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Media: The impact of high definition and managing Big Data

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Sharath Kumar
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BANGALORE, INDIA: The Media and Entertainment (M&E) industry not only manages big data every day, it has been dealing with it longer than most other industries. In the last decade, M&E has made a mass migration to digital media formats for audio and video capture, production, delivery, and archive - not just for new content, but also for older, celluloid content to protect it from deterioration and loss, and support contemporary broadcasting technology.

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The explosive growth of digital M&E content is now a global phenomenon, with content that is created, edited, transcoded, and broadcast by thousands of industry participants, large and small, all over the world. These participants include film production companies, post-production houses, TV stations, film broadcasters, video streaming service providers, gaming companies, and Internet media providers.

According to a recent ESG research report, M&E data is growing at 31 per centannually, compared with 24 per centin other industries.1 On average, organizations in the M&E sector also allocate at least 30 per centof their overall IT budgets to storage, an investment that is consistently higher than in other industries.

THE EXCEPTIONAL DEMAND FOR STORAGE CAPACITY, PERFORMANCE AND RELIABILITY

Robust Video Archives for Broadcasting

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With media content rapidly growing in format, size and density, today's M&E companies need storage that can deliver extraordinary capacity and superior performance. High-definition (HD) video, as just one example, requires 6 times the storage capacity to transform a standard-definition (SD) video to high definition. The capacity required for storing and managing digital video repositories is vast, easily requiring terabytes and even petabytes. Furthermore, the standard operation of video broadcast involves complex and repetitive multi-copy delivery, multi-channel broadcasting, video on demand (VOD), and high-volume backup workloads. These activities must run 24 hours a day, 365 days a year. In addition to massive capacity, a video archiving system must also support intensive, frequent video searching and retrieving for daily M&E operations, and always offer robust performance and exceptional availability.

Accelerating Post-Production Workflows

The big data management challenges facing today's M&E companies extend to daily workflows. In contemporary movie-making, it's become common for multiple rendering tools and visual effects applications like CGI, VFX, 3-D and motion capture animation to be used in post-production.

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Indeed, multiple editing teams may be working on multiple pieces of the movie at the same time. To support these workflows, a storage system must be able to support massive data ingest, transfer and retrievals with high performance in throughput and IOPS. Naturally, enormous storage volume is required in order to support this frequent and immense data generation for the entire production process. In the creation of a single HD movie, a studio can easily generate a petabyte of storage capacity, and a 3-D movie generates much more. That's why the capacity and scalability of the storage system are crucial to expedite and accelerate post-production workflows.

Support Increasing Numbers of Endpoint Devices

Many M&E companies are further required to transcode and store their rich content in dozens of file formats to support different types of endpoint devices such as Blu-ray players, televisions and audio docks. Additional file formats are also required to fulfill the demands of audiences who are increasingly consuming media online via, for example, PCs, laptops, smartphones, and tablets. Each file must be tailored for a specific device and offer supporting services, all of which significantly complicates the variety of M&E data types and creates an extraordinary demand for storage capacity. If that's not enough, M&E companies must handle a huge amount of user-generated multimedia content that is delivered via a dizzying array of endpoint devices. This massive volume of user-generated data comes in many formats, and also needs to be stored, archived, viewed and tracked.

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Prolonged Data Lifecycles

TV stations, broadcasters and production companies likewise need to protect their older, celluloid content from deterioration and loss, prolonging the data lifecycle for further development and reproduction. There are now many examples of M&E companies who successfully repurpose their old movies with new enhancements and special effects. This prolonged data lifecycle has a significant impact on the volume of data that must be stored and managed. Additionally, the increasing prevalence of piracy and copyright infringement means that it is essential to protect media assets with digital rights management software that maintains full control of intellectual property.

 

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Specialized M&E Solutions

Several solutions are specifically designed for M&E environments and they require dynamic capabilities to deal with critical big data management challenges in capacity, performance and reliability. These M&E solutions support network attached storage (NAS) and storage area networks (SAN). The solutions span everything from highly scalable and reliable distributed object stores, to high-performance and advanced platforms and intelligent, easy-to-manage storage facilities.

The Continuous Rise of Digital Opportunities

Despite the economic uncertainty of the past few years, global sales of tablets and smart devices have skyrocketed, and data-intensive entertainment such as 3-D and motion-capture movies has become more and more popular. PricewaterhouseCoopers recently predicted that 67 per centof the growth in global M&E spending between now and 2016 will be driven by digital content2. Much more than an expense, digital content is also showing its potential to generate new revenue for M&E companies. There's never been a better time to create a solid yet flexible digital content infrastructure that can help M&E organizations seize these exciting new opportunities.dynamic, all-encompassing portfolio of solutions to help M&E companies grow and thrive is required. With the support of cutting-edge technologies, M&E companies can fundamentally optimize their entire digital workflows - from content creation and processing, to distribution and delivery - to accelerate profitability, drive new growth and equip themselves for even greater success in today's new era of digital entertainment.

Source:

1.ESG Research Report, The Modernization of Data Protection, July 2012.

2.PwC, Global entertainment and media outlook: 2012-2016, http://www.pwc.com/gx/en/global-entertainment-media-outlook/data-insights.jhtml

(The author is General manager, healthcare and Life Sciences, Media & Entertainment and Oil & Gas, Asia Pacific, Hitachi Data Systems)

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