Streamline Your M&E Production Pipeline

Streamline Your M&E Production Pipeline

Posted in tech

Nothing gets M&E hearts pumping like 4K and 8K resolution, stereoscopic and 3D content. VR is growing rapidly, which means more new work for studios, but also rising challenges for M&E IT pros looking to deliver performance while keeping costs in check. While flash eliminates I/O issues, it’s too expensive to be widely used for data that doesn’t really need the performance—and as capacities continue to grow, Tier 1 capacity requirements are straining budgets. In addition to storage I/O, bandwidth is typically limited to 10GbE per device. This is acceptable when just a few artists are using data, but creates problems when post-production is in full swing.

With Siggraph 2017 kicking off in LA July 30th, it’s a great time to examine how DataSphere helps the M&E industry with software that accelerates application performance, simplifies management, and reduces storage costs.

Accelerate Artist Productivity by Increasing Existing Storage Performance

Scale-out NAS systems struggle to keep up with bandwidth demand because they provide an artist or editor’s application with a single shared mounting point to storage using a 10Gb Ethernet network. When multiple artists work simultaneously, there is no guarantee that each user’s application will be mounted to a different share, creating the possibility for contention for bandwidth. This can slow applications, which interrupts artists’ creative flow and also slows content production.

DataSphere eliminates storage bottlenecks to streamline content editing and rendering. With a DataSphere logical cluster, file-granular load balancing can distribute video frame files so that the client can simultaneously access the files in parallel over multiple 10GbE connections across multiple NAS nodes, increasing performance and reducing latency on existing infrastructure. The diagram below illustrates:

Figure 1 - Parallel access across multiple storage devices enables DataSphere to overcome performance bottlenecks of traditional NAS architectures.

For detailed information, see the M&E Solutions page and the blog post, Kick NAS Performance into High Gear.

Simplify Management with Live Data Mobility

To support evolving data demands over the course of the project pipeline, IT teams at some Media and Entertainment companies semi-manually tier data across different NAS clusters. Unfortunately, the complexity of manually managing data at large scale increases the rate of errors. The Uptime Institute estimates that about 70 percent of data center problems are caused by human error. No one wants to be the source of those problems at their studio.

DataSphere solves this problem by automatically moving data with application storage awareness, analyzing application workloads, priority, historical trending, and available storage resources, and comparing real-time activity against business objectives defined by IT and application administrators. DataSphere then automates data management for NFS, SMB, VMware ESXi clients across datacenter and cloud based resources, moving data to the most appropriate resource without application interruption. For example, policies might move less active data and data that has not been accessed in 10 days to lower-cost NAS, while moving data that has not been accessed in 30 days to on-premises object or public cloud storage.

Figure 2 - DataSphere’s intuitive interface gives clear visibility into where and why data is moving, the data’s historical activity and why data was moved to maintain objectives.

For more in-depth information, see the Data Migration solutions page and the blog post, Fix Your NAS Silos with Automated Cross-Storage Tiering.

Reduce Costs through Efficient Capacity Utilization

As 4K and 8K resolutions, stereoscopic and 3D content, and virtual reality productions increase the storage capacities studios require, inefficient capacity utilization is becoming a huge dollar drain. In fact, studios can expect that about 75 percent of data stored is typically inactive, or cold, meaning up to three fourths of a studio’s most expensive storage capacity is being used inefficiently.

DataSphere can automatically move cold data off Tier 1 storage onto on-premises object or public cloud storage, according to IT-defined policy. In the event that data is accessed again, DataSphere will automatically move it back to production resources. Better still, since DataSphere places all data within a global namespace, it maintains access to data moved to cloud/object storage as files. This means that applications do not have to be modified to use retrieved data so the cloud can easily be used as an active archive. It also means that cloud bandwidth files are minimized, as DataSphere can retrieve just the files that are needed.

In addition to optimizing the placement of application data, DataSphere can also automate the movement of backups and snapshots to another location (including the cloud) for disaster recovery and restoration of deleted or modified files. This enables studios to take daily snaps of edits and rendering, and to generate much longer snapshot chains at no additional cost. When data needs to be recovered or restored from a series of older snapshots, they can be easily accessed by snapshot management software, while DataSphere moves the data back to the production environment to complete the recovery entirely automatically.

Figure 3 - DataSphere creates a global namespace that connects different types of NAS storage and the cloud, then automatically places the right data on the right resource to meet IT-defined objectives.

For more detailed information, see the blog post, Fix NAS Waste to Save Storage Budget.

DataSphere helps studios and VFX shops meet the data demands of modern M&E production. It accelerates performance by placing hot data on Tier 1 storage, while eliminating storage silo bottlenecks to enable apps to access multiple storage devices in parallel. Management is simplified by optimizing data placement across heterogeneous storage resources, intelligently, and without application interruption. DataSphere also dramatically reduces costs by freeing the studio’s most expensive capacity of idle data, while enabling studios to tier cold data to on-premises object or public cloud storage as an active archive.

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