Data protection and archiving measures are more complicated because of this massive video data generation. Data protection typically involves making copies of the original data, and ensuring copies are distributed, both across multiple disk arrays and geographically. This ensures the survivability of the vaulted content and its availability whenever it is required. Typically, nonlinear editing (NLE) post-production storage is a mix of direct and network-attached local storage. Coughlin Associates recently found that 15 percent of participants are now using cloud-based storage in their post-production, and around a quarter of these had more than 1Tb in the cloud.
Recent service outages from cloud providers, such as Amazon EC2, Google and Microsoft, only reinforce the point that even well-tested backup plans can occasionally fail and cause downtime. Although these are becoming less frequent as the cloud model matures, the basic data protection practice of multiple data sets in multiple locations should still be deployed for maximum reliability. Failing to follow these principles can lead to major production delays when the cloud is used in a collaborative workflow and negatively impact the sale and distribution of content to downstream users.
Although the cloud services discussed until now are applicable across various industries, from media and content production to financial and government-use cases, let’s now explore different use cases of the cloud for the media and content production and distribution industry and their networking implications. Focusing on cloud storage, let’s consider three typical use cases: backup/archive, content and I/O. Among the three, each is defined by different parameters, such as I/O specifications, including bandwidth and response time; geographical diversity; annual downtime; and recovery point and recovery time objectives (RPO and RTO).
In the case of backup or archive storage, one can consider how such an approach can help the industry meet vaulting requirements of raw and/or produced content. Given the enormous amount of storage required for applications such as sporting events footage or the next blockbuster hit (tens or hundreds of petabytes of data), the cost savings of cloud storage are extremely attractive. In this case, characteristics such as geographical diversification and recovery consistency and assurance would typically have more influence in the service definition than the bandwidth and response time.
Content storage, on the other hand, could be characterized by higher availability and I/O rates. It also benefits from a certain degree of geographical diversification for storing and distributing large files. Distribution of produced content, such as television programming, movies, trailers and clips to various partners, thus, becomes simplified and more cost-effective. Higher availability here ensures content can be sold and distributed when needed, and in a timely manner with sufficient bandwidth.
A third use case for cloud storage would be better served by I/O storage. Optimized for performance with greater bandwidth, reduced response time and highest availability specifications, with less emphasis on geographical diversification, this type of cloud is primarily geared toward active development. This would be ideally suited to content ingestion and post-production workflow collaboration. When we consider the size of individual video frames (roughly 50MB for 4k frames), this translates into high bandwidth requirements, whether we consider real-time content ingestion (from 1.5Gb/s to more than 12Gb/s for current formats) or faster-than-real-time transfer of stored content using 40Gb/s or 100Gb/s transmission rates. The low-latency characteristic of this type of storage also makes it suitable for online post-production work.
Although the compute offering of the cloud creates an interesting alternate and/or complementary solution for the media and content industry, such as transcoding and watermarking, it relies on the same type of networking infrastructure used for other parts of the cloud offering.