OWC 12.4

NAB 2019: Storage for M&E workflows

By Tom Coughlin

Storage is a vital element in modern post production, since that’s where the video content lives. Let’s look at trends in media post production storage and products shown at the 2019 NAB show. First let’s look at general post production storage architectures and storage trends.

My company produces the yearly “Digital Storage in Media and Entertainment Report,” so we are keeping an eye on storage all year round. The image to the right is a schematic from our 2018 report — it’s a nonlinear editing station showing  optional connections to shared online (or realtime) storage via a SAN or NAS (or even a cloud-based object storage system) and a host bus adapter (HBA or xGbE card). I hope this gives you some good background for what’s to come.

Our 2018 report also includes data from our annual Digital Storage in Media and Entertainment Professional Survey. The report shows that storage capacity annual demand is expected to be over 110 Exabytes of storage by 2023. In 2018 48% of responding survey participants said that they used cloud-based storage for editing and post production. And 56% also said that they have 1TB or more storage capacity in the cloud. In 2018, Internet distribution was the most popular way to view proxies.

All of this proves that M&E pros will continue to use multiple types of digital storage to enable their workflows, with significant growth in the use of cloud storage for collaborative and field projects. With that in mind, let’s dig into some of the storage offerings that were on display at NAB 2019.

Workflow Storage
Dell Technologies said that significant developments in its work with VMware unlock the value of virtualization for applications and tools to automate many critical M&E workflows and operations. Dell EMC and VMware said that they are about to unveil the recipe book for making virtualization a reality for the M&E industry.

Qumulo announced an expansion of its cloud-native file storage offerings. The company introduced two new products —CloudStudio and CloudContinuity — as well as support for Qumulo’s cloud-native, distributed hybrid file system on the Google Cloud Platform (GCP). Qumulo has partnered with Google to support Qumulo’s hybrid cloud file system on GCP and on the Google Cloud Platform Marketplace. Enterprises will be able to take advantage of the elastic compute resources, operational agility, and advanced services that Google’s public cloud offers. With the addition of the Google Cloud Platform, Qumulo is able to provide multi-cloud platform support, making it easy for users to store, manage and access their data, workloads and applications in both Amazon Web Services (AWS) and GCP. Qumulo also enables data replication between clouds for migration or multi-copy requirements.

M&E companies of any size can scale production into the public cloud with CloudStudio, which securely moves traditionally on-prem workspaces, including desktops, applications and data, to the public cloud on both the AWS and GCP platforms. Qumulo’s file storage software is the same whether on-prem or in the cloud, making the transition seamless and easy and eliminating the need to reconfigure applications or retrain users.

CloudContinuity enables users to automatically replicate their data from an on-prem Qumulo cluster to a Qumulo instance running in the cloud. Should a primary on-prem storage system experience a catastrophic failure, customers can redirect users and applications to the Qumulo cloud, where they will have access to all of their data immediately. CloudContinuity also enables quick, automated fail-back to an on-prem cluster in disaster recovery scenarios.

Quantum announced its VS-Series, designed for surveillance and industrial IoT applications. The VS-Series is available in a broad range of server choices, suitable for deployments with fewer than 10 cameras up to the largest environments with thousands of cameras. Using the VS-Series, security pros can efficiently record and store surveillance footage and run an entire security infrastructure on a single platform.

Quantum’s VS-Series architecture is based on the Quantum Cloud Storage Platform (CSP), a new software-defined storage platform specifically designed for storing machine and sensor-generated data. Like storage technologies used in the cloud, the Quantum CSP is software-defined and can be deployed on bare metal, as a virtual machine, or as part of a hyperconverged infrastructure.Unlike other software-defined storage technologies, the Quantum CSP was designed specifically for video and other forms of high-resolution content — engineered for extremely low latency, maximizing the streaming performance of large files to storage.

The Quantum Cloud Storage Platform allows high-speed video recording with optimal camera density and can host and run certified VMS management applications, recording servers and other building control servers on a single platform.

Quantum say that the VS-Series product line is being offered in a variety of deployment options, including software-only, mini-tower and 1U, 2U and 4U hyperconverged servers.

Key VS-Series attributes:
– Supports high camera density and software architecture that enables users to run their entire security infrastructure on a single hyperconverged platform.
– Offers a software-defined platform with the broadest range of deployment options. Many appliances can scale out for more cameras or scale up for increased retention.
– Comes pre-installed with certified VMS applications and can be installed and configured in minutes.
– Offers a fault-tolerant design to minimize hardware and software issues, which is meant to virtually eliminate downtime

Quantum was also showing its R-3000 at NAB. This box was designed for in-vehicle data capture for developing driver assistance and autonomous driving systems. This NAS box includes storage modules of 60TB with HDDs and 23TB or 46TB using SSDs. It works off 12 volt power and features two 10 GbE ports.

Arrow Distribution bundled NetApp storage appliances with Axle AI software. The three solutions offered are the VM100, VM200 and VM400 with 100TB, 200TB and 400TB, respectively, with 10GbE network interfaces and NetApp’s FAS architecture. Each configuration also includes an Intel-based application server running a five-user version of Axle AI 2019. The software includes a browser front-end that allows multiple users to tag, catalog and search their media files, as well as a range of AI-driven options for automatically cataloging and discovering specific visual and audio attributes within those files.

Avid Nexis|Cloudspaces

Avid Nexis|Cloudspaces is a storage as a service (SaaS) offering for post, news and sports teams, enabling them to store and park media and projects not currently in production in the cloud, leveraging Microsoft Azure. This frees up local Nexis storage space for production work. The company is offering all Avid Nexis users a limited-time free offer of 2TB of Microsoft Azure storage that is auto-provisioned for easy setup and can scale as needed. Avid Nexis manages these Cloudspaces alongside local workspaces, allowing unified content management.

DDP was showing a rack with hybrid SSD/HDD storage that the company says provides 24/7 365 days of reliable operation with zero interruptions and a transparent failover setup. DDP has redesigned its GUI to provide faster operation and easier use.

Facilis displayed its new Hub shared storage line developed specifically for media production workflows. Built as an entirely new platform, Facilis Hub represents the evolution of the Facilis shared file system with the block-level virtualization and multi-connectivity performance required in shared creative environments. This solution offers both block-mode Fibre Channel and Ethernet connectivity simultaneously, allowing connection through either method with the same permissions, user accounts and desktop appearance.

Facilis’ Object Cloud is an integrated disk-caching system for cloud and LTO backup and archive that includes up to 100TB of cloud storage for one low yearly cost. A native Facilis virtual volume can display cloud, tape and spinning disk data in the same directory structure, on the client desktop. Every Facilis Hub shared storage server comes with unlimited seats of the Facilis FastTracker asset tracking application. The Object Cloud software and storage package is available for most Facilis servers running version 7.2 or higher.

Facilis also had particular product updates. The Facilis 8 has 1GB/s data rates through standard dual-port 10GbE and options for 40GbE and Fibre Channel connectivity with 32TB, 48TB and 64TB capacities. The Facilis Hub 16 model offers 2GB/s speed with 16 HDDs with 64TB, 96TB and 128TB capacities. The company’s Hub Hybrid 16 model and SSD offers SSDs in an integrated high-capacity HDD-based storage system offering performance of 3GB/s and 4GB/s. With two or more Hub 16 or Hub 32 servers attached through 32Gb Fibre Channel controllers, Facilis Hub One configurations can be fully redundant, with multi-server bandwidth aggregated into a single point of network connectivity. The Hub One starts at 128GB and scales to 1PB.

Pixit Media announced the launch of PixStor 5, the latest version of its leading scale-out data-driven storage platform. According to the company, “PixStor 5 is an enterprise-class scale-out NAS platform delivering guaranteed 99% performance for all types of workflow and a single global namespace across multiple storage tiers — from on-prem for the cloud.”

New PixStor 5 highlights include:

PixStor 5

– Secure container services – This new feature offers multi-tenancy from a single storage fabric. PixStor 5 enables creative studios to deploy secure media environments without crippling productivity and creativity and aligns with TPN security accreditation standards to attract A-list clients.
– Cloud workflow flexibility — PixStor 5 expands your workflows cost-effectively into the cloud with fully automated seamless deployment to cloud marketplaces, enabling hybrid workflows for burst render and cloud-first workflows for global collaboration. PixStor 5 will soon be available in the Google Cloud Platform Marketplace, followed shortly by AWS and Azure.
– Enhanced search capabilities — Using machine learning and artificial intelligence cloud-based tools to drive powerful media indexing and search capabilities, users can perform fast, easy and accurate content searches across their entire global namespace.
– Deep granular analytics – With single-pane-of-glass management and user-friendly dashboards, PixStor 5 allows a holistic view of the entire filesystem and delivers business-relevant metrics to reinforce storage strategies.

GB Labs launched new software, features and updates to its FastNAS and Space, Echo and Vault ranges at NAB. The Space, Echo and Vault ranges got intelligent new software features, including the Mosaic asset organizer and the latest Analytics Center, along with brand-new Core.4 and Core.4 Lite software. The new Core software is also now included in the FastNAS product range.

GB Labs

Mosaic software, which already features on the FastNAS, range, could be compared to a MAM.  It is an asset organizer that can automatically scour all in-built metadata and integrate with AI tagging systems to give users the power to find what they’re looking for without having to manually enter any metadata.

Analytics Center will give users the visibility into their network so that they can see how they’re using their data, giving them a better understanding of individual or system-wide use, with suggestions on how to optimize their systems much more quickly and at a lower cost.

The new Core.4 software for both ranges builds on GB Labs’ current Core.3 OS offering a high-performance custom OS that is specifically used to serve media files. It allows a stable performance for every user and the best from the least amount of disk, which saves power.

EditShare’s flagship EditShare EFS scale-out storage enterprise scale-out storage solution was on display. It was developed for large-scale media organizations and supports hundreds of users simultaneously, with embedded tools for sharing media and collaborating across departments, across sites and around the world.

EditShare was showcasing advancements in its EFS File Auditing technology, the industry’s only realtime auditing platform designed to manage, monitor and secure your media from inception to delivery. EFS File Auditing keeps track of all digital assets and captures every digital footprint that a file takes throughout its life cycle, including copying, modifying and deleting of any content within a project.

Storbyte introduced its eco-friendly SBJ-496 at the 2019 NAB show. According to the company, this product is a new design in high-capacity disk systems for long-term management of digital media content with enterprise-class availability and data services. Ideal for large archive libraries, the SBJ-496 requires little to no electricity to maintain data, and its environmentally friendly green design allows unrestricted air flow, generates minimal heat and saves on cooling expenses.

Echo Flash

The new EcoFlash SBS-448, for digital content creation and streaming, is an efficient solid-state storage array that can deliver over 20GB of data per second. EcoFlash SBS-448 consumes less than half the electrical power and produces a lot less heat. Its patented design extends its lifespan significantly, resulting in a total operating cost per terabyte that is 300-500% lower.

NGD Systems was showing its computational storage product with several system partners at NAB, including at the Echostreams booth for its 1U platforms. NGD said that its M.2 and upcoming EDSFF form factors can be used in dense and performance-optimized solutions within the EchoStreams 1U server and canister system. In addition to providing data analytics and realtime analysis capture, the combination of NGD Systems products and EchoStreams 1U platforms allow for deployment at the extreme edge for use in onsite video acquisition and post processing at the edge.

OpenDrives was showcasing its Atlas software platform and product family of shared storage solutions. Its NAB demo was built on a single Summit system, including the OmniDrive media accelerator, powered by NVMe, to significantly boosts editorial, transcoding, color grading and visual effects shared workflows. OpenDrives is moving to a 2U form factor in its manufacturing, streamlining systems without sacrificing performance.

iX Systems said that their TrueNAS enterprise storage appliances deliver a perfect range of features and scalability for next-gen M&E workflows. AIC had an exhibit showing several enterprise storage systems, including some with NGD Systems computational storage SSDs. Promise Technology said that its VTrak NAS has been optimized for video application environments. Sony was offering PCIe SSD data storage servers. Other companies showing workflow storage products included Asustor, elements, PAC Storage and Rocstor.

Conclusions
The media and entertainment industry has unique requirements for storage to support modern digital workflows. A number of large and small companies have come up with a variety of local and cloud-based approaches to provide storage for post production applications. The NAB show is one of the world’s largest forums for such products and a great place to learn about what the digital storage and memory industry has to offer media and entertainment professionals.


Tom Coughlin, president of Coughlin Associates, is a digital storage analyst and business/technology consultant. He is active with SMPTE, SNIA, the IEEE — he is president of IEEE-USA and active in the CES, where he is chairman of the Future Directions Committee) and other pro organizations. 


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