAP. So the content never moves, and it gets all done. So think of people remotely out in the field, whether it’s a stadium or an event, you could just do that. I think of all the different sports being able to do that, and it’s really exciting.

Are you noticing any trends throughout the show in general and your booth in particular? When you’re dealing with current customers and even some prospective customers, what have they been asking about file-based workflows and the cloud? Are people more receptive to these things?
We get three questions all the time here:

One, how do I get StorNext 5, and the answer is. you go online and get it because we give it to you. The second question we get, from the sports people especially, is, I need to look at 4K workflows. What do I do? The third question is, we keep hearing all about the cloud, we notice that you have a whole bunch of really pretty clouds in your booth here, how do I get into the cloud? How am I going to use it?

I’d love to say I’ve left the booth enough, but It’s been 4K. Higher resolution.

We’re reading about 4K, and people are asking us, why don’t I do an 8K archive? They’re saying they need to get ready now because, three years from now, they’ll be archiving 8K. The reason they’re getting that, from what we can tell from people coming by the booth, is their customer is asking them are they ready for 4K: before I invest in you, I want to be ready for 4K.

Do you think 8K is going to lap 4K?
I think there are people today that [thinking], if they’ve got to spend their money, they’re going to be 8K-ready. But they’re going to deliver first in 4K.

I talked to so many people [at NAB 2014], and, when we were talking about what camera they’re going to buy, they were saying, I will not buy an HD camera. All I will buy is a 4K. I will spend the money because I know I’m going to need it.

Colleges have been a big segment for you. Anything special from those clients? Have you been meeting more colleges at NAB 2014, and what are their needs that are different from the pro clients?
We have been meeting them here as well, and we meet with them all the time. Budget is very important and being able to get packages. So, for them, it’s all about buying the best value-priced system they can get that delivers the best performance without having to make it themselves.

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