Digital content specialist Quantum is expanding its portfolio to improve the support for unstructured data throughout the content lifecycle, Senior Director - Product Management Eric Bassier tells David Davies.
This year is going to be one for the record books for all kinds of reasons – not least the fact that it has strongly underlined several developing trends that are going to shape the Media & Entertainment sectors for decades to come.
Eric Bassier, Quantum’s Senior Director – Product Management, pinpoints the interconnectedness between some of the primary trends when he notes that “in broadcast, post and elsewhere, M&E customers are dealing with more and more video content where the lifecycle of the data and the workflows themselves are becoming more complex. At the same time, many companies are adapting to having a more distributed workforce that will be making greater use of the cloud – and that has implications for data as well.”
It’s into this challenging production environment that Quantum is introducing an expanded portfolio that supports the classification, management and protection of unstructured data across its lifecycle. Announced by the California-based firm this week, the new solutions collectively acknowledge that the effective management of data end-to-end – on premise or in the cloud – is now at the top of the priority list for the majority of broadcasters and content creators.
The move towards more distributed data workflows – a trend that has undoubtedly accelerated during the pandemic – has implications for the complete data lifecycle. Now and in the future, continues Bassier, “there is going to be a lot more data movement. In addition, there is a challenge in media and other companies that we are starting to call ‘the forever content archive challenge’. This involves answering questions such as ‘How long do we need to store and protect and preserve this really valuable digital content?’ and ‘What should happen to this content if it is no longer desirable to keep it in the cloud?’”
Hence a raft of new developments intended to help customers use data in such a way that they can manage their content more easily and efficiently whatever their individual roadmaps. There are three key aspects to the expanded portfolio; a Version 7 incarnation of the Quantum StorNext file system software; a smaller-capacity, three-node addition to the ActiveScale Object Storage series; and a brand new software platform for integrated data classification, Quantum ATFS (All-Terrain File System).
Building forever content archives
Bassier begins his overview by addressing the latest developments with the two existing product lines: “We believe that the right way to build a ‘forever content archive’ is on an object store. It makes sense to retain this content in object format because it makes it easier to search and index; it’s also cloud-friendly. That is why we set out to acquire ActiveScale earlier this year [purchased from Western Digital in February 2020] as we believe object storage is a key technology for this. StorNext and ActiveScale already had, and continue to have, very tight integration, so our customers can do their production and near-line editing out of StorNext where they need that very high performance. Then the StorNext data management software will move those projects to and from ActiveScale. We think that is a very good tiered architecture for many workflows.”
Among the improvements delivered by StorNext 7, Bassier highlights the inclusion of “new ways to optimise the use of NVMe [Non-Volatile Media Express storage protocol] for very high performance steps in the workflow, such as rendering, editing, and finishing in 8K and very high frame-rate. NVMe excels at that and with version 7 we have made it easier for customers to use NVMe as part of the production environment.”
Quantum has also take steps to “improve communication” between StorNext and ActiveScale, while the latter range has been joined by ActiveScale P100 E3, described as a “lower-end object storage system that allows companies who don’t require as much object storage capacity at the beginning to get in at a lower price and capacity point, then scale from there [as required].” Additionally, the latest version (5.7) of the ActiveScale OS adds Object Lock, which is designed to protect against ransomware and makes objects “undeletable and unmodifiable” for a specific period.
With a view to the fact that broadcasters are seeking to make greater use of the cloud – not least due to increased remote working by production staff – Quantum is also introducing the ATFS new file-based storage platform. Designed to be easy to deploy and suitable for use with any storage media, ATFS can scale to billions of files and seamlessly extend to the cloud. Delivering up to 12 GB/s performance, the platform supports instant data tagging on ingest; real-time search and analytics; instant location and retrieval of files; and automated data placement based on workload.
Read more Whitepaper: The Forever Content Archive
Explaining its position in the Quantum portfolio, Bassier describes ATFS as a file storage system geared towards more general purpose network storage as opposed to “very high performance workflows” where StorNext would be more appropriate. Utilising ATFS presents these customers with the opportunity to “classify and tag data, and unlock a bunch of useful capabilities” – including the facility to visualise, automate and place data in the right place, at the right time.
In terms of Quantum’s own market positioning, these new launches promise to stand the company in good stead as the growth of content services – and thus the demand for streamlined data management – continues apace. The decentralised nature of the Quantum business has meant that the pandemic “hasn’t really had much impact” on its operations, but Bassier is acutely aware of the challenges that it has brought for many broadcasters.
With live content reduced due to Covid-19 and archive material playing a greater role in 2020 programme schedules than for some years, it has also been an ideal moment for broadcasters to assess their approach to content management. For Quantum, indicates Bassier, this translates to an ongoing strategy that “strives to deliver a consistent customer experience – whatever the workflow or infrastructure that is being used.”
For more information on Quantum’s latest products and projects, please visit www.quantum.com.