Jean-Luc Chatelain Issue: EMEA 2011
Article no.: 8
Topic: Any content, anywhere, anytime: Redefining video editing,
distributing and archiving for the new generation
Author: Jean-Luc Chatelain
Title: EVP of Strategy
Organisation: DataDirect Networks
PDF size: 286KB

About author

Jean-Luc Chatelain is the Executive Vice President of Strategy in DataDirect Networks. Jean-Luc Chatelain joined DDN in February 2011 with several decades of experience as a technology industry leader. Most recently, as a distinguished Hewlett-Packard Fellow, Chatelain was responsible for successfully leading HP’s Information Optimization strategy, steering the entry of HP into the ILM space. Chatelain has founded Persist Technologies Inc., a leader in reference information storage software which was acquired by HP. Prior to that, Chatelain co-invented the SmartCell™, the world’s first application-centric enterprise storage technology, and created a breakthrough medical imaging workflow technology for Cemax-Icon, which experienced significant growth as a result of this innovation before being acquired by Imation/Eastman Kodak.

Article abstract

The appetite for Content keeps growing and the demands for large capacity, speed of response and immediate availability are all escalating. The storage facilities are at the centre of all content activities – acquisition, production and distribution. Users should spend their time creatively, not battling with navigation and data management. Placing centralised storage in the cloud enables easy access to it from anywhere, making it easy to collaborate globally and provide the desired ‘any-to-any’ capability. The storage must cater for any device, supporting several operating systems that may be utilised in the production and manipulation of the content.

Full Article

Content explosion is about us already. IDC predicts that the amount of digital video content available will grow 40 folds between now and 2020. This is being fuelled by the digitization of film, print and video, and also by consumers who are using video-enabled mobile devices to become content producers in their own right.

In today’s global environment, when news happens, we see it – regardless if it takes place down the street or half-way around the world. Global events are broadcast live on our TVs, our computers and even on our phones. Chances are that the last blockbuster film you saw was not only shot, edited and produced in Hollywood, but by artists and technicians in Mumbai and Hong Kong, as well.

The evolving global world in which we live is forcing broadcasters to modify the ’end-to-end’ systems they are accustomed to dealing with into ‘any-to-any’ scenarios. Media and entertainment companies now have more users and viewers expecting content to be available from any source, at any location, in any format, to any device, anywhere, anytime. More channels require more speed. Higher resolutions require more speed and more storage.

However, with the growing use of file-based video and editing, many broadcasting companies have started to introduce systems based on cloud storage, which not only helps building more collaborative workflows and reduces operating costs, but is also becoming more useful as new media and more channels are used to distribute the same content via web, mobile and IPTV.

Expanding digital content

The amount of content being created, archived and served, coupled with the massive increase in the resolution and formats of content has caused the requirements for storage performance and capacity in the broadcast industry to more than double.

In addition to the proliferation of devices and growing format size, there is a need to migrate from analogue limitations to align with the capabilities available across all dimensions of the digital supply chain. From content acquisition and archiving, to production, to packaging and distribution, the broadcast production process requires a scalable environment and fully automated process orchestration.

Today, broadcasters are building (or investigating) collaborative and distributed content storage infrastructures. Such infrastructures must deliver performance for real-time and multipurpose workflows, to keep up with the demands of today’s rapidly expanding pool of multi-format digital content and broad device delivery strategy.

Managing the digital workflow

Whether broadcasters are reporting breaking news, broadcasting live sports, or hosting and distributing content through the cloud – the digital workflow can be broken down into three main components:

• Content acquisition
• Content production
• Content distribution.

Each function relies heavily on storage and presents its own challenges. Various solutions exist in the market to handle these individual workloads:

• Content acquisition typically requires the ingest servers to be connected to a real time, high performance Storage Area Network (SAN) to ensure an uninterrupted ingest of video streams. It needs to be fault tolerant for added reliability
• Content production environments require access to a high performance Network Attached Storage (NAS) or a SAN system with access to multiple operating systems like Windows, Mac and Linux. Finished content is typically then stored on near-line and proxy storage to be encoded into multiple formats that today’s multi-device audiences demand
• Content distribution play-out servers need access to a real time, low latency SAN to ensure uninterrupted play-to-air. Traditional workflows have required islands of storage to be maintained, increasing management overhead and cost.

Traditional workflows have typically been managed as independent silos, with video content being transported in self-contained systems. This creates fragmented and inefficient workflows, requiring many layers of storage infrastructure and copies of data that also need to be managed throughout the production pipeline. This also causes artists to have to spend time navigating IT tools, data sets and file systems rather than concentrating on producing creative work. Additionally, while individual storage solutions exist to manage each aspect of this cycle, storage administrators then become burdened with managing each system individually.

Media companies need to look for storage solutions that will help consolidate and simplify this workflow, from content creation to distribution and archive, in order to reduce total cost of ownership (TCO) and minimize system and management resources.

In many production environments, there may be hundreds of operators, designers and editors simultaneously using a central storage platform for program creation, editing, sharing and viewing. By moving this central storage system to the cloud, a production editor in Los Angeles can almost instantaneously view the video being uploaded in Mumbai and begin to collaborate and work on it. Another advantage to having broadcast content in the cloud is the ease with which material can be shared and distributed to a multitude of audiences and devices.
Meeting the any-to-any demand

To enable the any-to-any world, storage infrastructure must not only effectively manage the content lifecycle, but also enable organizations to create, manage and reach a broader audience, anywhere.

With the right infrastructure in place, media organizations can not only streamline the production workflow from end-to-end, but also help create new content monetization strategies. Keeping media assets readily available and having the ability to rapidly encode and widely distribute that content globally is the path to monetization. The faster operations can be completed, the more revenue generating projects can be accomplished using the same resource. For example, in an any-to-any, storage based environment, broadcasters can effectively deliver high quality digital content to subscribers on a myriad of devices which helps create a premium experience that many customers will pay more to have.

In cases like sports for example, customers will pay for premium services where highlights are available within seconds of the live event—whether it is on their TV, their computer or mobile device. DDN customer Mediaset is Italy’s first, largest and fastest growing commercial broadcasters and Videotime SpA is a Mediaset subsidiary that produces and manages the company’s TV productions. Its library has one petabyte online, one petabyte backup, and it is adding one petabyte every year. Having a storage centralized production environment allows Videotime Sports to have up to 300 users on its library system at any one time, enabling quick access and deployment of rich, live content to subscribers and passionate sports fans who crave in-the-moment and instant replay action.

Some broadcast engineers pride themselves in building systems from scratch, and building a mass storage system on a local workbench is not out of realm of possibility. However, it might not be the best solution. Several factors should be considered before choosing the do-it-yourself (DIY) option. Obviously, budget is an issue, and at first glance DIY may appear to be the least expensive. However, in the long run, the DIY approach may prove to be the most expensive.

IT decision makers should also ask other due diligence questions about the control systems, demands and predicting the need, in x-bytes, for online, near-line and offline storage for their particular production flow environments. Not only must managers carefully identify and document their present requirements, they also need to do as much research as possible to predict future requirements. Answering these questions will guide managers in determining the size and speed their facility demands.

Conclusion

With placing storage at the heart of a production environment, companies can streamline workflow by enabling access to centralised storage for shared projects. This helps keeping artists productive and ensures the production deadlines are met, while reducing OPEX. Having a storage-centred workflow not only helps broadcast organizations streamline the content lifecycle, create a collaborative work environment and meet production deadlines, but it can also:

• Reduce storage costs by keeping all media assets in one centralised repository and only pay for additional capacity as the library grows;
• Simplify management and reduce TCO by minimizing system and data management resources;
• Hit tight production deadlines by building a collaborative workflow to simply and easily share content across the globe;
• Reduce turnaround time for live events and win incremental business; and
• Broadcast in next-generation resolutions to any device to maximize revenue and reach.
Organizations that work to future-proof their business for tomorrow’s growing format and device requirements by building a collaborative and distributed content storage infrastructure will gain a competitive edge in this rapidly changing, highly competitive market space converged landscape.