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Storage playing key role in entertainment industry

The National Association of Broadcasters (NAB) conference has become a big focus for storage vendors. The growth in media content and the increased resolution of recordings make for a fast growing market for storage demand. And, the data is not thrown away (deleted). Media and entertainment (M&E) industry data is primarily file-based with a defined workflow using files of media in a variety of formats.

The large amount of content favors storage archiving solutions to work with media asset management for repositories of content. But, these archives are different than those used in traditional IT. The information in M&E archives is expected to be retrieved frequently and the performance of the retrieval is important. For rendering operations, high performance storage is necessary and the sharing capabilities for the post-production processes determine product usability.

Evaluator Group met with a number of storage vendors at this month’s NAB conference. Below are some of the highlights from a few of those meetings.

• For tape vendor Spectra Logic, Hossein Ziashakeri the VP of Business Development talked about changes in the media and entertainment market and Spectra Logic. He said media and entertainment is becoming more of an IT environment. Software is driving this, particularly automation tools. And the new generation of people in media and entertainment are more IT savvy than in the past. M&E challenges include the amount of content being generated. The need to keep everything is driving an overwhelming storage demand. The cost and speed of file retrieval are major concerns. Spectra Logic is a player because the M&E market has a long history with tape, which has become more of an archiving play than a backup play.

• Mike Davis, Dell’s director of marketing and strategy for file systems, said Dell’s M&E play is primarily file-based around its Compellent FS8600 scale-out NAS. Davis said M&E customers also use Dell’s Ocarina data reduction, which allowed one customer to reduce 3 PB of data. The FS8600 now supports eight nodes and 2 PB in a single system.

• Quantum has had a long term presence in the media and entertainment market with StorNext widely deployed for file management and scaling. StorNext product marketing manager Janet Lafleur said Quantum will announce its Lattus-M object storage system integrated with StorNext in May. Quantum’s current Lattus-X system supports CIFS and NFS along with objects. Quantum also has a StorNext AEL appliance that includes tape for file archiving.

• Hitachi Data Systems (HDS) had a major presence at NAB with several products on display, including Hitachi Unified Storage (HUS) storage, HNAS and Hitachi Content Platform (HCP) archiving systems. Ravi Chalaka, VP of solutions marketing, Jeff Greenwald, senior solutions marketing manager, and Jason Hardy, senior solutions consultant spoke on HDS media and entertainment initiatives. HDS is looking at solid state drives (SSDs) to improve streaming and post-production work. HNAS to Amazon S3 cloud connectivity has been available for two months, and HDS has a relationship with Crossroads to send data from HCP to Crossroads’ StrongBox LTFS appliances.

• StorageDNA CEO Tridib Chakravrty, CEO and director of marketing Rebecca Greenwell spoke about the capabilities of their company’s data movement engine. StorageDNA’s DNA Evolution includes a parallel file system built from LTFS that extracts information into XML for searching. StorageDNA technology works with most media asset management software now. The vendor plans to add S3 cloud connectivity.

• Dot Hill sells several storage arrays into M&E market through partnerships, including its OEM deal to provide build Hewlett-Packard’s MSA P2000 system. Jim Jonez, Dot Hill’s senior director of marketing, said the vendor has several partners in the post-production market.

• CloudSigma is a cloud services provider that uses solid state storage to provide services for customers such as content product software vendor Gorilla Technology. CloudSigma CEO Robert Jenkins said the provider hosts clouds in Zurich and Las Vegas built on 1U servers with four SSDs in each. The SSDs solve the problem of dealing with all random I/Os. He said CloudSigma plans to add object storage through a partnership with Scality, which will provide geo-replication.

• Signiant sells file sharing and file movement software into the M&E market. Doug Cahill, Signiant’s VP of business development, said his vendor supports the new Framework for Interoperable Media Services (FIMS) standard and recently added a Dropbox-like interface for end users. Signiant’s software works as a browser plug-in to separate the control path from the data path.

(Randy Kerns is Senior Strategist at Evaluator Group, an IT analyst firm).

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