Storage on the fly

Posted By Tom Coughlin on October 08, 2015 07:12 am | Permalink

Storing content in the cloud opens up new capabilities and can be addictive. Many media workflows include the use of cloud-based rendering and of course Internet-based content distribution requires that the content be in a connected data center, likely in a content library or active archive. As the amount of video content in the cloud increases even more uses for remote share storage become attractive. Many collaborative projects use the cloud and large Internet file transfers to move content around the world. At the 2015 IBC conference important players in cloud storage and content transport were featuring their offerings.

The figure below from the 2015 Digital Storage in Media and Entertainment Report shows expected growth of cloud storage for many applications. Note that Internet content distribution uses content from a library or active archive. By 2020 we expect that annual revenue for cloud storage in the media and entertainment industry will be over $2.1B.

At the 2015 IBC Aspera announced its Aspera Files Storage as a Service (SaaS) platform for large content share and exchange. This service includes on-demand subscriptions based upon bytes transferred. The service works with IBM Softlayer to help reduce integration costs. The entry level service offer 100 GB transferred for $350 /month. Aspera's FAST Stream is used for live events and can provide a combination of IBM archive storage with APIs geared to the needs of different industries, from media and entertainment to healthcare. Aspera has been involved in many high end video production projects including the FIFA World Cup.

Signiant indicated that the resistance to using cloud storage is declining along with declining prices of cloud storage. They also indicated that many users are doing projects were they rent resources and services rather than owning them. There is a lot of development in moving larger files with 30 minutes of HD video in the 25-60 GB range, while 4K content is even larger. They also indicated that there is a bigger opportunity in OTT video to provide video streams to consumers. Signiant said that they provide a scalable SaaS offering for the company's Media Shuttle that can scale capacity up and down as needed and where customers control storage using their own cloud account (e.g. Amazon) as their storage.

Amazon and Google are both vying to provide cloud storage for the media and entertainment industry.   This year Avere Systems teamed with Google to deliver data processing and storage in the cloud. In addition to various tiers of cloud-based storage Google also offers its Zync render platform for content creators. Amazon Web Services have been used by media and entertainment professionals for several years for digital storage and other services. Many companies use hyperscale data center storage as part of their offerings including Zadera, EditShare and Xendata.

Other companies at the IBC providing cloud-based storage services including Quantum, (with their Q-Cloud Archive) Object Matrix. Many companies make the equipment used for object and other types of storage formats that is common for cloud storage including EMC, NetApp, Oracle, DDN, Quantum, Scality, XOR and many other companies.

Cinergy is a software based service that can provide cloud based service for playout of content . They hav 3K playout capability from Amazon Cloud and they provide an all IP-based TV service. They provide end-to-end workflow MAM for a major broadcaster in Turkey with 400 TB of online assets and 4 PB in a disk based archive. They also provide ingest services for BBC where they were used on Planet Earth. They have been using flash memory for cache but with the decrease in the costs of flash memory they may start using this higher performance storage for more applications.

Akamai is heavily invested in content delivery as one of the largest CDN companies in the world. At the IBC they were demonstrating their Live Workflow Services, On-Demand Workflow Services, Media Delivery Services, Advertising Services, Mobile Delivery and Media Analytics. The figure below shows how storage serves content delivery in a Content Delivery Network both in a central content library as well as storage at edge servers.

The value of shared content in modern video workflows is well established today. In order to be competitive video production and distribution companies must leverage the greater power and economies that using cloud based services, whether private or public can offer them.

About the author

Tom Coughlin, President, Coughlin Associates is a widely respected storage analyst and consultant. He has over 35 years in the data storage industry with multiple engineering and management positions at high profile companies.

Dr. Coughlin has many publications and six patents to his credit. Tom is also the author of Digital Storage in Consumer Electronics: The Essential Guide, which was published by Newnes Press. Coughlin Associates provides market and technology analysis as well as Data Storage Technical Consulting services. Tom publishes the Digital Storage Technology Newsletter, the Media and Entertainment Storage Report, the Emerging Non-Volatile Memory Report and other industry reports. Tom is also a regular contributor on digital storage for

Tom is active with SMPTE, SNIA, the IEEE (he is Director for IEEE Region 6 and active in the Consumer Electronics Society) and other professional organizations. Tom is the founder and organizer of the Annual Storage Visions Conference (, a partner to the International Consumer Electronics Show, as well as the Creative Storage Conference ( He is the general chairman of the annual Flash Memory Summit. He is a Senior member of the IEEE, Leader in the Gerson Lehrman Group Councils of Advisors and a member of the Consultants Network of Silicon Valley (CNSV). For more information on Tom Coughlin and his publications, go to