In this age of digital information outburst, managing the expanding digital media data assets has become a serious concern. Storage users and IT managers in the media and entertainment industry feel the full weight of the data management burden, as digital content and TV production workloads demand increasing compute and storage horsepower. The evolution of motion picture, and HDTV technologies, including the reality of high-frame-rate (HFR) 3D and 4K TV, exacerbate data management challenges that can, at times, seem overwhelming.

Evolving technologies play a large part in driving need for expanded storage capacity. Systems now must accommodate thousands of simultaneous users across hundreds of compute and storage nodes.

Just as the industry moved from analog tape to digital tape for data preservation, many top studios are transitioning to scalable object storage to meet growth demands and enhance key asset infrastructure, data durability, and resiliency. Media asset managers (MAMs) help manage and orchestrate digital assets. MAMs are available in many types for on-premises and/or cloud usage. Awareness of and information about assets in the form of metadata allow users to easily determine how to most efficiently use their assets to support specific business strategies.

Digital Workflows

Digital workflows continue to get more complex as technology advances. Consider the workflow example illustrated in the accompanying figure. From ingest to playout, media content is touched in many steps, creating various intermediate versions of the digital media that must be stored and managed. This workflow can quickly overrun typical local storage systems and the capabilities of basic cloud content storage like Box, DropBox, and Google Drive. Professional digital content providers require large, scalable, object-storage systems managed by the latest MAM software that easily integrate with the cloud.

Hybrid Cloud Workflow

The user needs the right tools and infrastructure to take advantage of the move to the cloud. All businesses, including digital content creators within the media and entertainment industry, are moving to or considering a move to the cloud. When considering storage systems and MAM software, both need to be cloud compatible.

A few out-of-the-box object storage systems that transform silos of data storage into cloud-scale active archives are fully cloud optimized and support the cloud storage services, which allow the archive system to plug easily into an on-premises private cloud configuration or a hybrid-cloud design. The hybrid design allows for efficient ingest and post-production activities and provides an onsite content archive for all media. User can then use the public cloud to provide compute power to transcode and efficiently distribute the final product.

A hybrid cloud allows the user to keep their most precious asset – raw content – close and available on high-speed internal network while taking advantage of the cloud provider's connection to the Internet for distributing final content. A cloud-compatible MAM can manage all data, metadata, workflows, and distribution in a single application, and any out-of-the-box object-storage system that transforms silos of data storage into cloud-scale active archives can provide all scalable storage required by a cloud-compatible environment.

Most MAM software providers still focus on file-based workflows that can limit the adoption of cloud-based production. Many of the MAM providers try to solve this problem by patching or adding customized connectors to their solutions with varying degrees of success. Another alternative is to install a hybrid cloud-NAS (network-attached storage) solution to translate file-based storage requests to cloud-based requests.

The Content Explosion

In media and entertainment industry not only is the sheer volume of content exploding, but the size of the content is increasing as well. As video formats change with each new resolution jump, files' sizes increase dramatically. The move from SD to HD, then 4K, then 8K video formats causes large file size increases for the same video content. Each step up in resolution creates a 4 increase in density and file size of the video content. An 8K format version of any content, like a movie, would use up 46.5 TB of storage capacity. Then when adding the multiple transcoded formats for each movie with different screen sizes and distribution methods, the amount of content storage for a single movie can easily exceed 100 TB.

Exponentially increasing file sizes require a storage system that can manage both small and large files that scale easily as content continues to grow. Out-of-the-box object storage system that transforms silos of data storage into cloud-scale active archives provides the answer and many companies have developed and are advancing in such archiving systems for simplifying the work flow.

Data and Metadata

Not only must users manage content, or data, with the MAM, but they must manage the data that describes the data, commonly known as metadata. This information can be as important as the content itself. Without the context of the metadata, the importance of the original content is lost over time. The same is true for digital content creation. Content maker should know and preserve the details of all steps of the content workflow, from ingest to editing and transcoding to final playout, and should provide information for the context of the content.

Metadata can be automatically created and manually created. Today's cameras automatically create a tremendous amount of data about the video or images they capture, such as aperture, frame rate, shutter speed, and more. Non-linear editing (NLE) software also provides a tremendous amount of automated metadata that is captured by MAM systems.

Creating manual descriptive metadata provides the opportunity to gather detailed information about what is occurring onscreen, as opposed to technical or operational metadata. This detail can include information about characters, onscreen actions, and scene breaks. A robust MAM is capable of capturing all of this metadata, automatic and manual, and provide tools for searching and research, product development, and analytics that distributors, movie houses, cable companies, and viewers can use to enhance their viewing experience.

Increased metadata creation puts pressure on the storage infrastructure as much as – or even more than – the actual content itself. Having a scalable, object-oriented storage system with a powerful MAM is critical for modern digital content creation. The ever-growing amount of data in the media and entertainment industry puts stress on existing production and storage infrastructures, requiring an MAM to track all content, data, and metadata generated at every step of the workflow. One answer to the problem is to use a cloud-compatible MAM, which allows a hybrid cloud solution with local, on-premises storage managing raw content and content in mid-production. This critical component keeps content close and accessible to improve workflow efficiency. Integrating with external cloud providers, like AWS (Amazon Web Series), provides the efficiency of finalizing any content for various methods of consumption and distribution, and a hybrid cloud solution relieves the stress by implementing archive systems working in conjunction with a cloud-compliant media asset manager.