Tag Archives: media and entertainment

Storage Trends for M&E

By Tom Coughlin

Media and entertainment content is growing in size due to higher resolution, higher frame rates and more bits per pixel. In addition, the amount of digital content is growing as increasing numbers of creators provide unique content for online streaming channels and as the number of cameras used in a given project increases for applications such as sports 360-degree immersive video projects.

Projections on the growth of local (direct attached), local network and cloud storage for post apps from 2018 out to 2024.

More and larger content will require increasing amounts of digital storage and higher bandwidths to support modern workflows. In addition, in order to control the costs of video workflows, these projects must be cost-effective and make the most efficient use of physical and human resources possible. As a consequence of these opportunities and constraints, M&E workflows are using all types of storage technology to balance performance versus cost.

Hard disk drives (HDD), solid state drives (SSD), optical discs and magnetic tape technologies are increasing in storage capacity and performance and decreasing in the cost. This makes it easier to capture and store content, keep data available in a modern workflow and, when used in a private or public cloud data center, to provide readily available content for delivery and monetization. The NVMe interface for SSDs and NVMe over Fabrics (NVMe-oF) for storage systems is enabling very high-performance storage that can handle multi-stream 4K to 8K+ video projects with high frame rates, enabling more immersive video experiences.

Industry pros are turning to object-based digital storage to enable collaborative workflows and are using online cloud services for rendering, transcoding and other operations. This is becoming increasingly common because much content is now distributed online. Both small and large media houses are also moving toward private or public cloud archiving to help access and monetize valuable historical content.

Growth in Object Storage for various M&E applications over time.

Various artificial intelligence (AI) tools, such as machine learning (ML), are being used in M&E to extract metadata that allows more rapid search and use of media content. Increasingly, AI tools are also being used for media and storage management applications.

Let’s dig a little deeper…

Storage Device Evolution
HDDs and SSDs are currently the dominant storage technologies used in media and entertainment workflows. HDDs provide the best value per terabyte compared to SSDs, but NAND flash-based SSDs provide much greater performance, and Optane-based SSDs from Intel — and similar soon to be released 3D XPoint SSDs from Micron — can provide 1,000 times the performance of NAND flash. Optical discs and magnetic tape are often used in library systems and therefore have much longer latency from when data is requested to when it is delivered than HDDs. As a consequence, these technologies are primarily used for cold storage and archive applications.

The highest capacity HDDs shipping in volume have capacities up to 16TB and are available from Western Digital, Seagate and Toshiba. However, Western Digital announced that it is sampling nine-disk, 3.5-inch form factor, helium-sealed 18TB drives using some form of energy-assisted magnetic recording and that a 20TB drive will also be available that shingles recorded tracks on top of each other, resulting in higher effective track — and thus areal density — on the disks

Recently Introduced Western Digital 18TB and 20TB HDDs.

Seagate has also indicated that it would ship 20TB HDDs by 2020 using energy-assisted magnetic recording. These high-capacity drives are geared for enterprise applications, particularly in large (cloud) data centers. These drives should bring the price of HDD storage down to less than $0.02 per GB ($20/TB) when they are available in volume.

Both Sony and Panasonic are promoting the use of write-once Blu-ray optical discs for archival applications. These products are used for media archiving by some users, who are often attracted by the physical longevity of the inorganic optical storage media. The companies’ storage architectures for an optical library system differ, but they have worked together on standards for the underlying optical recording media.

According to Coughlin Associates’ 2019 Digital Storage for Media Professionals Survey, hard disk drives and magnetic tape are the most popular digital storage media. The most popular magnetic tape format in the industry is the LTO format.

Solid state drives using NAND flash — and, more recently, Intel Optane — are increasingly being used in modern media workflows. In post, there is a move to use SSDs for primary storage, particularly for facilities dealing with multiple streams of the highest resolution and frame-rate content. These SSDs are available in a wide range of storage capacities and form factors; interface options are traditional SATA, SAS, or the higher-performance Nonvolatile Memory Express (NVMe).

Samsung SSD form factors

Modern NAND flash SSDs use 3D flash memory in which memory storage cells are stacked on top of each other up to 96 layers today, while 128 or more memory cell layers will be available in 2020. Research has shown than 500-plus layers of NAND flash cells might be possible, and, as Figure 10 shows, the major NAND flash manufacturers will be introducing ever higher NAND flash layer devices (as well as more bits per cell) over the next few years.

In 2018, NAND flash SSDs were expensive because of the shortage of NAND flash. In 2019, NAND flash memory is widely available due to additional production capacity. As a result, SSDs have been dropping in price, with a consequent reduction in their cost per gigabyte. Lower prices have increased demand for SSDs.

Modern Storage Systems
Modern storage systems used for post are usually file-oriented (with either a NAS or SAN architecture), although object storage (sometimes in the cloud) is beginning to find some uses. Let’s look at some examples using HDDs and SATA/SAS SSDs, as well as storage systems using NVMe SSDs and network storage using NVMe over Fabrics.

Avid Nexis E2 all-flash array

The latest generation of the Avid Nexis storage platform includes HDD as well as larger SSD all-flash storage array configurations. Nexis is Avid’s software-defined storage for storage virtualization in media applications. It can be integrated into Avid and third-party workflows as well as across Avid MediaCentral and scale from 9.6TB up to 6.4PB. It allows on-demand access to a shared pool of centralized storage. The product allows the use of up to 38.4TB of NAND flash SSD storage in its E2 SSD engine to accelerate 4K through 8K mastering workflows.

The E5 nearline storage engine is another option that can be used by itself or integrated with other enterprise-class Avid Nexis engines.

Facilis Hub

At IBC in September, ATTO announced a partnership with Facilis to integrate ATTO ThunderLink NS 3252 Thunderbolt to 24GbE within the Facilis Hub shared storage platform. The storage solution provides flexible, scalable, high-bandwidth connectivity for Apple’s new Mac Pro, iMac Pro and Mac mini. Facilis’ Hub shared storage platform uses ATTO Celerity 32Gb and 16Gb Fibre Channel HBAs and Fastframe 25GB Ethernet NICs. Facilis Hub represents the evolution of the Facilis shared file system with block-level virtualization and multi-connectivity built for demanding media production workflows.

In addition, Facilis servers include ATTO 12Gb ExpressSAS HBAs. These technologies allow Facilis to create powerful solutions that fulfill a diverse set of customer connectivity needs and workflow demands.

With a new infusion of funding and the addition of many new managers, Editshare has a new next-generation file system and management console, the EFS 2020. The new EFS is designed to support collaborative workflows with up to a 20% performance improvement and with an easy-to-use user interface that also provides administrators and technicians with useful media management tools.

The EFS 2020 also has File Auditing, which offers a realtime, purpose-built content auditing platform for the entire production workflow. File Auditing tracks all content movement on the server, including a deliberately obscured change. According to Editshare, EFS 2020 File Auditing provides a complete, user-friendly activity report with a detailed trail back to the instigator.

EditShare EFS

Promise introduced its Pegasus32 series storage systems. It used Intel’s latest Titan Ridge Thunderbolt 3 chip and can power hosts up to 85W and offers up to 112TB of raw capacity with an eight-drive system. It supports Thunderbolt at up to 40Gbps or USB 3.2 at 10Gbps. It includes HW RAID-5 protection with hot-swappable 7,200 RPM HDDs and dual Thunderbolt 3 ports that allow daisy-chaining of peripheral devices.

Although Serial AT Attached (SATA) and Serial Attached SCSI (SAS) HDDs and SSDs are widely used, these older interfaces — which were based upon the needs of HDDs when they were developed — can restrict the data rate and latency that SSDs would be capable of. This has led to the wide use of an interface that brings more of the internal performance of the SSD to the computers it’s connected to. This new interface is called NVMe, which can be extended over various fabric networks such as InfiniBand, Fibre Channel and, more recently, Ethernet.

NVMe SSDs are finding increased use as primary storage for many applications, including media post projects, since they can provide the performance that large high-data-rate projects require. NVMe SSDs also provide lower latency to content than HDDs, which is important for media pros. With the lower price of SSD storage, their total cost of ownership has declined, making them even more attractive for high-performance applications, such as post production and VFX.

At IBC 2019, Dell EMC was showing its new PowerMax storage system. This included dual-port Intel Optane SSDs as persistent storage and NVMe-oF using 32Gb Fibre Channel I/O modules, directors and 32Gb NVMe host adapters using Dell EMC PowerPath multipathing software.

Dell PowerMax 2000 storage system.

According to Dell EMC, this end-to-end NVMe and Intel Optane architecture provides customers with a faster, more efficient storage system that delivers the following performance improvements:
• Up to 15 million I/Os
• Up to 350GB/sec bandwidth
• Up to 50% better response times
• Sub-100µs read response times
The built-in machine learning engine uses predictive analytics and pattern recognition to automatically place data on the correct media type (Optane or Flash memory) based upon its I/O profile. It can analyze and forecast 40 million data sets in real time, driving 6 billion decisions per day. PowerMax works with several plugins for virtualization and container storage, as well as Ansible modules. It can also be part of a multi-cloud storage architecture with Dell EMC Cloud Storage Services.

Quantum introduced its F-Series NVMe storage system to help media professionals power their modern post workflows.

Quantum F2000 NVMe storage array

It features SSD storage capacities up to 184TB. High uptime is ensured by dual-ported SSDs, dual-node servers and redundant power supplies. The NVMe SSDs allow performance of about one million random reads per second, with latencies of under 20 microseconds. Quantum found that NVMe storage can deliver more than 10 times the read and write throughput performance with a single client compared with NFS and SMB attached clients.

The NVMe SSDs support a huge amount of parallel processing. The F-Series array uses Remote Direct Memory Access (RDMA) networking technology to provide direct access between workstations and the NVMe storage devices. The F-Series array was designed for video data. It is made to handle the performance requirements of multiple streams of 4K+, high-frame-rate data as well as other types of unstructured data.

These capabilities enable editors in several rooms to work on multiple streams of 4K and even 8K video using one storage volume. The higher performance of NVMe SSDs avoids the over-provisioning of storage often required with HDD-based storage systems.

Private and Public Cloud for M&E
Digital media workflows are increasingly using either on-premises or remote cloud storage (shared data center storage) of various types for project collaboration or for access to online services and tools, such as rendering and content delivery services. Below are a few recent developments in public and private cloud storage.

Avid’s Cloudspaces allows projects and back-up media in the cloud, freeing up on-site Avid Nexis workspaces. Avid’s preferred cloud-hosting platform is Microsoft Azure, which has been making major inroads for cloud storage for the M&E industry by providing valuable partnerships and services for the industry.

The Facilis Object Cloud virtualizes cloud and LTO storage into a cache volume on the server, available on the client desktops through the Facilis shared file system and providing a highly scalable object storage cache. Facilis also announced that it had partnered with Wasabi for cloud storage.

Cloudian HyperStore Xtreme

Cloudian makes private cloud storage for the M&E industry, and at IBC it announced its HyperStore Xtreme. HyperStore Xtreme is said to provide ready access to video content whenever and wherever needed and unlock its full value through AI and other analytics applications.

The Cloudian HyperStore Xtreme is built on an ultra-dense Seagate server platform. The solution enables users to store and manage over 55,000 hours of 4K video (UAVC-4K, Ultra HD format) within just 12U of rack space. The company says that this represents a 75% space savings over what it would take to achieve the same capacity with an LTO-8 tape library.

Scality’s Ring 8 is a software-defined system that handles large-scale, on-prem storage of unstructured data. It is useful for petabyte-scale storage and beyond, and it works across multiple clouds as well as core and edge environments. The Extended Data Management (XDM) also allows integrating cloud data orchestration into the ring. The new version adds stringent security, multi-tenancy and cloud-native application support.

Summing Up
Media and entertainment storage and bandwidth demands are driving the use of more storage and new storage products, such as NVMe SSDs and NVMe-oF. While the use of NAND flash and other SSDs is growing, so is demand for HDDs for colder storage and the use of tape or cloud storage (which can be HDD or tape in the data center) for archiving. Cloud storage is growing to support collaborative work, cloud-based service providers and content distribution through online channels. Various types of AI tools are being used to generate metadata and even to manage storage and data resources, expanding upon standard media asset management tools.


Tom Coughlin, president of Coughlin Associates, is a digital storage analyst and business and technology consultant. He has over 37 years in the data storage industry, with engineering and management positions at several companies.

New Boxx workstation features Intel Xeon W-3200 processor

Boxx Technologies, which makes computer workstations, rendering systems and servers, has introduced the Apexx W4L workstation featuring new Intel Xeon W-3200 series processors. This new single-socket processor provides performance increases over previous Intel Xeon W technology. Boxx’s Apexx W4L is purpose-built for rendering, simulation and other GPU-accelerated compute applications.

A new single-socket solution, 28-core (56 thread) Intel Xeon W-3200 processors offer up to 4.6GHz with Intel Turbo Boost Max Technology 3.0, 64 processor PCIe lanes for more I/O throughput for networking, graphics and storage, and new Intel Deep Learning Boost for accelerated AI performance.

In addition to the new Intel processor technology, Apexx W4L features up to 1TB of memory and four Nvidia or AMD professional GPUs, making the workstation ideal for GPU-intensive workloads, including media and entertainment.

Pricing starts at $7,395 and you can expect two to three weeks for delivery.

 

Cloudian HyperFile for object-storage-based NAS

Newly introduced Cloudian HyperFile is an integrated NAS controller that provides SMB/NFS file services from on-premises Cloudian HyperStore object storage systems. Cloudian HyperFile includes targets enterprise network attached storage (NAS) customers, those working in mission-critical, capacity-intensive applications that employ file data. Media and entertainment is one of the main target markets for HyperFile.

Cloudian HyperFile incorporates snapshot, WORM, non-disruptive failover, scale-out performance, POSIX compliance and Active Directory integration. When combined with the limitless scalability of Cloudian HyperStore enterprise storage, organizations gain new on-premises options for managing all of their unstructured data.

Pricing for complete Cloudian HyperFile storage solutions, including on-premises disk-based storage, start at less than 1/2 cent per GB/mo. To simplify implementation, Cloudian HyperFile incorporates a policy-based data migration engine that transfers files to Cloudian from existing NAS systems, or from proprietary systems such as EMC Centera. IT managers select the attributes for files to be migrated and the data movement then proceeds as a background task with no service interruption.

Cloudian HyperFile is available as an appliance or as a virtual machine. The HyperFile appliance is deployed as a node within a Cloudian cluster and includes active-passive nodes for rapid failover, fully redundant hardware for high-availability, and integrated caching for performance.

Cloudian is offering two software versions, HyperFile Basic and HyperFile Enterprise. A HyperFile Basic software license is included with Cloudian HyperStore at no additional charge and includes multi-protocol support, high-availability support and a management feature set. HyperFile Enterprise includes everything in HyperFile Basic, plus Snapshot, WORM, Geo-distribution, Global Namespace and File Versioning.

Pricing for complete on-premises, appliance-based solutions, begins at ½ cent per GB per month. Cloudian HyperFile is available now from Cloudian and from Cloudian reseller partners.

Boxx intros 16-core workstation supporting multi-threaded apps

The new, configurable Apexx 4 6301 workstation from Boxx features the new 16-core AMD Ryzen Threadripper processor, which provides support for multi-threaded apps like Autodesk’s 3ds Max and Maya, Adobe’s CC, Blackmagic’s DaVinci Resolve, Maxon’s Cinema 4D and Chaos’ V-Ray.

Whether rendering complex 3D scenes, encoding or powering simulation and analysis, AMD’s Ryzen architecture allows Apexx 4 6301 users to simultaneously multitask without losing efficiency or performance.

The 16-core Ryzen Threadripper features 64 PCIe lanes, quad channel DDR4 memory and AMD simultaneous multithreading. The Ryzen Threadripper 1950X offers support for 32 processing threads. Apexx 4 6301 also includes up to three pro-grade AMD Radeon Pro WX series or Nvidia graphics cards, and up to 128GB of system memory.

The Apexx 4 6301 is available now with a starting price of $3,931.

NetApp targets M&E workflows with ASE Cloud

NetApp is collaborating with ASE to expand the company’s ASE Cloud to the US, providing flexible cloud access for media and entertainment companies that need high bandwidth to manage massive HD files, which are often 4K and beyond.

ASE Cloud is built on NetApp StorageGrid Webscale, enabling ASE to offer object storage at an efficient cost per Gigabyte. The cloud service enables companies to manage and control their data in a public cloud without data egress fees, all managed through a web portal.

StorageGrid Webscale is a scale-optimized data solution that maximizes control over rich content, enabling secure and fluid movement. The software-defined object storage solution, says NetApp, allows customers to determine where and how their data is stored, depending on where it is in the content lifecycle. The solution also protects customer data with layered erasure coding, which combines node-level and geo-distributed erasure coding to efficiently prevent data loss.

ASE Cloud, powered by NetApp, is now available in the US.

Autodesk restructuring for cloud, subscription model, laying off 10%

Autodesk, via a press release on the BusinessWire, announced a restructuring plan intended to accelerate the company’s move to the cloud and its transition to a subscription-based business model. Through the restructuring, Autodesk seeks to reduce expenses, streamline the organization and reallocate resources to better serve its needs going forward. Part of this reduction of expenses means 10 percent of its workforce will be laid off — that’s about 925 positions — and certain leased facilities will be consolidated.

“As we progress through our business model transition, we continue to take a comprehensive look at our company to see where we can be more effective and efficient. To realize maximum value for both our customers and shareholders, and as a follow-on to previously discussed cost reduction actions, we are restructuring so we can focus resources on areas that will accelerate the move to the cloud and transition to a subscription-based business,” said Carl Bass, president/CEO of Autodesk.

Autodesk expects these actions will result in additional cost savings in fiscal 2017 and beyond, while reinvesting a portion of the savings in areas critical to its platform and business model transition. The company anticipates taking pre-tax charges of $85 million to $95 million in connection with the restructuring. Autodesk also expects to be at the high end or exceed its guidance ranges for billings, revenue, non-GAAP EPS, and net subscription additions for the fourth quarter of fiscal 2016.

“To be clear, the restructuring is not related to anything we are seeing in the macro-economic environment,” continued Bass. “We ended fiscal 2016 on a high note with very strong fourth-quarter billings growth and continued demand for our subscription offerings. Solid revenues, coupled with continued cost-controls, led to better than expected non-GAAP EPS during the quarter. I’m pleased we were able to deliver these results at such a critical moment in Autodesk’s transition.”

Additional details regarding the company’s fourth quarter financial results and restructuring plan will be provided on the company’s regularly scheduled earnings conference call.

postPerspective has questions in with Autodesk asking how this restructuring will affect the media and entertainment side of its business. More to come…

Geoff Stedman on the evolving media storage landscape

Earlier this year, storage industry vet Geoff Stedman came on board as senior VP of Quantum’s StorNext solutions product portfolio. You might remember him from his many years at Omneon and then Harmonic after the company was acquired.

He spent seven years in total there before deciding to try something new: a role as VP of marketing for an enterprise IT storage company, Tintri. After two years the pull of the media and entertainment industry was just too much for him, and Stedman (pictured, above) returned.

Considering Stedman’s background and unique perspective — taking a break from an industry he knows so well and looking at it with a new set of eyes — we decided to pick his brain a bit about storage technology and where it’s headed into the future.

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Sohonet names Chuck Parker executive chairman

London and LA-based Sohonet, a broadband service provider for the TV, film, audio and media industries, has hired Chuck Parker as executive chairman. Parker comes to Sohonet following the acquisition of Unicorn Media (a provider of cloud video ad insertion technology) by Brightcove (a global provider of cloud services for video). Parker was chief revenue officer at Unicorn and then VP of global media sales at Brightcove. For the past year, has has been fulfilling non-executive chairman duties on the Sohonet board.

Previously, Parker spent 15 years at Technicolor where he fulfilled a variety of roles, including chief commercial officer, president of Technicolor’s Broadcast and Digital division and EVP/managing director of Technicolor’s International Home Entertainment division. Parker is also currently the chairman of the 2nd Screen Society, a digital video industry body he founded in 2012.

According to Sohonet CEO Dave Scammell, “Over the past year, [Chuck] has proven to be invaluable in his insight on the industry, and his drive and passion for the business is infectious. As we expand our renowned Sohonet Media Network (SMN) further into the cloud and grow our range of specialist, media-aware IaaS offerings, Chuck will drive these new offerings to market and ensure they are well tuned to the needs of our expanding client base.”

Sohonet recently expanded its Sohonet Media Network to a growing number of cloud providers, including AWS, Google and Softlayer, creating a “fast lane” to the cloud by providing speedy access and reduced charges for all SMN clients. In the last 12 months, the company has expanded services to customers in Singapore, Montreal, Atlanta, Manchester and Amsterdam, and increased its client base in Vancouver, New York and core locations of London, Sydney and LA.

“Sohonet is perfectly positioned to capitalize on the media industry’s continuing demand for better, secure solutions to manage its valuable and ever growing digital assets,” says Parker.

Molly Connolly joins AMD’s pro graphics team

By Randi Altman

Austin, Texas — Industry vet Molly Connolly has landed at AMD as Senior Business Development Manager, Global DCC Market – Professional Graphics.

Many of you might remember Connolly from her days at HP where she held many strategic roles at HP in business development and marketing, focusing on media and entertainment/DCC, virtualization, cloud solutions and strategic alliances with global system integrators and cloud ISVs.

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NetApp and Tekserve reach out to M&E community in NYC

good group shot small

NEW YORK — Over the last 30 days, NetApp has been meeting casually with users and potential users on both coasts. During SMPTE in Los Angeles, they hosted a dinner with CTO/engineers from a variety of large post houses and film studios.

Last week in New York City, they held a cocktail party in conjunction with Tekserve (www.tekserve.com) – the goal was to talk about technology and the needs of the user. Techie types from HBO, Showtime, CBS Sports, Al Jazeera America, Prime Focus and others came together over food and drinks.

Tekserve, a leader in media and entertainment technology that provides workflow solutions and services to companies, is now offering NetApp (www.netapp.com) solutions to the market. “NetApp has a well-deserved reputation for performance and reliability in enterprise storage. We are excited to introduce their new products to the post production and broadcast community in the New York area,” says Tekserve CTO Aaron Freimark.

Jason Danielson, media and entertainment solutions, at NetApp, says, “Tekserve complements NetApp’s media storage portfolio with their trusted expertise at building production SANs combined with their practice in large-scale mobile device roll-outs. We look forward to a successful partnership.”

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