Grow with the flow

Your guide to vendors in the shared storage and collaborative workflow space
Demand for collaboration is placing new demands on storage and collarative workflow systems.
Demand for collaboration is placing new demands on storage and collarative workflow systems.


The norm for today’s media productions involves multiple collaborators, so sharing content on a daily basis needs to happen securely and cost-effectively without regard for facility boundaries or country borders. The idea of a ‘global facility’ is becoming a reality.

With mushrooming data volumes and demands to sweat every drop of revenue from content, the ability to store, locate and retrieve material has gained real value.

Following NAB2016, Digital Broadcast asks select vendors to help navigate prospective customers through their shared storage options.

DB: What sets your solution apart from the rest of the pack?

DDN: Only DDN allows any broadcast, studio or post-production company to support any resolution including 4K, 8K, HDR and IMF including next generation of media production at 48fps and 60fps.

EditShare: The ‘shared’ in ‘shared storage system’ means that every user and application shares resources. While sharing enables collaboration, sharing can also lead to resource conflicts or shortages if users all use the system at the same time. EditShare call this contention and try to either eliminate it (where possible) or manage it (where it can’t).

Quantum: Where others claim to have performance for the challenges of high-resolution content, we have customers today that are using StorNext 5 to simultaneously deliver multiple streams of uncompressed 4K to multiple clients from shared storage.

Avid: Our extensible and scalable storage architecture can scale from terabytes to petabytes with zero downtime and no bandwidth hots spots while enabling hundreds of clients to simultaneously collaborate without compromise.

TOA: Professional broadcast places unique demands on storage. Speed, security, low latency, file level access, consistent bandwidth, and easy scalability are mandatory. Fulfilling all these requirements at an acceptable cost is often a daunting if not impossible task. Fortunately, we understand broadcast and we understand value for money.

Promise: For over 27 years, we have been leaders in storage solutions. It is our core business and we continue to innovate to meet the growing demands associated with increased file sizes related to the media and entertainment industry.

DB: A media asset management solution is required to store, locate, retrieve and manipulate media. Some storage vendors have developed their own and/or integrate with third part MAMs. What is your strategy?

Avid: We don’t really see the world in near line or online anymore. Users can dynamically manage tradeoffs between efficient uses of space, maximum protection of assets to the varying performance needs of any production.

EditShare: Our core systems are the online, real-time XStream Storage; nearline product Ark Disk; offline product Ark Tape; and asset management product Flow. Flow is really the key to managing all layers of the storage system as it knows how to move individual assets between layers, enabling a user to archive clips that they’re no longer actively using or to recall clips from archive that are newly relevant.

Quantum: With StorNext Storage Manager, you can set up policies to automatically migrate or manage content between storage tiers based on criteria like last access date. The beauty of StorNext is users can access content transparently, regardless of where it’s stored, either through the StorNext file system, or through a MAM or other integrated applications.

Promise: While we do not produce our own MAM software solution, we do strive to integrate our storage with the most common systems available. Users can choose at which points in their workflow to integrate our solutions. Almost everyone seems to do things just a little bit differently.

DDN: With dedicated storage platforms for media workflows like MEDIAScaler and policy-based data management solutions like ArchiveDirector and DataMigrator, we can create the ultimate multi-tier architecture to optimise both storage costs and performance in a behind-the-scenes, automated, low maintenance solution. We also integrate with the best-in-breed media asset managers.

TOA: flow:rage is a broadcast-optimised enterprise-class NAS built to integrate flawlessly with our product line and cover the main tasks of content creation and delivery (ingest —> product —> playout). Additionally, our on:core workflow designer allows users to build workflows in combination with other vendors for automatically moving, retrieving and locating assets both on the flow:rage and to other storage or archive devices.

DB: How are you addressing the industry migration to IP?

Promise: Our flagship VTrak A-Class is a shared SAN/NAS appliance for multi-user collaboration to ingest, stream, and process rich media. Using the best of both worlds, it offers a high bandwidth, low latency fibre channel interface for handling low latency uncompressed video as well as scaled out compressed content leveraging Ethernet.

Quantum: The tricky part with IP delivery is setting up workflows so that monetisation efforts don’t interfere with original content creation. Most collaborative storage solutions can’t efficiently stream multiple streams of HD or 4K content for content creation while also transferring smaller files for transcode, render or delivery. That’s not a problem for StorNext workflows that include Lattus object storage in an ‘extended online’ configuration. While the online and extended online workflows share content, they access content over parallel networks, so there are none of the performance conflicts that come with mixed workloads.

TOA: We are a working on a new platform that will be a pure IP-solution but regarding standards we are keeping our options open. We are open and will be certain to ensure that our future products work well with whoever emerges as the dominant player.

Avid: With our Avid Customer Association, we are not subscribing to a particular standard. Rather, we are leading the industry with our standards committee, that is led by the world’s most influential media executives who will guide Avid and the industry to a viable standard in the future. We are tailoring our products to be able to be IP ready in the near future.

EditShare: All of our products have always used IP on top of Ethernet from the first days of file-based workflows. The last holdout is that of SDI ingest and playout and we plan to support whatever it takes to replace SDI based workflows, either by supplanting them with file-based workloads or IP-streaming cameras.

DB: How open is your technology to enable customers to build best of breed systems?

DDN creates end-to-end, high performance, open storage solutions to work in any media workflow. We support all connectivity options (IP, Fibre Channel, Omni-Path, InfiniBand) and protocols (REST, NFS, CIFS, S3, Swift) in addition to several parallel file systems, and we integrate with a multitude of media asset managers, third party software and open source solutions.

EditShare: The market has polarised to some degree in terms of clients who require ‘best fit /single platform’ solutions and those requiring ‘best of breed’ systems that can work in multiple third party environments. To the former we have a complete platform that has proved successful for many clients in broadcast, post and production, but we have also maintained an open policy for integration so we can offer the best of both worlds.

Avid: The Avid MediaCentral Platform not only runs Avid’s services and apps, it’s an open architecture and when paired with our alliances and partnership initiative, invites all partners to link into our platform to complete the workflow gaps that our customers need to be more efficient and cost effective.

Quantum: StorNext was the first non-proprietary file system built to stream and manage media across tiers of RAID and LTO tape. We’ve expanded our solutions to include Lattus object storage and Q-Cloud cloud services. StorNext 5 is integrated with dozens of asset management, edit, transcode, automation and other third-party workflow applications.

Promise: We are extremely open and not proprietary in our data storage solutions. In every single installation, we need to interface to other products both in the front-end and the back-end.

TOA: We integrate easily with other vendors. For example, we have a solid integration with Octopus for newsroom, Cantemo for MAM, and Archiware for archiving. In all of these environments our flow:rage product line can act as the backbone and deployment engine for a full solution.

DB: Can clients host assets in the cloud with your product and what would be the main advantage of doing so?

DDN: Cloud-based storage is a great way to go for media companies who have geo-distributed assets and need a way to effectively collaborate and store content across multiple sites. After uploading assets to a centralized private cloud, hybrid cloud or public cloud provider, creatives can access, edit, share and view all of their files regardless of media type.

The benefits include ease of scale, dynamic resource allocation, increased productivity, better informed decision making, improved alignment between teams and upper management, increased innovation and competitiveness, and more visibility into ongoing projects.

The risks vary by the type of cloud deployment. Public cloud risks include slow access, loss of control and security, and compliance issues. To overcome these DDN recommends private and/or hybrid cloud solutions to improve access time, increase security, and to guarantee our customers stay in control of their data and compliance.

TOA: flow:rage is and will remain a NAS device. While we are not actively pursuing our own cloud based product or service offering, our on:core workflow designer could be used to synchronize assets on a local flow:rage and a cloud based solution.

Avid MediaCentral would enable customers to use a partner’s media asset orchestration to link assets in the cloud and on our shared storage. This would provide the ultimate in collaboration and could be used for backup and archive or for offline/online workflows. Most of the industry today is concerned about security, and Avid is leading the path to the very best security for on premise and cloud storage. Look for more in the coming months from Avid on this topic.

EditShare: We offer internet-centric workflows based on our AirFlow product as a first step to a cloud-based workflow. We say ‘internet-centric’ because we believe the sweet-spot of reliability, performance, and cost today is a ‘private cloud’ solution that makes assets available to your users on your infrastructure for core editing work, but also available to others on the terms of your own choosing. There’s no need to pay for extra cloud services and no need to waste valuable time uploading content to an outside location such as Amazon or Google.

Promise: Our VSky A-series is a scale-out object storage solution for the private cloud. This storage appliance can be hosted on-premises or at a public cloud facility. VSky supports a wide range of open standards such as NFS/CIFS, iSCSI, Amazon S3, Swift, and WebDAV restful APIs, which allows our customers to deploy cloud-based storage solutions. The main advantages would be owning and controlling your very own cloud infrastructure. Probably the largest perceived risk would be not having the ability to ‘touch/see’ your solution if it was hosted off-site.

Quantum: StorNext 5 is integrated with Quantum’s Q-Cloud Archive and Q-Cloud Vault services, bringing the power of public cloud to workflows in minutes, without additional hardware or software. We’ve also helped customers build StorNext-based private cloud workflows with Lattus object storage. It’s not clear which usage scenarios will be most effective at this point, but there’s no denying that the industry wants the benefits of the cloud, whether public, private or hybrid. What all customers will need is seamless access to their content across an environment that includes both on-premise and cloud storage.

The experts

Justin Mazola Paluska, chief technology officer, EditShare

Jason Pan, senior director of business development and product marketing, Promise Technology

Shreyak Shah, senior marketing manager, DataDirect Networks

Janet Lafleur, product marketing, Quantum

Dave Colantuoni, senior director- product management, creative tools & storage | products and technology, Avid

Walter Kuntner, CEO, Tools On Air

At NAB look for..

DDN: updates to MEDIAScaler its turnkey storage platform, MEDIAScaler.

Quantum: The debut of Xcellis which nearly doubles the number of files that StorNext can handle — to 10 billion files total, with 1.4 billion files under management.

EditShare: Updates to the XStream EFS shared storage solution and a focus on cloud based production workflows.

Promise: A personal cloud offering, additional storage expansion models, and the latest in networking interface devices.

Avid: Further integration with Avid’s Orad Graphics platform and something “special” about its shared storage products.

TOA: Its first Linux based ingest product running in combination with AJA hardwar and transcoding and MAM integration workflows.

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