There are many types of digital files, and there are almost as many ways to store them. In the world of video-based media and entertainment, for example, a piece of content goes through many stages and iterations, and at each stage there may be a different, more optimized way to store and access it: it may be stored in different formats, and copies of it may be transcoded to different bit rates and file sizes; it may have different intrinsic value at different times in its life, for example as a news clip whose value declines with the age of the story; through its life-cycle it will be required at different times, at varying frequencies, and by different departments and organizations. Each of these factors will influence the ideal storage in which it should reside at that time
These differences in the properties of a piece of content often mean that where it is stored in Phase I of its life-cycle may not be the best location for it when it enters Phase II, or III or XI. Not all types of files benefit in the same way from the same storage, and therefore having the right storage mechanism for the right type of data is critical.
For some organizations, it’s feasible that a single storage tier may provide optimized storage; however, if you’re dealing with many different assets, of many different types requiring multiple operations during its life-cycle, there’s a good chance that a storage environment made up of only one type – whether that’s on-prem only, or Cloud-only – won’t be the most suitable for every iteration of every piece of content that you process. Multiple storage tiers allow you to store content with different properties in a more suitable storage layer; the greater the number of storage tiers, the more optimized your storage. This is the key advantage of the hybrid environment.
What is a Hybrid Environment?
In storage terms, a hybrid environment is one comprised of a mixture of storage media types; we also refer to these different types as ‘layers’ or ‘tiers’. Each storage layer has benefits and drawbacks: some provide faster access at higher cost, others claim longer-term media integrity, or offer low-cost storage at significantly reduced access speeds.
In general in an M&E environment, the four major tiers* are:
Nearline disk – spinning disk, usually in the form of rack-mounted disk arrays, most often attached directly or more commonly via a network to a production system, or a MAM, editing suites and other broadcast-centric equipment.
Tape – one or more tape libraries comprising multiple slots containing cartridges and one or more drives used to read and write data to and from the cartridges.
Optical – removable storage, also usually in the form of a library, containing optical data cartridges and drives rather than tape.
Cloud – network storage. This can be in the form of a network that is contained within the organisation and/or its affiliates, known as Private Cloud; or in a network hosted by a third party, accessed via a connection to the internet, known as Public Cloud.
* It can be argued that there are many more storage types, but generally these are sub-sets of the four key storage layers.
The type of environment that you build to store your content depends on many things: cost, speed,
security, business continuity, replication requirements – all of these are factors and requirements that need to be considered and catered for. Each storage type addresses these in different ways, with varying degrees of success, and each has its pros and cons. It is important that you have the right conversations, with the right people, in order to analyze your requirements and to design and implement the most optimized storage environment possible.
At Masstech, we know M&E storage. We have many decades of experience in designing, implementing and supporting broadcast-focussed storage systems, and over 400 organizations around the world entrust their data to our management. Masstech solutions are flexible, scalable and extremely secure, and integrate seamlessly with all of the biggest vendors in M&E.
Masstech is also the only truly agnostic storage vendor in the industry, which means that you can trust us to give you honest, unbiased advice on the ideal storage environment for you – that’s The Masstech Difference.
Contact us to find out how we can help you build your most optimized storage environment.