New cloud archive workflows floating on the horizon
By: Lee Sheppard, Director of Product Management, SGL
Featured in KitPlus, Issue 123 March 2017
The way in which we consume content has fundamentally changed. We want to watch what we want, when we want, where we want and how we want, and we want to find programmes quickly, preferably in HD or increasingly UHD. Content is king and in order to satisfy consumer requirements it is essential media companies can locate their material quickly and easily.
The influx of OTT services has been a game changer. Now media companies must deliver millions of different files in different formats to multiple destinations. Automated MAM workflows with seamless integration to archive technology are essential to allow the retrieval/archive of assets quickly. SGL has close technology partnerships with leading MAM/PAM providers including: Avid, Grass Valley, Marquis, SAM, VSN and CatDV, which provide a complete toolset with simple workflow rules that allow content to be efficiently archived and restored. Configured to create a collaborative production environment, these technical solutions and associated workflows supply media organisations with all the tools necessary to plan, create, publish and archive their production.
To handle these demands, archiving options are developing quickly and storage environments are becoming more complex. This has resulted in an increase in hybrid archiving models. As cloud systems continue to evolve, assets are likely to be stored for specific time periods on appropriate storage technologies for business reasons. Media companies need to be able to take advantage of the benefits of each type of storage mechanism and use what is appropriate and cost-effective at each point in the content life cycle. Management of these decisions and processes requires sophisticated storage management systems. This is primarily what we are seeing now. Tape is here to stay, but as the archive becomes a more fundamental part of the workflow, not just at the end of the chain, customers are examining how they can achieve the benefits of using the cloud while managing the risks and costs. Therefore, hybrid archives utilising the respective benefits of tape, disk, optical storage and cloud are becoming more common.
These new workflows are creating new ways of working in the production environment. A production company, for example, could shoot all their raw footage and send it directly to the cloud. At this point the cloud solution can automatically send a notification to the archive system to say that the material is there. The archive system doesn’t need to move those assets to another location; it simply logs the data. In this instance the workflow starts in the cloud and the archive and ends there.
Archive manufacturers are working closely with cloud solution providers to produce these new workflows and to create stronger tools. This not only ensures that assets are sent to the correct place but also provides a way for media companies to control their storage costs by working out the price to store and retrieve those assets to and from the cloud. The archive also makes all the assets available, wherever they are stored, from a single point of reference, allowing operators to create low-res proxy files so that they can scan and select material to be restored. These new tools give content owners a far wider footprint of assets; crucial in the multi-version, multi-platform, multi-channel world.
Another trend that media companies are considering is a move towards the private cloud using object storage. This option avoids issues associated with the public cloud (the risk of losing of intellectual property) whilst gaining some of the main benefits: distribution and collaboration. The downside of course is the capital investment that can be avoided with public cloud but on the upside your assets are entirely under your control.
IP and virtual environments are seeing workflows developing further. Media companies are exploring the possibilities of moving everything to a virtual environment so that all their tools are software driven. This means they can edit content, create timelines, QC, monitor sound, do voiceovers etc. and then pass the content to the next person without ever downloading the assets to a local machine. Although media companies still have concerns regarding security, prices are becoming a lot more competitive and they are starting to see the benefits.
While it’s still early days, these services will offer significant advantages in terms of cost and organisational changes, which will no doubt impact future decision making. SGL is working closely with multiple companies to ensure that archive workflows can dovetail with cloud-based operating workflows.
SGL closely cooperates with media cloud providers. The company supports both nearline and deep cloud such as Amazon’s S3 and Glacier tiers. This means that broadcasters and content owners can quickly and easily transfer material directly to the cloud from their MAM system using SGL FlashNet. FlashNet also offers rich integration with Sony’s cloud-based service, Ci, that allows media professionals to collaborate on the creation and sharing of high-quality, high resolution content. In addition, FlashNet enables delivery of assets to various cloud and remote destinations using transport solutions such as Aspera and ExpeDat Gateway.