Storage Trends in Post Production

Tom Coughlin, Coughlin Associates

Post product storage is undergoing big changes.  Content is getting bigger, demanding higher bandwidth and storage capacities.  At the 2016 SMPTE Technical Conference Shigeyuki Yamashita from Sony presented a slide showing the evolution of increasing data rates for professional video cameras.  Today’s 4K cameras can require data rates of 100 Gbps (12.5 GB/s).

storage-trends-1Controlling costs with more and richer content is driving moves to software defined storage, open storage systems, IP based networks and cloud storage in order to avoid having storage costs increase with storage and bandwidth volume.  Here are some observations from the 2016 IBC and SMPTE technical Conferences showing the development of these trends.

Avid’s NEXIS software defined storage platform for storing and managing media leverages the company’s MediaCentral Platform.  Avid NEXIS provides dynamic virtualization, adaptive protection, and media-savvy collaboration so media organizations of all sizes can accelerate production and increase efficiency.  Recent additions to the NEXIS family provide high density and high availability solutions solutions.  In a continued move to a more open editing environment Avid says Avid NEXIS work with the top media creation applications, including including Media Composer, Pro Tools, Apple Final Cut Pro X, Adobe Premiere Pro CC and Grass Valley EDIUS.  Avid also says that NEXIS will work with cloud storage as well as local storage.

Avid NEXIS | E5 is an enterprise-class, hyper-dense storage engine that offers real-time editorial collaboration and the highest levels of scalability, performance, and client connections for large-scale broadcast and post-production environments. Avid NEXIS | E5 provides 40GbE connectivity and 80–480 TB of storage capacity per engine, with the ability to scale up to 1.4PB of capacity and 9.6GBps of bandwidth, supporting more than 2000 Avid DNxHR HD streams or 500 Avid DNxHR 4K streams across over 300 connected clients in a mere 17U of rackspace. The Avid NEXIS hardware family is shown below:

storage-trends-2Avid NEXIS High Availability options increase the reliability and performance of Avid NEXIS E-class storage systems for the most critical deployments. The Avid NEXIS Redundant Storage Controller, Redundant System Director, and Redundant Networking options protect against potential hardware performance issues, while the Media Mirroring option protects an entire Avid NEXIS system against up to five simultaneous disk failures, and even an entire engine failure.

EditShare updated its EFS Shared Storage platform.  According to the company, with this launch, the EFS storage platform enables users to mix and match high performance SSD, performance-optimized HDD, and cost-optimized HDD nodes in any combination. Accompanying this are powerful Storage Goal features and an expanded suite of file protection schemes that enable users to match the degree of fault tolerance with the value of the media assets on a workspace-by-workspace or project-by-project basis.

storage-trends-3With the EFS updates users can dynamically define the combination of storage technology and file protection that is applied to media and project spaces. Within an XStream EFS storage cluster, users can define semi-autonomous Node Groups that can be based on HDD or SSD technology. Previous XStream EFS configurations supported only XOR2, XOR3 and XOR4 file protection schemes that could tolerate the loss of a single EFS storage node.

This latest release adds COPYn protection (a.k.a. mirrored files) that can be configured to protect against multiple storage node failures. Compared to XORn, COPYn protection is computationally less intensive; this characteristic makes it a better choice for high data-rate film captures and for protecting frequently updated files like FCPX project files.

The move to IT based workflows is also showing up in storage networks, although Fibre Channel is still common for in-house post production SANS.  At the SMPTE Technical Conference Usman Shakeel from Amazon Web Services showed their view of how cloud storage can supplement on-site storage, especially for a production archive and geographically dispersed content protection.  AWS also pointed out that geographically dispersed collaboration and remote edits are enabled by cloud storage services.


Ammar Latif from Cisco gave an even more expansive view of using web-scale concepts like container technology in a private cloud storage and remote cloud storage as part of a network content distribution system using virtual

Developments in every aspect of storage technology are finding applications in professional media and entertainment.  SSDs are being combined with HDDs, open storage systems using software defined storage, movement to IP based networks and private as well as public cloud storage are reshaping media workflows.


About the Author

Thomas M. Coughlin, President, Coughlin Associates is a widely respected storage analyst and consultant.  He has over 30 years in the data storage industry.  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, published by Newnes Press.  Tom publishes the Digital Storage Technology Newsletter, the Digital Storage in Media and Entertainment Report, and other reports.

Tom is active with SNIA, SMPTE, IEEE, and other professional organizations.  He is Education Chair for the SNIA Solid State Storage Initiative.  He is Chair of Future Directions for the IEEE Consumer Electronics Society as well as Director for IEEE Region 6.  He is a long-standing member of the CE Society BoG and was Vice President of Operations for three years.  Tom is the founder and organizer of the Annual Storage Visions Conference as well as the Creative Storage Conference. He is the general chairman of the annual Flash Memory Summit.

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