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Future of media in a flash: The intersection of content, technology and user experience

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The media and entertainment industry is adapting to the technological developments and storage solutions are best suited for them in order to be able to ensure high performance, and at the same time address the ever changing needs of their consumers

The Indian media and entertainment industry has always been a growing sector for the economy and this growth continues to take high strides. There has been a gradual shift towards the use of digital recording, production and delivery in the past few years. This digitization has led to the generation of enormous amount of data of high resolution which requires extremely sophisticated storage solutions to deliver it effectively.

In order to understand the demands of the direct-to-consumer world, and to get a better idea about the audiences, predict their viewing, and offer content that addresses what consumers want, when they want it, and how they want it, a lot of the big players in the media industry have swiftly adopted the latest storage technologies and data analytics tools. Rising media streaming giants have acted as major disruptors in the market place, but not simply because of the development of new content delivery systems but also because of their aptitude for creating unique, original, consumer-driven content. To survive this evolving ecosystem, media companies are heavily investing in new IP, development, production and infrastructures to keep afloat.

The need to create more

A recent report by PwC on the media and entertainment industry trends of 2016 identified the need for networks to increase the content and number of shows that they are producing. Innovation is becoming the top priority of this industry and this innovation is focussed on the intersection of content, technology and user experience. Today’s content is largely defined by cutting-edge production and  post-production, including the advent of higher resolution platforms like 4K, more collaborative and global edit workgroups, enhanced visual effect and animation capabilities, and the revival and monetization of archived content.

The content within the media production workflow is generally stored on disk and tape based storage systems. The increasing explosion of data is making it difficult for large production houses, independent filmmakers and entertainment giants to cope with; this is increasing the already existing pressure on their infrastructures.

As an example, over-the-top (OTT) services – content distributed through the Internet, without the need for traditional cable or satellite TV subscriptions — are a rapidly growing market and also one of the most taxing workloads for a datacentre. Trying to stream video flawlessly to millions of people around the world without lag time or buffering requires powerful storage equipment with extremely good performance, high-capacity and reliability, which can be found in both Flash and disk-based systems.

The immense demands of data have led the M&E industry to adopt petabyte-scale solutions to stay ahead of demand and at-scale storage needs and provide a consistent experience. OTT services are always working to improve their infrastructure with ever increasing user bases and video libraries. One interesting result of this evolving business model is that of content replay strategies like Netflix Revivals.

Two technologies that are contributing to immense traction in this direction for production houses is Flash, for fast, reliable content editing and delivery, and at-scale (easily scalable) cloud-based systems to store and archive massive amounts of high-definition content and files for future use and monetization.

Understand the Demographics

Creation of shows is dependent not just on the high quality of production but also on the medium utilized for storage. Recently, big data mining has emerged as a strategy being adopted by programmers that helps them to identify demographics for their show in a more accurate and efficient manner.

Mining data for these insights would continue to get more refined as these media houses evolve the process of collecting and analysing the data to create “perfect” TV shows. Once the type of show is identified for production the next steps would include securing actors, storylines, directors and producing the content using today’s high definition formats. This whole procedure would require high performance and massive capacity for everything from camera acquisition, editing to online/near line storage.

Both Flash and hard disk drive-based solutions have a place in this workflow. With Flash, the editors can efficiently move through the content and make edits to produce a high quality product in a fraction of the time. All Flash storage arrays are also ideal for high-performance analytics, video streaming and content delivery.

Meanwhile, petabyte-scale archiving solutions based on object storage provide the best TCO by offering the lowest acquisition costs and power requirements per terabyte, along with the highest capacity and density.

As we gradually move towards a world with exploding content, the importance of storage infrastructures increases more than ever. The delivery, storage, management and monetization of the content to millions of consumers who wish to watch this data at different times of the day would allow these M&E companies to capitalise on these fan-centric opportunities. New innovative storage technologies have provided them the ability to create popular revival shows, reduce production times and improve the efficiency of their workflow.

Authored by Erik Weaver, Global Director of Market Development for M&E at Western Digital and Mr. Vivek Tyagi, Director for India business development, SanDisk brand Commercial sales and Support at Western Digital Corporation

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