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15/04/2014

Object Storage: A 100-Year Workflow For Content Creators...

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Before the BBC iPlayer, Netflix, YouTube and Lovefilm age, the content creators of yesterday couldn't have dreamed of the myriad of ways media is devoured today, writes Laurent Fanichet, Product Marketing Manager, Big Data - EMEA/APAC.

97 of the 798 episodes of the BBC's Doctor Who that have been filmed since the show aired in 1963 are missing. According to the New Yorker, old episodes were simply taped over when new ones were made: "In the 1960s and 70s, the BBC had customarily wiped tapes after broadcast."
So how can we ensure that today's programmes are not lost tomorrow? And how can content owners easily locate and monetise content?
Quick access to content has obvious benefits. To the newsroom video editor, it's finding a source clips of an M25 traffic hold up or a picturesque Cornwall sunset to meet tight deadlines for the evening news.
For new distribution channels, it's about not having to broker new distribution deals and sourcing the right legacy content quickly and easily.
In many production workflows content is archived to tape after broadcast or distribution and is not always made directly available to content creators for future productions. To access it, producers or editors make a request to an archivist and may wait hours or even overnight to get the clips. With modern media asset management (MAM) systems, content can be catalogued and proxies made available for quick review. When MAM is integrated with a tiered storage and archive solution, high-resolution files can be retrieved with a click of a mouse, even if they are stored on second or third tier storage.
Tiered storage systems are perfect for managing digital libraries, and disk and tape are economical storage media options for second or third tiers. The long-term issue with content archives built with RAID and digital tape is that long term migration to new disk or tape media is a manual process. With large libraries, the migration time can be years and it's not unheard of for content to be simply abandoned in its original format, with many companies deciding that it's not worth the time and effort.
So if you've got legacy content stored on outdated media, it's best not to delay migration, and any new content you create should ideally be stored in the most technologically sustainable manner possible. Ask yourself: how can you be sure that the storage and distribution solution you start out with today will hold you in good stead for the foreseeable future?
Enter object storage, enabling an option that can be part of a 100-year workflow. Object storage is only just starting to enter media workflows as content owners continue to grapple with petabyte or even greater content archives. Originally known for powering the world's largest public cloud storage, it has recently become affordable and practical for companies with outsize storage needs. As it affordably combines disk-speed access with long-term durability, more media companies are turning to object storage for long-term storage of digital assets.
Object storage's workflow breaks from the traditional hierarchical file system architecture, which inhibits flexibility in global access. Instead, object storage assumes a model that can be compared to valet parking. Think of objects as your car and the ticket you’re given by the valet stand as the object's ID. You don't know where your car is parked while you're at a restaurant; all you know is that it's driven to you once you produce the ticket.
Similarly with object storage, there's no limit to the physical distance of the data you need to retrieve, and it doesn't matter – all that's relevant is that the clip is available to you right when you need it, and can be pulled back and reused immediately.
The object storage technique for storing data also helps to prevent disruption in data integrity that can plague traditional RAID systems. Called erasure coding, this process involves converting data into an algorithm that is spread throughout the object storage system.
It shortens time to recovery after common disk related failures that can disrupt data integrity or access performance in traditional RAID systems. Moreover, it allows for equal, swift access to content on a global scale.
As a disk-based storage, object storage can start streaming content immediately, versus tape, where there is a lag while the tape is retrieved.
But unlike traditional RAID disk, it's more scalable and offers better protection at a lower price. Furthermore, it makes migrating to new disk technology as easy as replacing drives on RAID failure. It's a perfect fit for digital libraries that are massive and need to be long-lasting.
As with all technology, there's no ironclad guarantee of longevity with object storage. But its automatic migration alone offers invaluable efficiencies for content owners that make it difficult to pass up. It means you'll be ready to remonetise your content and ensures the next set of Dr Whos will be available to be enjoyed in the future.

The article is also available in the online edition of RFV here.

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