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How the Media and Entertainment Industries Are Changing Their Ideas About Data Storage

The media and entertainment industries have seen a dramatic increase in demand for data storage, especially flash.

Todd Wasserman | The Guardian

If the entertainment industry gave awards for storage, then flash would be a shoo-in for best supporting actor.

Flash technology is now in 66 percent of professional cameras, replacing magnetic tape and film.

That’s quite a reversal from just six years ago when flash was just emerging as an alternative to spinning disks and many professional cameras were still using magnetic media.

Among enterprises, flash-based media usage is in the low single digits, but in the gaming and entertainment categories, it has a much stronger foothold.

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Flash has gotten much cheaper in recent years.

Patrick Osborne, senior director of product management and marketing for Hewlett Packard Enterprise’s storage business, says that as graphics on gaming and animated movies have become more advanced, there has been a corresponding increase for processing power and memory.

“These companies are literally working with millions of IOPS (input/output operations per second) and billions of files,” he says.

“It’s a huge requirement, so flash is one of those products that a lot of customers have been using to keep up with the amount of computing they use to create a rich product.”

The growth of flash is one of several storage trends in the media and entertainment space that Osborne noted recently.

Others include a dramatic increase in demand for storage in general and cloud computing, which provides the opportunity to work with a geographically dispersed team.

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Flash is ready for its close-up

Flash, which is known for its durability plus its fast access time, has gotten much cheaper in recent years.

Breakthroughs in technology have increased storage capacity to the point that some expect such flash-based solid-state drives (SSDs) to reach cost parity with spinning disks in the next few years.

That’s good news for the entertainment industry, Osborne says.

“Some of the workloads are very unpredictable because the amount of processing that’s needed. It’s a very taxing I/O pattern. From a performance point of view, flash far outstrips anything we’ve been able to do in the past with spinning disks. It really gives you a completely different envelope for performance.”

As a result, for media companies, “This is a once-in-a lifetime media change,” he says.

Object-oriented storage

By one estimate, the media and entertainment industry’s storage needs are expected to grow 24-fold between 2014 and 2020. As a result, Osborne says, many are turning toward object-oriented storage instead of traditional file system storage.

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Projects can be created with workers scattered all over the globe.

“Most of the data is stored as unstructured data. The sheer volume of all the files and objects—regardless of whether they make up fully rendered movies or drawings—result in increased capacity needs,” he says.

“Scale-out architectures that will give you capacity at scale that goes into the petabytes is becoming very pervasive too.”

The appeal, Osborne says, is that “I can scale from 50-100 terabytes using very dense storage servers and then scale them horizontally to make a very large object storage repository.”

An animated feature film usually takes up hundreds of terabytes of space.

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Collaboration in the cloud

Finally, the cloud has allowed for completely distributed environments, meaning projects like films and games can be created without a central office and with workers scattered all over the globe.

“It happens all the time, where you do a shoot in New York and you need to get those files to L.A. and you have artists and people who work in Toronto or Bangalore—we see a lot of that,” he says.

The industry moves ahead

In general, the media and entertainment industry is “pretty technology-forward” and aware of the solutions available. “It’s on us to get our solutions in front of them,” he says. goldbrown2

This article originally appeared on HPE Matter and was republished with permission. 

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Todd Wasserman is a writer for The Guardian and HPE Matter.

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