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Jan 21, 2015
Broadcast Asia - a slice of normality in a crazy world

Broadcast Asia - a slice of normality in a crazy w

Broadcast AsiaI like Broadcast Asia - it's small enough to walk around in a couple of hours, yet all the main brands and an impressive number of international countries are represented. No-one is expecting "a big theme" or "a big announcement" in the way that is expected at NAB and IBC. In fact the general air of the show seems to be "practical solutions for real problems".

It's refreshing to see a broad range of different customers appearing on the Dalet booth for demos. At AmberFin, the average customer who wants a demo is tech-savvy and has a variety of delivery specifications that they need to make yesterday because there is an urgent rush to install a transcode farm. The MAM customers seem to range from operators to journalists to engineers, in fact a whole cross section of interesting users. I am continually impressed by the ability of the Dalet Galaxy platform to offer a single user experience to this wide range of end-users. Not only does it give a feeling of uniformity to the product, it also seems to allow the broad range of end-users to feel as though they are working the same way as part of a team. An important take-away in this crazy world.

The show floor is populated with the usual array of microwave dishes, audio mixing consoles, tripods, cameras and utility bags. Increasingly, all the other booths have a mix of laptops and servers connected to GUIs with grey backgrounds. Broadcast Asia has gone IT with a minimum of fuss, but a maximum of problem solving. In addition to the main software tools, like those from Dalet and AmberFin, there are specialist subtitling, scheduling and studio tools that cater for stations big and small. We really have entered the world where anything you can think of can be created in software on a standard platform with a minimum of specialist hardware around the outside. Surprisingly, there isn't much video on IP or 4k on display. Both of these "big ticket" items from the last 24 months seem to be taking longer than predicted to reach around the globe and gain real traction. It seems that technology never explodes quite as quickly as popular predictions would have you believe.

Tomorrow I'll be delivering a paper on Adapting Your Workflow for a Multiplatform Strategy– Giving Customers Digital Freedom of Content. If you're at Broadcast Asia then come along and I'll tell you all about how industrialisation principals can help you save money and increase profitability. If you're not at the show, then look out for the same topics appearing here as a series of blog posts between now and IBC.

Why not book an appointment to visit us at Broadcast Asia? 

Until next time.

 

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25 Years of Dalet
In 1990, six friends from engineering and business school formed a company that pioneered the first audio software and centralized database solution for the radio industry, Dalet. Canada’s national radio channel, CBC Radio, became the first Dalet system deployed with a centralized catalogue and, throughout the 90s, we expanded across Europe, Asia and the Americas, providing solutions for radio and newsrooms so successfully that in many cases the same software is still in use today. Radio continues to be an important part of our business with large customers such as Voice of America and SiriusXM Radio relying on Dalet radio solutions. One of the six founders Stéphane Guez reminisces, “We knew we wanted to start a company together, but at the beginning, we weren’t entirely sure what that company was going to be. Spread across the northern hemisphere, we’d spend hours talking on the phone with one another. Well before Skype even existed and before cell phones had come to the masses, we’d find ways to connect via telephone, even though we were flat broke and didn't have access to our own lines. When we realized what it was that we wanted to create, there was no turning back.” It wasn’t long before we realized the potential of our approach beyond radio and, in our 10th year we began extending our software to establish a comprehensive solution for television news. That same year, in June (2000), Dalet also became a publicly traded company on the Paris Bourse (Euronext Paris). By 2002, we had created an end-to-end news production system – incorporating NRCS (newsroom computer system), ingest tools, video production features, and playout control with archive capabilities – which was rapidly adopted by the industry’s most forward-thinking broadcasters, including NBC, Prime TV, and Russia Today, to name a few. The first decade of this century saw immense changes in the media industry, with the monumental shift to file-based workflows. With this came the growing need for flexible and comprehensive media asset management (MAM) solutions, a trend that we had identified and were well positioned to address with our background in news and radio. In fact, in 2009, we were honored with the IBC Innovation Award in the Content Management category having provided RTBF with a highly flexible and scalable tapeless workflow, facilitating the production across news, program and sports production operations from ingest to playout to archive. In our 20th year (2010), Dalet completed the strategic acquisition of Italian company Gruppo TNT. With their Brio video server platform, Gruppo TNT had already experienced great success in their domestic market, but Dalet saw the potential in this technology, highly complementary to our own, as the next generation of video servers on the global market. Not only has the Brio augmented our MAM-driven solutions, it has also, on its own merits, become the cornerstone of ingest and studio infrastructure at some of the world’s most prestigious media facilities. “Growing from an idea between six friends into a global business has not been without its challenges,” Michael Elhadad, another of the original six, notes. “We had to take a lot of chances and make decisions based solely on our vision of the future. We’ve had our fair share of disagreements throughout that process! It’s also been extremely rewarding to see the results of those decisions and the success that’s come thanks to the many exceptional people we’ve worked with over the years.” Looking to repeat the success of the Gruppo TNT acquisition, and further complement the now well-established 4th generation of our MAM platform, Dalet Galaxy, in April of 2014, UK-based AmberFin joined the Dalet family. Well known for high-quality transcode and file-based frame rate conversion products, the potential in combining the AmberFin expertise in media formats and processing with the workflow and media management experience of Dalet is truly exciting and already proving beneficial for our customers. Over a quarter of a century, from humble beginnings, we have become a truly international organization, proudly supporting our customers with software-based solutions that have and will continue to innovate and evolve in response to an ever-changing media economy. We especially want to thank the many individuals who have contributed to the success and growth of this company – naturally, all our past and present colleagues at Dalet, our partners, who have challenged us along the way and, of course, our customers who we exist to serve but also who have also provided their invaluable wisdom to help better our offerings. In our 25th year, and as we look to the next 25 years, we will use those secure foundations to continue firmly on that path, working in close partnership with our customers to embark on new journeys and reimagine the media enterprise.
An IBC preview that won’t leave you dizzy
When we write these blog entries each week, we normally ensure we have a draft a few days in advance to make sure we have plenty of time to review, edit and make sure that the content is worth publishing. This entry was late, very late. This pre-IBC post has been hugely challenging to write for two reasons: Drone-mounted Moccachino machines are not on the agenda – but Bruce’s post last week definitely has me avoiding marketing “spin.” There are so many things I could talk about, it’s been a struggle to determine what to leave out. Earlier this year, at the NAB Show, we announced the combination of our Workflow Engine, including the Business Process Model & Notation (BPMN) 2.0-compliant workflow designer, and our Dalet AmberFin media processing platform. Now generally available in the AmberFin v11 release, we’ll be demonstrating how customers are using this system to design, automate and monitor their media transcode and QC workflows, in mission-critical multi-platform distribution operations. Talking of multi-platform distribution, our Dalet Galaxy media asset management now has the capability to publish directly to social media outlets such as Facebook and Twitter, while the new Media Packages feature simplifies the management of complex assets, enabling users to see all of the elements associated with a specific asset, such as different episodes, promos etc., visually mapped out in a clear and simple way. Making things simple is somewhat of a theme for Dalet at IBC this year. Making ingest really easy for Adobe Premiere users, the new Adobe Panel for Dalet Brio enables users to start, stop, monitor, quality check and ingest directly from the Adobe Premiere Pro interface with new recordings brought directly into the edit bin. We’ll also be demonstrating the newly redesigned chat and messaging module in Dalet Galaxy, Dalet WebSpace and the Dalet On-the-Go mobile application. The modern, and familiar, chat interface has support for persistent chats, group chats, messaging offline users and much more. Legislation and consolidation of workflows mean that captioning and subtitling are a common challenge for many facilities. We are directly addressing that challenge with a standards-based, cross-platform strategy for the handling of captioning workflows across Dalet Galaxy, Dalet Brio and Dalet AmberFin. With the ability to read and write standards-constrained TTML, caption and subtitle data is searchable and editable inside the Dalet Galaxy MAM, while Dalet Brio is able to capture caption- and subtitle-containing ancillary data packets to disk and play them back. Dalet AmberFin natively supports the extraction and insertion of subtitle and caption data to and from .SCC and .STL formats respectively, while tight integration with other vendors extends support for other vendors. There are so many other exciting new features I could talk about, but it’s probably best to see them for yourself live in Amsterdam. Of course, if you’re not going to the show, you can always get the latest by subscribing to the blog, or get in touch with your local representative to get more information. There, and I didn’t even mention buzzwords 4K and cloud… …yet!
AmsterMAM – What’s New With Dalet at IBC (Part 1)
If you’re a regular reader of this blog, you may also receive our newsletters (if not, email us and we’ll sign you up) – the latest edition of which lists 10 reasons to visit Dalet at the upcoming IBC show (stand 8.B77). Over the next couple of weeks, I’m going to be using this blog to expand on some of those reasons, starting this week with a focus on Media Asset Management (MAM) and the Dalet Galaxy platform. Three years ago, putting together an educational seminar for SMPTE, Bruce Devlin (star of this blog and Chief Media Scientist at Dalet) interviewed a number of MAM vendors and end users about what a MAM should be and do. Pulling together the responses – starting with a large number of post-it notes and ending with a large Venn diagram – it was obvious that what “MAM” means to you is very dependent on how you want to use it. What we ended up with was a “core” of functionality that was common to all MAM-driven workflows and a number of outer circles with workflow-specific tasks. This is exactly how Dalet Galaxy is built – a unified enterprise MAM core, supporting News, Production, Sports, Archive, Program Prep and Radio, with task-specific tools unique to each business solution. At IBC we’ll be showcasing these workflows individually, but based on the same Dalet Galaxy core. For news, we have two demonstrations. Dalet News Suite is our customizable, Enterprise multimedia news production and distribution system. This IBC we’ll be showcasing new integration with social media and new tools for remote, mobile and web-based working. We’ll also be demonstrating our fully-packaged, end-to-end solution for small and mid-size newsrooms, Dalet NewsPack. In sports workflows, quick turnaround and metadata entry is essential – we’ll be showing how Dalet Sports Factory, with new advanced logging capabilities, enables fast, high-quality sports production and distribution. IBC sees the European debut of the new Dalet Galaxy-based Dalet Radio Suite, the most comprehensive, robust and flexible radio production and playout solution available, featuring Dalet OneCut editing, a rock-solid playout module featuring integration with numerous third parties and class-leading multi-site operations. Dalet Media Life provides a rich set of user tools for program prep, archive and production workflows. New for IBC this year, we’ll be previewing new “track stack” functionality for multilingual and multi-channel audio workflows, extended integration with Adobe Premiere and enhanced workflow automation. If you want to see how the Dalet Galaxy platform can support your workflow, or be central to multiple workflows click here to book at meeting at IBC or get in touch with our sales team. You can also find out more about what we’re showing at IBC here.
An Amsterdam Education! … No, Not That Type of Education
Maybe it’s a result of having two teachers as parents, but I am passionate about education and, particularly, education in our industry. Technology and innovation move forward so fast in our business that even as a seasoned industry professional it can sometimes be tricky to keep pace. That’s why I’m so excited to be doing something a little different with the Dalet Theater at IBC this year – here’s what we’ve got going on. Dalet @ IBC One of the primary reasons for visiting the IBC Show is to find out what’s new. Each morning, about an hour after the show opens, we will host a short presentation to explore all the key announcements that Dalet is making at IBC. Whatever your reasons for visiting IBC, this is a great opportunity to find out what’s new. Bruce’s (Orange) Shorts After a short break, Bruce Devlin (aka Mr. MXF) will be back on stage to preview a brand new series of Bruce’s shorts, due out later this year. Every day at 13:00 and 16:00 Bruce will present two short seminars on new technologies and trends. Partners with Dalet Across the globe, Dalet works with a number of distributors and resellers who package Dalet solutions and applications with other tools to meet the needs of their geographies. We’ve invited some of our partners to talk about how they’ve used Dalet and other technologies to address the needs of their regions (12:00). Product Focus If you want to know a little bit more about Dalet products and give your feet a bit of a rest, at 14:00 each day we’ll be focusing in on part of the Dalet portfolio. Click here to see what’s on when! Case Studies There’s no better way to learn than from someone else’s success. We will feature a number of case studies at 15:00, followed by Q&A, based on the most cutting-edge deployments of the past year. Dalet Keynote The big one…each day of the show (Friday through Monday), at 17:00, we’ve partnered with industry giants, including Adobe, Quantum and others, to bring you Dalet Keynotes, which will focus on the biggest challenges facing our industry today. There will also be some light refreshments and an opportunity to network with speakers and peers after the presentation. We’re expecting standing-room-only for the Dalet Keynote sessions so register your interest (Dalet+Adobe; Dalet+Quantum) and we’ll do our best to save you a seat. It’s going to be an amazing lineup with something for everybody – be sure to check the full Dalet Theater schedule and stop by the stand during the show for the latest additions and updates. Of course, if you want talk one-on-one with a Dalet solutions expert or have an in-depth demo tailored to your requirement, you can click here to book a meeting with us at the show. We'll be in hall 8, stand 8.B77. We can’t wait to see you there – but if you’re more of a planner and want to know what to expect elsewhere on the Dalet stand, visit our dedicated IBC page on the Dalet website. Who knows, you might even stumble across some intriguing bits of information or a clue (or two) for what we might be announcing at the show (hint, hint!). We’re looking forward to seeing you in Amsterdam! Until then…
More Secrets of Metadata
Followers of Bruce’s Shorts may remember an early episode on the Secrets of Metadata where I talked about concentrating on your metadata for your business, because it adds the value that you need. It seems the world is catching onto the idea of business value of metadata, and I don’t even have to wrestle a snake to explain it! Over the last 10 years of professional media file-based workflows, there have been many attempts at creating standardized metadata schemes. A lot of these have been generated by technologists trying to do the right thing or trying to fix a particular technical problem. Many of the initiatives have suffered from limited deployment and limited adoption because the fundamental questions they were asking centered on technology and not the business application. If you center your metadata around a business application, then you automatically take into account the workflows required to create, clean, validate, transport, store and consume that metadata. If you center the metadata around the technology, then some or all of those aspects are forgotten – and that’s where the adoption of metadata standards falls down. Why? It’s quite simple. Accurate metadata can drive business decisions that in turn improves efficiency and covers the cost of the metadata creation. Many years ago, I was presenting with the head of a well-known post house in London. He stood on stage and said in his best Australian accent “I hate metadata." You guys want me to make accurate, human oriented metadata in my facility for no cost, so that you guys can increase your profits at my expense.” Actually he used many shorter words that I’m not able to repeat here J. The message that he gave is still completely valid today: If you’re going to create accurate metadata, then who is going to consume it? If the answer is no one, ever, then you’re doing something that costs money for no results. That approach does not lead to a good long-term business. If the metadata is consumed within your own organization, then you ask the question: “Does it automate one or many processes downstream?” The automation might be a simple error check or a codec choice or an email generation or a target for a search query. The more consuming processes there are for a metadata field, the more valuable it can become. If the metadata is consumed in a different organization, then you have added value to the content by creating metadata. The value might be expressed in financial terms or in good-will terms, but fundamentally a commercial transaction is taking place by the creation of that metadata. The UK’s Digital Production Partnership and the IRT in Germany have both made great progress towards defining just enough metadata to reduce friction in B2B (business to business) file transfer in the broadcast world. Cablelabs continues to do the same for the cable world and standards bodies such as SMPTE are working with the EBU to make a core metadata definition that accelerates B2B ecommerce type applications. I would love to say that we’ve cracked the professional metadata problem, but the reality is that we’re still half way through the journey. I honestly don’t know how many standards we need. A single standard that covers every media application will be too big and unwieldy. A different standard for each B2B transaction type will cost too much to implement and sustain. I’m thinking we’ll be somewhere between these two extremes in the “Goldilocks zone,” where there are just enough schemas and the implementation cost is justified by the returns that a small number of standards can bring. As a Media Asset Management company, we spend our daily lives wrestling with the complexities of metadata. I live in hope that at least the B2B transaction element of that metadata will one day be as easy to author and as interoperable as a web page. Until then, why not check out the power of search from Luc’s blog. Without good metadata, it would be a lot less exciting.
Why Ingest to the Cloud?
With Cloud storage becoming cheaper and the data transfer to services such as Amazon S3 storage being free of charge, there are numerous reasons why ingesting to the Cloud should be part of any media organization’s workflow. So, stop trying to calculate how much storage your organization consumes by day, month or year, or whether you need a NAS, a SAN or a Grid, and find out why Cloud could be just what your organization needs. Easy Sharing of Content Instead of production crews or field journalists spending copious amounts of time and money shipping hard drives to the home site or being limited by the bandwidth of an FTP server when uploading content, with object storage services like Amazon S3 or Microsoft Azure, uploading content to the Cloud has become easy and cheap. Once content is uploaded to the Cloud, anyone with secure credentials can access it from anywhere in the world. Rights Access to Content In recent news, cloud storage services such as Apple iCloud were hacked and private content was stolen, increasing the concern about security and access rights to content in the Cloud. With secure connections such as VPN and rights access management tools, you can specify, by user, group access rights and duration of how long content can be accessed on the Cloud. Both Microsoft and Amazon have setup security features to protect your data as well as to replicate content to more secure locations. Cloud Services to Process the Data By uploading content to the Cloud, in the backend you can setup services and workflows to run QC checks on the content, stream media, transcode to multiple formats, and organize the content for search and retrieval using a Media Asset Management (MAM) System hosted on the Cloud. Cloud Scalability Rather than buying an expensive tape library or continuing to purchase more hardware for a spinning disk storage, with cloud storage, one can scale down or scale up with the click of a button. No need for over-provisioning. Disaster Recovery An organization can easily set up secure data replication from one site to another or institute replication rules to copy content to multiple virtual containers, offering assurance that content will not be lost. Amazon S3 provides durable infrastructure to store important data and is designed for durability of 99.99999999% of objects. Moving Towards an OPEX Model As operations and storage move to the Cloud, you can control your investment by paying as you use services and storing content on the Cloud. Instead of investing on infrastructure maintenance and support, with operations on the Cloud, you can focus the investment on what makes a difference, the content and not the infrastructure to support it. Why Upload to the Cloud? The Cloud is no longer a technology of the future, with cloud storage adopted by Google, Facebook and Instagram, Cloud technology is the reality of today. By adopting this technology you control your investment by usage needs, backup your data and provide secure access to content to anyone with credentials anywhere in the world. The biggest limitation now is bandwidth, and the hurdle is adjusting the current infrastructure to support Cloud operations. Many organizations are turning towards a hybrid Cloud model, where content and services are hosted both locally and via Cloud solutions. Learning from the Cloud experience, Dalet has made initiatives over the past few years to evolve existing tools and services for the Cloud. Dalet now offers direct ingest from the Dalet Brio video server to Amazon S3 Storage and, at NAB this year in Las Vegas, Dalet showcased the first MAM-based Newsroom on the Cloud. To learn more about Dalet ingest solutions, please visit the ingest application page.
MXF AS02 and IMF: What's the Difference and Can They Work Together?
If you read my previous posts about IMF, you will already know what it is and how it works. But one of the questions I often get is "how is IMF different from AS02 and will it replace it? After all, don’t they both claim to provide a solution to versioning problems?". In a nutshell, the answer is yes, IMF and AS02 are different and no, IMF will not replace AS02; in fact the two complement and enhance each other. Let me explain: MXF AS02 (for broadcast versioning) and IMF (for movie versioning) grew up at the same time. And while both had very similar requirements in the early stages, we soon ended up in a situation where the level of sophistication required by the broadcasters’ versioning process never really reached critical industry mass. Efforts were continually made to merge the MXF AS02 work and the IMF work to prevent duplication of effort and to ensure that the widest number of interoperable applications could be met with the minimum number of specifications. When it came to merging the AS02 and IMF work, we looked at the question of what would be a good technical solution for all of the versioning that takes place in an increasingly complex value chain. It was clear that in the studio business there was a need for IMF, and that the technical solution should recognize the scale of the challenge. It came down to a very simple technical decision, and a simple case of math. AS02 does all of its versioning using binary MXF files, while IMF does all of its versioning using human-readable XML files. There are maybe 20 or 30 really good MXF binary programmers in the world today; XML is much more generic, and there must be hundreds of thousands of top quality XML programmers out there. Given the growing amount of localized versioning that we are now faced with, it makes sense to use a more generic technology like XML to represent the various content versions whilst maintaining the proven AS02 media wrapping to store the essence components. In a nutshell this is the main difference between AS02 and IMF. Both standards have exactly the same pedigree and aim to solve exactly the same problems, but IMF benefits from a more sophisticated versioning model and therefore requires a greater degree of customization – and XML is a better means of achieving this. IMF is not going to replace AS02. Rather the goal is to get to a place where we have a standardized IMF package as a means of exchanging versioned packages within the workflow. IMF will actually enhance the AS02 bundles that represent componentized clips that are already ingested, transcoded and interchanged today.
Shared Storage for Media Workflows… Part 1
In part one of this article, Dalet Director of Marketing Ben Davenport lists and explains the key concepts to master when selecting storage for media workflows. Part two, authored by Quantum Senior Product Marketing Manager Janet Lafleur, focuses on storage technologies and usages. The first time I edited any media, I did it with a razor and some sticky tape. It wasn’t a complicated edit – I was stitching together audio recordings of two movements of a Mozart piano concerto. It also wasn’t that long ago and I confess that every subsequent occasion I used a DAW (Digital Audio Workstation). I’m guessing that there aren’t many (or possibly any) readers of this blog that remember splicing video tape together (that died off with helical-scan) but there are probably a fair few who have, in the past, performed a linear edit with two or more tape machines and a switcher. Today, however, most media operations (even down to media consumption) are non-linear; this presents some interesting challenges when storing, and possibly more importantly, recalling media. To understand why this is so challenging, we first need to think about the elements of the media itself and then the way in which these elements are accessed. Media Elements The biggest element, both in terms of complex and data, is video. High Definition (HD) video, for example, will pass “uncompressed” down a serial digital interface (SDI) cable at 1.5Gbps. Storing and moving content at these data rates is impractical for most media facilities, so we compress the signal by removing psychovisually, spatially, and often temporally redundant elements. Most compressions schemes will ensure that decompressing or decoding the file requires less processing cycles that the compression process. However, it is inevitable that some cycles are necessary and, as video playback has a critical temporal element, it will always be necessary to “read ahead” in a video file and buffer at the playback client. Where temporally redundant components are also removed, such as in a MPEG LongGOP compression scheme like Sony XDCAM HD, the buffering requirements are significantly increased as the client will need to read all the temporal references, typically a minimum of one second of video, or 1Gb of data. When compared to video, the data rate of audio and ancillary data (captions, etc.) is small enough that often it is stored “uncompressed” and therefore requires less in the way of CPU cycles ahead of playback – this does, however, introduce some challenges for storage in the way that audio samples and ancillary data are accessed. Media Access Files containing video, even when compressed, are big - 50Mbps is about as low a bit rate as most media organizations will go. On its own, that might sound well within the capabilities of even consumer devices – typically a 7200rpm hard disk would have a “disk-to-buffer” transfer rate of around 1Gbps, but this is not the whole story. 50Mbps is the video bit rate – audio and ancillary data results in an additional 8-16Mbps Many operations will run “as fast as possible” - although processing cycles are often the restricting factor here, but even a playback or review process will likely include “off-speed” playback up to 8 or 16 times faster than real-time – the latter requiring over 1Gbps Many operations will utilize multiple streams of video Sufficient bandwidth is therefore the first requirement for media operations, but this is not the only thing to consider. If we take a simple example of a user reviewing a piece of long-form material, a documentary for instance, in a typical manual QC of checking the beginning, middle and end of the media. As the media is loaded into the playback client, the start of the file(s) will be read from storage and, more than likely, buffered into memory. The user’s actions here are fairly predictable, and therefore developing and optimizing a storage system with deterministic behavior in this scenario is highly achievable. However, the user then jumps to a pseudo-random point in the middle of the program; at this point the playback client needs to do a number of things. First, it is likely that the player will need to read the header (or footer) of the file(s) to find the location of the video/audio/ancillary data samples that the user has chosen – a small, contained read operation where any form, if buffering, is probably undesirable. The player will then read the media elements themselves, but these too are read operations of varying sizes: Video: If a “LongGOP” encoded file, potentially up to twice the duration of the “GOP” – in XDCAM HD, 1 sec ~6MB Audio: A minimum of a video frames-worth of samples ~6KB Ancillary data: Dependent on what is stored, but considering captions and picture descriptions ~6B Architecting a storage system that ensures that these reads of significantly different orders happen quickly and efficiently to provide the user with a responsive and deterministic way for dozens of clients often accessing the exact same file(s) requires significant expertise and testing. Check back tomorrow for part two of “Shared Storage for Media Workflows,” where Janet Lafleur looks at how storage can be designed and architected to respond to these demands!
Shared Storage for Media Workflows… Part 2
In this guest blog post, Quantum Senior Product Marketing Manager Janet Lafleur shares in-depth insights on storage technologies as well as general usage recommendations. Read part one of this two-part series here, written by Dalet Director of Marketing Ben Davenport, which details the key challenges for storage in today’s media workflows. Storage Technologies for Media Workflows Video editing has always placed higher demands on storage than any other file-based applications, and with today’s higher resolution formats, streaming video content demands even more performance from storage systems, with 4K raw requiring 1210 MB/sec per stream—7.3 times more throughput than raw HD. In the early days of non-linear editing, this level of performance could only be achieved with direct attached storage (DAS). As technology progressed, we were able to add shared collaboration even with many HD streams. Unfortunately, with the extreme demands of 4K and beyond, many workflows are resorting to DAS again, despite its drawbacks. With DAS, sharing large media files between editors and moving the content through the workflow means copying the files across the network or on reusable media such as individual USB and Thunderbolt-attached hard drives. That’s not only expensive because it duplicates the storage capacity required; it also diminishes user productivity and can break version control protocols. NAS vs. SAN for media workflows For media workflows, the most common shared storage systems are scale-out Network Attached Storage (NAS), which delivers files over Ethernet, and shared SAN, which deliver content over Fibre Channel. Scale-out NAS aggregates I/O across a cluster of nodes, each with its own network connection, for far better performance than traditional NAS. However, even the industry-leading NAS solutions running on 10 Gb Ethernet struggle to deliver more than 400MB for a single data stream. In contrast, shared Storage Area Network (SAN) solutions can provide the 1.6 GB/sec performance required for editing streaming video files at resolutions at or greater than 2K uncompressed. In a shared SAN, access to shared volumes is carefully controlled by a server that manages file locking, space allocation and access authorization. By placing this server outside the data path – between the client and the storage – shared SAN eliminates the NAS bottleneck and improves the overall storage performance. Fortunately, there are media storage solutions that provide both NAS and SAN access from a shared storage infrastructure, giving the choice of IP or Fibre Channel protocols depending on user or application requirements. Object storage for large-scale digital libraries Regardless of whether it’s SAN or NAS, most disk storage systems are built with RAID. Using today’s multi-terabyte drives and RAID 6, it’s possible to manage a single RAID array up to 12 drives with a total usable capacity of about 38 terabytes. However, even a modestly sized online asset collection requires an array larger than 12 disks, putting it at higher risk of data loss from hardware failure. The alternative is dividing data across multiple RAID arrays, which increases the cost as well as management complexity. Also, failure of a 4TB or larger drive can result in increased risk and degraded performance for 24-48 hours or more while the RAID array rebuilds depending on the load of work being done. Object storage offers a fundamentally different, more flexible approach to disk storage. Object storage uses a flat namespace and abstracts the data addressing from the physical storage, allowing digital libraries to scale indefinitely. Unlike RAID, object storage can be dispersed geographically to protect from disk, node, rack, or even site failures without replication. When a drive fails, the object storage redistributes the erasure code data without degrading user performance. Because object storage is scalable, secure and cost-effective, and enables content to be accessible at disk access speeds from multiple locations, it’s ideal for content repositories. Object storage can be deployed with a file system layer using Fibre Channel or IP connectivity, or can be integrated directly into a media asset manager or other workflow application through HTTP REST. The best object storage implementations allow both. Choosing the right storage for every step in the workflow An ideal storage solution allows a single content repository to be shared throughout the workflow, but stored and accessed according to the performance and cost requirements for each workflow application. Shared SAN for editing, ingest and delivery. To meet the high-performance storage demands of full-resolution video content, a SAN with Fibre Channel connections should be deployed for video editing workstations, ingest and delivery servers, and any other workflow operation that requires the 700 MB/sec per user read or write performance needed to stream files at 2K resolution or above. Object storage or scale-out NAS for transcoding, rendering and delivery. Transcoding and rendering servers should be connected storage that can deliver 70-110 MB/sec over Ethernet with high IOPS (Input/Output Operations Per Second) performance for much smaller files, often only 4-8K in size. While scale-out NAS and object storage can both fulfill this requirement, solutions that can be managed seamlessly alongside SAN-based online storage greatly simplify management and can reduce costs. Object storage or LTO/LTFS tape for archiving. For large-scale asset libraries, durability and lower costs are paramount. Both object storage and LTO/LTFS tape libraries meet these requirements. But for facilities doing content monetization, object storage offers the advantage of supporting transcode and delivery operations while also offering economical, scalable long-term data protection. Policy-based automation to migrate and manage all storage types. No workflow storage solution with multiple storage types is truly complete without automation. With intelligent automation, content can be easily migrated between and managed across different types of storage based on workflow-specific policies. At a time where the digital footprint of content is growing exponentially due to higher-resolution formats, additional distribution formats, and more cameras capturing more footage, the opportunities for content creators and owners have never been greater. The trick is keeping that content readily available and easily accessible for users and workflow applications to do their magic. By choosing the right storage solutions and carefully planning, facilities can move forward with new technologies to meet new demands, without disrupting their workflow.