Buzzwords Meet Business Realities at the NAB Show Copy

Mike Palmer
Vice President, Business Strategy

Technology conferences and exhibitions always have particular themes and buzzwords. This year’s NAB Show was no exception, with a lot of talk centering on Virtual Reality. However, one of the most noticeable trends I experienced walking the show floor and talking to attendees was the inevitable onset of “practical reality” upon some of the most-hyped technologies from past years.

Drones are a great example, having received considerable buzz at NAB in recent years. Sure, they were cool and wildly flexible, but coming from a news background, I struggled to see how they could be practical for a local station. I felt from the beginning that multiple drones controlled by several unlicensed operators, all flying over planned or breaking news events, was never going to … well, fly.

This year a few drone makers‡ moved forward by taking a step back, adding an unglamorous but very efficient cable to tether them to the ground. Beyond enabling unlimited power, flight duration and picture continuity, the cable also allows operators to avoid the new FAA requirements that all pilots be licensed. Brilliant! These new drones can now potentially address a much-needed market niche by literally reining themselves in.

IMG_8953Talking to visitors at our booth, we’ve seen a similar shift from effusive excitement to pragmatism with respect to MAM, archiving, and the Public Cloud. The Public Cloud offers great benefits for many applications, but as most media organizations looked deeper into archive costs over the medium to long term, they found that storage of an unlimited amount of archive material for an unlimited time in a Public Cloud is – almost by definition – not cheap.

LTO tape may not be glamorous and exciting, but much like the drone tether, it can make a Private or Hosted Cloud a limited but far more practical archive solution than the Public Cloud. The dramatically increased storage densities offered by newly available LTO-7 tape drives and media have set a threshold for long-term archive storage costs that will remain very, very difficult for Public Cloud providers to beat. There are clearer business cases for using the Public Cloud for applications such as transmission, distribution, and collaborative production. The focus is moving from “do everything in the Public Cloud” to “do in the Public Cloud what it can do best”. Of course, as always, Masstech is fundamentally storage agnostic – and it is very interesting to watch these two technologies, and the customer sentiments toward them, as they mature.

Masstech’s unique strength in seamlessly integrating editing, media management, and archiving once again resonated with NAB attendees, starting even before the exhibition halls opened. This year we had the pleasure of participating in the Avid Connect event where we enjoyed talking with a large number of our mutual customers. Avid Chairman and CEO Louis Hernandez, Jr. showcased one such customer, Sinclair Broadcast Group, during the event’s keynote.  We are very proud of our deep integration with Avid products, which enables video to move through the production process in lock step with scripts and story text.  At Sinclair, Masstech is the common link between all newsrooms, enabling journalists everywhere to share hundreds of Avid clips every week, each with a simple single drag-and-drop.

Our customers have made it clear they want to continue to reduce the number of interface windows, logins, passwords, and clicks users need to do their jobs – and we’ve responded. We received terrific feedback on our new Portal for Avid, which extends our tightly-integrated, drag-and-drop archive, media management, and sharing workflows to individual Avid editing stations. Look for more integration options soon, including HTML5-based plugins.  HTML5 is replacing older plugin technologies such as ActiveX throughout the industry, and will allow us to provide a deeper and more consistent extension of the Masstech user interface and workflows across multiple product lines and vendors.

Thank you to everyone who visited our booth, and a special thanks to a number of our partners who worked with us for a great show: Avid for the Avid Connect event, Datatrend for sponsoring our VIP Celebration, and Disk Archive Corporation for showcasing our solutions in their booth.

‡ Curious about tethered drones? Check out Fotokite and 3DR Hoverfly Tether.