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Examining TCO for Object Storage in the Media and Entertainment Industry

The cloud has changed everything for the media and entertainment industry when it comes to storage. The economies of scale that cloud-based storage can support has transformed the way that media organizations archive multi-petabyte amounts of media.

Tape-based multi-petabyte archives present a number of challenges, including a host of implementation of maintenance issues. Data stored on tape is not accessible until the specific tape is located, loaded onto a tape drive, and then positioned to the proper location on the tape. Then there is the factor of the physical footprint of the library frame, and real estate required for frame expansions – tape libraries are huge. This becomes all the more problematic in densely populated, major media hubs such as Hollywood, Vancouver and New York.

At first, the public cloud seemed like a good alternative to tape, providing lower storage costs. But while it’s cheaper to store content in the public cloud, you must also factor in the high costs associated with data retrieval, which can be prohibitive given data egress fees. The public cloud also requires moving your entire media archive library to the cloud and giving up the freedom to use the applications of your choice. Suddenly the lower initial costs of the public cloud can be wrapped up in a significantly larger price to pay.

Object storage is emerging as a viable option that offers media companies a number of benefits and efficiencies that the public cloud and tape-based archives simply cannot provide. In fact, object storage is rapidly becoming mandatory for applications that must manage large, constantly growing repositories of media for long-term retention.

Dell EMC Elastic Cloud Storage (ECS) blends next-generation object storage with traditional storage features that offer the media and entertainment world an on-premises cloud storage platform that is cost-competitive with multi-petabyte type libraries. ECS not only simplifies the archive infrastructure, it enables critical new cloud-enabled workflows not possible with a legacy tape library.

Instant Availability of Content

The greatest benefit of object storage for media and entertainment companies is the instant availability of their media content – you can’t access media on tape without a planned and scheduled retrieval from a robotic tape library. For a broadcast company, the delay in data availability could result in a missed air date, advertiser revenue loss, and legal fees.

With instant access to their entire archives, a whole new world of possibilities opens up for content creators. Archives aren’t often considered when it comes to content creation – the process of accessing media content has historically been difficult and the process of obtaining data often takes far too long. However, with instant access to archived media, archives can effectively become monetized, rather than just sitting around on tape in a dark closet gathering dust and being wasted. Being able to access all of your media content at any time allows rapid deployment of new workflows and new revenue opportunities. Further, with object storage, engineering resources that were focused on tape library maintenance can be re-focused on new projects.

Operational Efficiencies

Object storage can also offer increased operational efficiencies – eliminating annual maintenance costs, as one example. One of the biggest – and least predictable – expenses with operating a tape library is maintenance. Errors on a tape library are commonplace, drive failures and downtime to fix issues can impact deadlines and cause data availability issues that can require valuable engineering time and result in lost revenue.

Going Hot and Cold: Consolidation and Prioritization

Public cloud storage services can enable users to move cold or inactive content off of tier 1 storage for archiving, but concerns around security, compliance, vendor-lock and unpredictable costs still remain a concern.  Cold content can still deliver value and ESC allows organizations to monetize this data and provide an active-archive with the same scalability and low costs benefits, but without the lack of IT agility and reliability concerns.

ECS allows organizations to consolidate their backup and archive storage requirements into a single platform. It can replace tape archives for long-term retention and near-line purposes, and surpass public cloud service for backup.

In the video below, Dell EMC’s Tom Burns and Manuvir Das offer some additional perspective on how the media and entertainment industry can benefit from object storage: 

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Dispelling Common Misperceptions About Cloud-Based Storage Architectures

As the media and entertainment industry moves to 4K resolution and virtual/augmented content formats, the storage and archive requirements for media content has grown exponentially. But while storage requirements continue to skyrocket, industry revenue has not grown accordingly – and M&E organizations are finding themselves challenged to “do more with less.” More organizations are looking to leverage the cost efficiencies, scalability and flexibility that cloud storage can offer, but many remain apprehensive about taking the plunge.

To be clear, in this post when we talk about “the cloud,” we’re talking cloud architectures, versus the public cloud provided by vendors such as Microsoft, AWS and Google, among others. Unlike public clouds, cloud architectures can be used completely within your facility if desired and they are designed with infinite scalability and ease of access in mind.

There are a number of misperceptions about moving data to cloud architectures that are (wait for it) clouding people’s judgment. It’s time we busted some of the bigger myths and misperceptions out there about cloud storage.

Myth #1: I’ll have to learn a whole new interface – false! Dell EMC’s Elastic Cloud Storage (ECS) employs a tiered system, where it sits under a file system – in our case, Isilon. For organizations already deploying Isilon SAN or NAS storage platforms, the workflows stay exactly as they were, as does users’ interface to the file system.

This tiered approach helps companies to “do more with less” by allowing them to free up primary storage and consolidate resources. By tiering down “cold,” inactive data to ECS, you can better optimize your tier-one higher performance storage and drive down costs.

Myth #2: My data won’t be safe in the cloud – false! ECS features a geo-efficient architecture that stores, distributes and protects data both locally and geographically, eliminating any single point of failure and providing a seamless failover from site to site with no impact to business. Further, even though the data within ECS is distributed, it’s still a secure, private environment so users won’t run into scenarios where anyone can access information without the right credentials.

Myth #3: Collaboration and access is going to be negatively impacted – false! If you look at the VFX industry, for example, teams are frequently spread across the world and working across time zones on a 24/7 basis. ECS enables global teams to work on the same piece of data at the same time from one system – it’s true collaboration. ECS’s multi-site, active-active architecture and universal accessibility enables anywhere access to content from any application or device.

Myth #4: Moving to the cloud is an all-or-nothing approach – false! ECS can be deployed when your organization is ready for it – whether that’s in a month, or six months, or a year. We realize a lot of operations personnel like to “see” their data and know first-hand that it’s there. We get that. But as things evolve, it’s likely that organizations will face pressure to take at least some of the data offsite. With ECS, you can still keep your data in the data center and, when the time is right to take your data off-site, Dell EMC can work with your organization to move your infrastructure to a hosted facility or a co-lo where you can continue to access your data just as you did when it was on-premise. ECS is available in a variety of form factors that can be deployed and expanded incrementally, so you can choose the right size for your immediate needs and project growth.

Because it is designed with “limitless scale” in mind, ECS eliminates concerns and worries of running out of storage, it can meet the needs for today’s M&E organizations, as well as those in the future simply by adding additional storage, just as you used to do with tapes.

Hopefully we’ve been able to bust a few of the myths around adopting a cloud-based storage architecture. This video featuring Dell EMC’s Tom Burns and Manuvir Das can offer additional insight into ECS’s tiered approach and how media organizations can begin seeing benefits from day one.

Stay current with Media & Entertainment industry trends here or listen to Broadcast Workflows webcast recording.

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