23 Jul

Content storage: Accelerating Cloud Migration In Search of Cost-Savings and Efficiencies

The pandemic appears to have provided the necessary impetus for more organisations to invest systematically in cloud-Based content storage.

When it comes to content storage and the cloud, there is plentiful evidence to suggest that the last 18 months have provided a ‘perfect storm’ in which an already present trend has been significantly accelerated. This applies as much to organisations already some distance down that road as to those at a more formative stage of the transition.

Raul Alba, Avid’s director of solutions marketing, points to two virtual events – held 12 mon apart – devised to help Avid keep in touch with its customers during lockdown.

“If we compare the discussions we had in both series of meetings, we have seen a significant change in the mindset,” he says. ths apart – devised to help Avid keep in touch with its customers during lockdown. 

In the most recent meetings, just weeks ago, every single customer we talked to has included clouds in its plans. Not all customers we talked to are at the same stage: some just want to be sure that any vendor they choose to work with has a roadmap to go to the cloud, while others already want to start migrating to the cloud as soon as possible.

Nonetheless, one can infer that the shift in viewpoint has been fairly dramatic in some quarters. 

For me, the most surprising aspect is how things that were seen as completely impossible or nonsense a year ago, today seem to be ‘plan A’ for many organisations,” says Alba.

Tailored solutions

As a leading innovator in the media cloud space, base has been well-placed to track the recent uptick in demand for cloud storage. Pursuing what it terms a ‘tailored cloud solutions’ approach for digital media companies, base provides clients with a central, cloud-Based media hub in which to store all their files and then seamlessly connects to a choice of pre-integrated Software as a Service tools. 

Working with media SaaS partners across multiple clouds – including AWS, Google and IBM Cloud – base can facilitate tasks such as automatic multi-site syncing for large files, accelerated global file transfer, remote Adobe editing, and sophisticated media asset management.

Ben Foakes is founder and managing director of base. He says that the company’s focus on “simplifying and packaging up” cloud storage and services has served it well. 

The way we work is that we don’t charge egress, retrieval or API call fees, and we have done all the network integration and behind-the-scenes work to do with running on multiple clouds. We started the business to simplify the cloud for media, and that continues to be [our primary objective].

Nonetheless, there is always room for improvement, and Foakes reveals that a current focus of development is “a self-service experience that means each client will have an app to access and automatically set up their environments and the way they want to work. It will make the cloud and related services more simplified for the actual users.” 

“There have been a lot of enquiries from companies over the last 18 months who are looking to close down their buildings, get rid of their hard drives and physical equipment, and go across completely to a virtual way of working for their creative teams,” he says. Meanwhile, for the more reticent organisations “who had previously been thinking about the cloud and adopting a more online, collaborative way of working, the pandemic has provided the necessary impetus to move ahead with their plans.”

Financial benefits

For Avid, Raul Alba has a clear sense of why migration of storage to the cloud is accelerating at this point: “The reasons why customers are moving – or considering moving – to the cloud are mostly related to flexibility in their operations, lower TCO [total cost of ownership] when all the factors (real estate, electricity, AC and maintenance) are considered, and the predictability of the financial cost of operations, tied to an Opex financial model.”

With this in mind Avid, continues to evolve a family of solutions that prioritise flexibility and dynamic storage of resources. These include Avid NEXIS | Cloud and Avid NEXIS | EOD, both of which are underpinned by the Avid NEXIS | File System (FS) running on cloud storage. The File System features a storage infrastructure that is managed and automated by intelligent software rather than by the storage hardware, and is virtualised into a single pool of shared resources which are allocated dynamically with the required composition of data services (such as capacity, bandwidth and protection).

Elaborating on AVID | NEXIS Cloud, Alba remarks that this “delivers tiered storage in the cloud, supporting online, nearline and archive storage for real-time media workflows. [Meanwhile] Avid NEXIS virtual storage workspaces allow complete control over the allocation of storage to individuals, teams and projects.”

Apples for apples?

Bob Bolson, director of solutions architecture at Imagine Communications, echoes many of the aforementioned factors behind the current growth in cloud storage, but also indicates that it has taken a while for the market to become more well-defined. 

At the start, he notes, “there was a lot of really expensive online storage as well as [storage solutions] that were almost like the equivalent of tape archives. But since then more tiers of solutions have become available, and that has given customers [more flexibility].

Indeed, at this stage, he points to an interesting “blurring of lines between different types of storage, so for instance a customer might want to dip their toe in the water for a certain service or type of production. It might also be that, in some cases, the price difference [between traditional and cloud storage] is not so dramatic that it immediately becomes [a must-have].

Increasingly, though, he believes that customers are likely to take a holistic approach to determining their storage arrangements. 

For instance, the benefits of cloud might become fully clear “when they drill down into the pricing, and consider the cost of the real-estate, cooling systems and manpower needed to keep [on-premise storage] up and running. They need to have a critical eye and speak with people who can give them the full story; it’s not just apples for apples.” Moreover, it is likely to be the cloud providers who can allow workflows to remain relatively unaltered who stand to benefit the most: “People like continuity, so the more you can make the workflows look and feel like those with which they are already comfortable, the better.”

Enabling content creators to carry on working in familiar ways is also a priority for Aveco, which announced the launch of its new GEMINI Media Asset Management (MAM) solution at the end of June 2021.

Designed for cloud, hybrid-cloud and on-premise use, GEMINI allows users to manage media and AI-enriched metadata, plus timeline annotations describing any frame or segment of an asset. Content assets are under control across all types of storage, including in the cloud, NAS and SAN, and video servers.

Pavel Potuzak, CEO of Aveco, says: “The introduction of the GEMINI MAM brings powerful tools that are easy to use, so people can concentrate on the task at hand, anywhere in the world and on any browser.

In terms of storage strategies, it’s clear that we are in a period of transition that may last several years yet. But with broadcasters wanting to access, process and distribute content more flexibly than ever before, it’s certain that the share of storage provided by the cloud will continue to grow steadily across the M&E industry.

By David Davis

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