I was pleasantly surprised when I visited storage vendors at the National Association of Broadcasters (NAB) convention in Las Vegas. If you’re unfamiliar with the show, suffice it to say that it is massive. It is Las Vegas’ second largest trade show, second only to Consumer Electronics Show (CES). At NAB you can find everything you need to build your own news station or movie production company. Over 1800 exhibitors are divided into the broad categories of pre-production (e.g. script writing), production (e.g. filming), and post-production (e.g. editing). If drones or cameras interest you, spend a lot of time in the production hall. Since I’m interested mainly in storage, I spent most of my time in the Lower South Hall where you’ll find most of the IT behind the post-production process.
A lot of vendors you would expect to be there were. I ran into EMC, Oracle, Quantum, Spectra, DDN, and Pure, to name a few. These traditional storage vendors are marketing to the media and entertainment (M&E) market. But this isn’t why I go to NAB. I go to see products specifically target the M&E space.
Two such products are the Avid Nexis and the Archion EditStor. We had a briefing with Archion the week before NAB, and they told me about how their disk array had 5000 MB/s of bandwidth. That’s right, they publish bandwidth, not IOPs, for their disk array. The same was true of the Avid Nexis storage system, which advertises 800 MB/s of bandwidth per chassis.
This is because the things that are important to M&E aren’t the same things that are important to traditional IT. In the M&E space, the question is how quickly can I dump the 4K or 8K stream my Red camera just created. Editing that file also means quickly moving these gigantic files in and out of memory. IOPs don’t matter anywhere near the same as throughput.
Which is why I was dismayed for several years to find that these M&E specific storage vendors didn’t seem to know anything about data protection. They said the industry didn’t care about backups. That they were too busy editing to worry about something as trivial as backing up the data they live off of. I actually stopped visiting M&E specific vendors for a few years because it was too painful for me to hear such things.
But I’m happy to report that the three such vendors I visited this year seemed to care about data protection. These include Avid, Archion, and StorageDNA – a tape and optical company. All of them seemed to know about snapshots, replication, and even tape-based backups. This means that my friends in the entertainment field can finally get products that tailor specifically to their needs – and help them protect their data as well.
Backups matter. While they may do backups differently in the entertainment space, it’s nice to know that they are finally receiving their due and being incorporated into storage arrays the way we have done for years in traditional IT.