T he cloud era is here. Across many industries, organizations are eagerly implementing private cloud environments and signing up for public cloud services to take advantage of the agility, flexibility, scalability, and cost-saving benefits that this technology can deliver.

But let’s face it—the cloud was not designed for the media industry.

Initially, media organizations, such as post-production studios, saw the tremendous promise of cloud technology. They envisioned cloud-based compute and storage services as ways to accommodate fast-shifting demand for resources and to facilitate collaboration while also avoiding large up-front capital expenditures.

Unfortunately, there were—and continue to be—some obstacles. In particular, the large size of video files makes it time-consuming and costly to move video content to and from the cloud. As more organizations work in 4K and higher-resolution formats, today’s network limitations simply make it impossible for media organizations to do all their work in the cloud. The cloud is often a better fit for organizations that transfer only small files or those with data that is born, lives, and dies in the cloud.

Still, all is not lost. There are actually some great ways that the cloud can benefit your media organization. You just have to know when and how to use the cloud. Let’s take a look at some key phases of a typical post-production workflow to identify where the cloud will—and won’t—work.

Ingest: The cloud can be a huge help when you’re ingesting new content. As new content flows in, you can copy content to a public cloud service to help safeguard that content while your team is working on the original files. If a file is accidentally deleted or becomes corrupted, or there’s some other problem in your production environment, you can retrieve individual files from the cloud and continue working.

Editing and finishing: The cloud is probably not the best fit for work in progress. When your team members are editing or finishing projects, they need high-performance storage connected over high-speed, deterministic networks. Some tasks—like logging or captioning—can be supported through proxy-quality content, but they will still have to conform with higher-resolution content before finalizing projects.

Extended online editing, transcoding, and delivery: For some stages of your workflow—such as captioning, applying sound effects and voiceovers, and transcoding versions prior to delivery—you might want to use lower-cost, lower-performance storage than what you have in your primary production system. Object storage can be a good solution for this type of work. Object storage systems can provide a private cloud repository of immutable content—content that can only be versioned, but not directly modified. Combining an on-site private cloud with public cloud services creates a hybrid cloud where content can be moved smoothly to the service that best suits the current requirements.

Archiving and vaulting: Once you’ve completed a project, you need to move it off your production systems to a more cost-effective storage tier. Whether you need long-term preservation and occasional access (archiving) or very long-term preservation with unlikely need to access (vaulting), cloud storage might be a good, cost-effective choice.

Data protection and disaster recovery capabilities offered as part of cloud storage services can add an extra layer of protection. In addition, if you’re using the cloud for archiving and vaulting, you can take advantage of the latest storage technologies without having to purchase new systems yourself.

There’s one caveat—storing content in the cloud is cheap, but retrieving a lot of content on short notice can be expensive. You might want to keep some archives in data tape libraries to provide faster access without added feeds.

Ready to tap into the cloud?

The cloud is unlikely to address all of your media requirements, but it can still deliver important benefits in post-production workflows, especially when it’s integrated into a multi-tier storage environment. Read our e-book, Lost In The Clouds?, to find out how to match the right kind of storage to each workflow stage, and how the Quantum StorNext® platform can help you incorporate the cloud into your storage environment.

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