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An Affordable Media Archive

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There is much talk about "the cloud" at the moment, without necessarily any real clarity about what it is, how to get it, and what the benefits are, admits Paul Wilkins, TMD.

There is a risk that in the rush to be part of the cloud, we will be hustled into some not particularly appropriate solutions, which add nothing to the efficiency of a media business.

On the other hand, used in the right way, the concept of the cloud has real attractions. Storage and processing provided by a company specialising in media-aware IT solutions should mean that the complications, like resilience, scalability, security and capex, are taken care of, leaving the media business to focus on its core activities: making and delivering great content.

It was this starting point that led TMD to develop a new service offering, with its UK partner ERA Ltd, called Coeus. Pronounced kee-yos, Coeus was one of the Titans of Greek mythology, the Titan God of Intellect, representing the inquisitive mind. Coeus is an intuitive cloud-based service for short and long term storage, management and protection of media content. It is a managed digital content library that is device independent, future proof and secure, enabling ease of access for uploading, viewing, repurposing and retrieval of media content for media businesses of any size.

The particular intellectual exercise that Coeus addresses is the need for a practical, accessible, affordable and reliable media storage. It provides a solution for both short and long-term storage, fully managed and protected in the cloud. Most important, it is designed for the specific requirements of media businesses, understanding that we deal in relatively small numbers of large files and requires easy access to these assets without being financially penalised.

This last point is what sets the media industry apart from mainstream cloud computing. It deals in scale, certainly, but is focused around large numbers of relatively small objects. The major cloud providers structure their costs around these users, which can make the big, well-known names financially unattractive to media businesses which just want somewhere secure to store and manage the content, while maintaining accessibility.

To create Coeus, TMD worked with ERA, which has a long-established track record in providing technical solutions to the media industry from a dedicated data centre in the UK. The result is a flexible and agile system with comprehensive archive asset management tools layered onto secure storage, built – and priced – with media clients in mind.

What is it that makes media archiving different, which therefore requires a dedicated approach? The large file size is at the heart of it, but that brings about a range of requirements.

Even ignoring the substantial download fees charged by major cloud providers, the idea of having to pay to transfer many gigabytes of data just to see what the file contains, or because you need a small part of it, is clearly a limiting factor. Indeed, for many it has ruled out cloud archiving as a solution, forcing them to invest in their own IT installation and staff to service it.

A key requirement, then, for a media-centric cloud service is that it should provide the functionality we already expect of in-house services. Top of the list must be a browse proxy server, so that files can be viewed, and decisions made, on the desktop without tying up expensive cloud access bandwidth.

The extension of that is that it should be possible to use the browse resolution files to set up a clip list, with the archive managing partial restores to deliver only the parts of the content required. You really do not need to pay for the download of a full one-hour drama, and wait for it to be delivered, if you just want five seconds of clips to create a trailer.

If you are a production company shooting on location, whether for dramas or documentaries, one of the key issues today is securing the content as quickly as possible, as well as getting it to the production office for evaluation and the post house to start work. A well-designed cloud archive solves these issues.

Coeus has a simple, web-based user interface. So any computer, anywhere, can log on and upload content. Rushes can be sent from the set or location to the cloud, even if it means leaving a computer running all day to upload. It provides immediate security for the content, which is stored in a highly resilient and redundant storage network, and the content is immediately available for viewing at browse resolution anywhere else in the world. Once the cut is made, only the required clips need be restored and downloaded at a fraction of the cost of larger services.

There are many businesses in the media industry which need secure storage for content, whether it is to provide wide access, just to secure valuable assets without the need to invest in IT plant and support or periodic peaks where extra storage is needed. Those businesses, in general, do not want to work their way through the complexity of creating their own solutions from existing general cloud providers – that defeats the object of outsourcing the storage and asset management.

What TMD, in conjunction with ERA, is proposing is a dedicated, cost-effective service which is easily self-provisioned, and offers simple and secure uploading, storage, viewing, repurposing and retrieval of your media content.

This article is also available to read at BFV online as part of this issue's Archive feature here, page 10.

Solidmate Ltd Memory Card Hire London

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