Video Blog: 2014 NAB Impressions

Video Transcript

I spent last week with 100,000 of my best friends at the National Association of Broadcasters Show, or NAB. It is a huge show. My colleague, Bryant Doherty, and I we walked about six miles a day according to my trusty Fitbit. I started going to this show years ago, because media & entertainment's one of those bleeding edge use cases where new storage technologies are adopted because they can create a competitive advantage. And, in fact, when you think about it we wouldn't even have these amazing animated movies and special effects that we enjoy today on the big screen if it weren't for the ability to store and share really large files, or pieces of files, then serve them up to Render Farms to be assembled and made ready for viewing.

There's a lot of bandwidth required to handle these types of work flows. Media & entertainment, it is big data. It creates some serious capacity challenges. Those super slow motion videos that we all enjoy during sporting events, like the NFL matchups and the Olympic games, they're shot at 1,000 frames per second, and each frame is two megabytes. That comes to two gigabytes of capacity required for every second of super slow motion video captured, and those big IMAX production shot in 4K streams consumed three terabytes per hour of finished film. Never mind the additional capacity needed to hold all the footage that landed on the cutting room floor and in the outtakes reel. All that gets saved for future use, and then with 3D these amounts double because we shoot once for each eye, and how about audio broadcasting?

It's not uncommon for an internet radio station to store songs in a dozen or more formats to support the assorted broadcast platforms in use today. So the media and entertainment industry is pretty quick to adopt new technology to handle all this big data and its work flows and the long-term storage of all this digital media. Now the opportunity here has not been lost on storage vendors. When I started attending NAB four or five years ago, there were a couple of dozen niche storage vendors exhibiting.

This year there were 66 and big names, too, as well as a slew of smaller vendors you've probably never heard of. This is a place where we certainly saw an early adoption of scale out storage in the market to enable sufficient throughput in support of post-production workflows, and we've been seeing a slow but steady adoption of object stores for archive.

As I said earlier, media and entertainment's one of those markets where we see new storage technology adopted for line of business applications, but we also see that technology make its way into the data center to handle IT's assorted big data challenges. EMC and HDS are two companies that recognize the opportunity for high throughput storage and mainstream applications, and they bought Isilon and BlueArc respectively, and they built their NAS foundations on that technology to give them scale up and scale out storage.

Now these are both good examples of storage technology that started out delivering a competitive advantage for line of business applications then moving into corporate IT. My visit with HDS was especially interesting because we barely talked about storage. HDS, someone who always think about as being very hardware centric and selling on their speeds and feeds, and they've got good merit to, but they had about a dozen media and entertainment software ISBs in their booth exhibiting solutions delivered on HDS technology for things like facial recognition, media analytics, and interactive advertising in TV. So HDS really has done a great job of building out its partner ecosystem to meet customer needs.

Another interesting visit that I had was with Avere. Avere's another vendor that has built quite a following in media and entertainment, and I've had the opportunity to talk to a number of Avere resellers and it's pretty interesting because the story's very consistent. Media and entertainment is strongest in geographies with very expensive footprints. Think about it, L.A., New York, Vancouver, so Avere resellers really like being able to reduce the overall footprint of the storage environment, and one of the things they do is they use Avere nodes locally where the work's done as a performance accelerator and a read-write cache, and then locate the bulk data storage further away where the real estate's a little bit cheaper from where the actual work is done.

But the big story at NAB 2014 was 4K video, and that means lots and lots of storage and lots and lots of bandwidth, and that's why you see vendors like EMC Isilon, NetApp, Quantum and Data Direct networks here, and it's why we're seeing an uptick in interest in finding cost effective ways for handling large media archives, driving interest in vendors like Scality, Clever Safe, and Fuji Film. And what this really all comes down to is handling big data to optimize business processes. So next year if you want to see the latest in high capacity, high throughput storage solutions to optimize business processes, skip the storage shows, go to NAB.

Topics: Storage IT Infrastructure