SVG Europe 2015 Forecasts: Quantum EMEA’s Laurent Fanichet

Laurent Fanichet, who is responsible for product marketing scale-out storage EMEA at Quantum

Laurent Fanichet, who is responsible for product marketing scale-out storage EMEA at Quantum

As the new year gets underway, SVG Europe will be airing the 2015 predictions of various leading broadcast technology executives. We begin with the storage-related deliberations of Laurent Fanichet, who is responsible for product marketing scale-out storage EMEA at Quantum.

1. 4K will go mainstream: Our belief is that the initial distribution of 4K content will happen via IP delivery (i.e. smart, connected TVs and devices) with services such as Netflix, Amazon, etc. leading the way. Traditional broadcast distribution of 4K content will be slow to come due to the massive investment needed both at the broadcast plant and throughout the terrestrial, cable and satellite distribution networks. But the move to 4K will be predominant upstream at the point of production, where 4K (or greater) cameras are now standard and 4K production tools (everything from live switchers, slow motion graphics, editing, etc) become 4K-capable.

All of this 4K production will strain existing legacy storage infrastructures, especially legacy general purpose storage systems that were never designed to handle these data rates in real-time. Content owners and producers will want to move as much of their production to 4K as possible, enabling both the emerging distribution services but more importantly to have that higher resolution content available for future use and monetisation. This will drive interest in more specialised storage infrastructure that is optimised for 4K workflows.

2. Cloud will become a part of the workflow: Today most people see “the cloud” as a simple repository for content, as in a Dropbox sort of model. But the constant push/pull of content up to the cloud and back every time that content is needed for a project doesn’t make sense and takes too much time. While cloud economics look attractive because of the sharing of IT resources, the ROI has been less positive for media workflow applications. This is about to change as more efficient integration of cloud services into media workflows becomes possible and workflow applications become more cloud-enabled. Whether media companies use private cloud deployments or rely on public cloud infrastructure, there will be a strong push to move workflow to the cloud, enabling wide-scale collaboration, instant access to content from anywhere, and limitless content distribution. The combination of cloud storage and cloud processing for media content will enable entirely new workflows that make content producers more efficient, more productive and ultimately more profitable.

3. Workflow Automation takes centre stage: The media industry has a plethora of technologies that attempt to help manage the lifecycle of working with media, including Content Management Systems (CMS), Digital Asset Management (DAM), Media Asset Management (MAM) etc. Historically, automation has been typically focused mostly on device automation within a media facility. The next wave will bring together aspects of media management and automation to automate many of the processes of a media workflow. This new Workflow Automation will not simply track media assets as they move through their lifecycle, but rather move media through the various stages automatically based on business rules and process management. New Workflow Automation platforms will understand media lifecycles and actively move content through the workflow, triggering both creative tasks and system processing tasks as needed. These tools will seamlessly manage content that is local, remote or in the cloud, and will interface with storage infrastructure in entirely new, more intelligent ways.

4. Converged infrastructure makes inroads into media workflows: The old adage “the best tool for the job” still rings true. To get a job done right, you need the right tools. However, in the world of IT infrastructure, having too many tools creates management headaches and complicated environments. Most content producers are not in the business of managing IT infrastructure and are looking for more intelligent platforms that minimise complexity. Achieving this requires collapsing the various silos that often develop into a more coordinated, converged infrastructure with data management layers that span across the different components to present a more unified environment. In media workflows, many tools require specific underlying storage or processing capabilities, but not all of these capabilities are needed all the time. What we will see emerge is a level of intelligent data management that automatically moves content from one type of storage (ie. high performance storage) to another (ie. cloud-based archive storage) depending on the workflow. Users will no longer have to remember where an asset is located physically as the underlying infrastructure presents a logical converged interface for access to all stored content, regardless of actual location.

5. Storage is still the bottleneck: To a large extent, most media facilities have solved the compute and networking challenges associated with building collaborative workflows. However, they still struggle with storage infrastructure that is unwieldy, hard to manage, unpredictable and difficult to scale cost-effectively. Storage is the one aspect of IT infrastructure that still causes the most headaches and is where breakdowns in an efficient workflow most often happen.  Unfortunately for many, this trend will continue. Too many organisations take a general purpose storage platform and try to “make it work” for a media workflow. While in some cases this might be good enough to get started, at some point it becomes clear that storage is the bottleneck to growing operations, working with new formats (like 4K), using new workflow applications or meeting ever-tighter production deadlines. What is needed is a more specialised storage infrastructure that delivers the optimal mix of performance, scale, capacity and flexibility, all while remaining cost-conscious – the holy grail of storage!

Successful media production environments require high performance storage for real-time media operations (such as ingesting or editing), extended online storage for non-real-time operations (such as transcoding or packaging), and cloud or tape archive storage for long-term preservation of both raw and finished content. This entire environment, under the control of an intelligent multi-tier data management platform, ensures that content is always at the right place at the right time, thereby minimising storage bottlenecks and enabling more efficient media workflows.

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