NAB: Archiving, clouds, collaboration and digital storage

Posted By Tom Coughlin on April 17, 2011 09:29 pm | Permalink
By Tom Coughlin

The 2011 NAB show was the usual colorful collection of 3D display technology, antennas, editing and digital asset management platforms, etc. Digital storage as always plays an important role in many of the booths. This probably explains why digital storage products are found in every hall of the NAB show. This leads to a lot of footwork by someone who tracks the use of digital storage in media and entertainment.

The North Hall featured digital tape products, including the LTO Consortium, IBM and SpectraLogic, as well as companies offering digital asset management and content preservation services, such as Front Porch Digital. Additional tape products were shown in the Central and South Hall, including those by Cache-A and Oracle. LTO 5 offers a file system called LTFS that should have many uses for media and entertainment archived content with the advances in digital workflows. Cache-A has leveraged LTFS for a complete archive appliance using the tape file system. Companies offering archiving software at the NAB included Atempo, CET and XenData.

Cloud storage for media and entertainment is emerging as a tool for collaborative workflows and content repurposing that can span continents and time zones. Companies showing products including cloud storage included DataDirect Networks, NetApp, Nirvanix, SeaChange, Tata Communications and Technicolor. This is a growing area for this industry as media producers try to lower their costs and increase their flexibility both for post-production as well as content distribution. The companies also point to the use of cloud storage as part of a library archive system for active content distribution for professional as well as consumer use.

Avid, BlueArc and Isilon (now part of EMC) offered storage systems for high end as well as mid-range media and entertainment applications. The growth in demand of smaller media facilities is attracting interest and new products by these well known companies to address a market that has been largely served through VARS and system integrators. The shut-down of Sony’s professional media products plant due to the March earthquake and tsunami is causing many facilities to accelerate plans for a move to a digital workflow, leading to purchases of storage systems tailored to this market

The end of Apple’s XServe product earlier in 2011 caused much anxiety among post production facilities that had built their storage system infrastructure around Apple’s XSan and XServe. Many companies at NAB offered support to these stranded storage system users. StorNext (part of Quantum) has emerged as the OS of choice for XServe replacement products. XServe metadata controller replacement products using StorNext included Active Storage and Promise Technology. SAN Solutions was also offering its ArtiSAN Metadata Controller as an XServe replacement system.

Many other companies offered storage solutions, including direct attached storage systems and SAN and NAS storage systems. The media and entertainment market has an insatiable desire for digital storage and this shows no signs of abating.

Peter Jackson’s “The Hobbit” scheduled for release in December 2012 is said to be shot in 48 frames per second, using Red 5K Epic cameras in stereo. Petabyte workflows will shortly become the norm in larger creative projects, and the growth of digital workflows in TV production and distribution will swell the growth in storage demand as well.