I f you’re in the media and entertainment industry, 4K is a term now nearly as ubiquitous as HD. And if your organization does post production, broadcast or content distribution, odds are you are already working with 4K media, according to a new survey from Quantum and postPerspective.

But is your storage environment prepared for the challenges of this high-resolution format?

In this newly published survey, respondents clearly recognize that their existing storage solutions will need modification to accommodate growing volumes of large 4K files. The key questions, however, are how much of their existing architecture needs to be augmented, and can they do it in a manner that does not exceed already stretched IT budgets.

Here are three key insights from the survey:

  1. 4K has gone mainstream

The vast majority of survey respondents—79%—are currently working in this high-resolution format. Another 7% will be working in 4K within the next year. Only 10% are unsure about their 4K future.

Why have so many organizations made the move? It’s simple really—there is more demand than ever for high-resolution media content. Whether viewers are watching media clips on their smartphones, sports on their widescreen TV or big-budget movies at the mall cineplex, they increasingly expect to see stunning visual content displayed in ultra-high resolution. Fortunately, the tools for capturing, editing and delivering 4K video are becoming more affordable, thanks to file systems like StorNext aggregating the maximum amount of performance from the underlying storage arrays. Ultimately, it is technologies such as this that are enabling a full range of studios to transition to this format.

Even those organizations that aren’t delivering 4K masters can benefit from 4K. Working with 4K video during production and post production can yield higher-quality HD and SD files. It also enables studios to easily remaster their work in 4K in the future.

  1. Cost is a top concern

4K content—which is often captured at high frame rates, dynamic ranges, and color depths—generates very large files. Studios need storage performance that can provide a real-time experience for post-production team members as they work with such files. And at the same time, studios need the scalable capacity to store and provide reliable, ready-access to these files throughout the post-production process.

For survey respondents, cost was a top concern as they contemplate the storage solution upgrades needed to accommodate these more demanding workflows. One question in particular respondents seem to be struggling with is how to add both capacity and performance while keeping costs under control. One potential solution is having a storage environment that allows for incremental upgrades that can be independently focused on either performance or capacity. Another solution is capitalizing on multiple tiers of storage to better optimize the balance of cost, capacity and performance.

  1. Cloud is not quite as popular as you might think

On the surface, adopting cloud storage might seem like a good way for post-production studios to accommodate growing demand for capacity while controlling costs. But only 31% of survey respondents are currently using cloud-based solutions.

While the cloud might work well for archiving, studios recognize the limitations of cloud services for many post-production functions. Approximately 30% of respondents reported that storage and retrieval times are the primary obstacle to using the cloud—editors simply can’t wait several minutes for clips to download in the middle of an editing session.  Furthermore, respondents also noted that security is another concern, and therefore favor the benefits of having an offline, yet on-premise, copy of data.

Interestingly, 17% of respondents reported that the cloud is too expensive or doesn’t provide a sufficient return on investment. Clearly some studios are recognizing that while shifting from a CapEx model to an OpEx model can be beneficial, it does not necessarily yield lower costs in the long run.

Prepare your storage environment for 4K

The above is just the tip of the iceberg regarding new insights this survey has provided. To dig deeper and uncover additional valuable information, download the e-book.

Whether you’re contemplating a move to 4K or ready to upgrade your storage to accommodate your existing 4K workflows, Quantum can help. Download our 4K reference architecture white paper to learn how our reference architectures can help you design the right storage environment for your unique needs.

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