According to McKinsey, the pandemic drastically accelerated the use of technology and digitisation across all business sectors — that includes Media & Entertainment (M&E).1 Organisations moved exponentially faster to build supply-chain redundancies, improve security postures, and increase advanced technologies use. In the media and entertainment industry, that acceleration was most obvious in their storage requirements.
Media and Entertainment (M&E) companies are looking to storage alternatives as:
- Image resolution increases
- Stereoscopic virtual reality video expands
- Compression technology enables higher resolution and faster frame rate workflows
- Data conversion of film, videotape and analogue formats increase as the need for digital preservation gains momentum
- Remote workforces require centralised storage for collaborative workflows, archiving, and content distribution
- Nonlinear editing requires high-performance storage solutions.
Projections through 2025 estimate the cloud storage capacity to grow from 2.2 exabyte (EB) to almost 30 EB as attached or local storage devices become cost-prohibitive.2
How Media & Entertainment Storage Requirements Have Changed
A major change in the M&E industry during 2020 was a shift to working remotely. Accessing resources via a VPN was challenging with latency issues, restricted file sizes, and a lack of collaboration tools in a distributed workforce configuration. Those limitations went well beyond those involved in production; they impacted all other organisational departments such as accounting, marketing, and human resources. Although supporting a remote workforce was not unique to the M&E industry, other changes brought about by the pandemic were:
- Video-on-Demand: More people looked to video-on-demand for entertainment, and companies began looking to professional video production services for online communications.
- Monetisation of Archival Media: As consumer consumption increased, companies seized the opportunity to find new revenue streams from archived media. Older media — in part or whole — was even incorporated into newer productions.
- Higher Resolution and Larger File Sizes: Consumers expect higher resolution video, and technology has advanced so that the product can be delivered at speed. However, higher resolution means larger file sizes, which require more storage capacity.
- Collaboration and Coopertition: Not only do teams within an organisation need to collaborate, but external teams may also be needed to complete a project. With the proper tools, collaboration is impossible.
Each of these trends has placed added pressure on companies to find solutions to meet the following principles:
- Flexibility: M&E companies need flexibility in storage configurations to move files quickly, whether in the cloud or on-premise. They need the ability to seamlessly adjust storage requirements based on specific use cases.
- Scalability: Storage solutions need to scale quickly and effectively. With the increase in file sizes and the digitisation of archived media, storage requirements can change rapidly. Having to wait for additional storage can delay delivery.
- Resiliency: The pandemic has taught businesses the importance of resilience. Companies must tolerate variances in demanded performance levels without disrupting business continuity.
- Simplicity: Organisations may not have access to IT staff to address on-premise demands for data storage. As a result, cloud storage solutions should be easy for non-technical staff to manage.
- Connectivity: Without the flexibility of connections, M&E businesses may face disruptions in service. Cloud connectivity must be reliable and storage solutions should adapt to on-premise, cloud, hybrid, and multi-site configurations.
- Security: With more digital assets being stored in multiple locations, cybersecurity becomes a crucial part of business continuity. Cyberattacks can bring operations to a halt, so cloud storage platforms should have a strong security posture.
As the world moves beyond 2020, the impact on the M&E industry will continue to shape the market. Companies must be agile to pivot quickly to take advantage of changing consumer demand. Security and resilience will become cornerstones for survival.
How is the Cloud Better Suited to M&E Storage?
The shift in storage requirements for the M&E industry means rethinking their IT infrastructure, data management and data storage. Traditional configurations lack the flexibility needed for faster production times, more content offerings, and better delivery mechanisms. Looking to cloud services as an alternative can help the industry meet the demands of the next normal.
Meeting Customer Expectations
Consumers expect high-quality digital content. They expect to access what they want when they want it. For media companies, the ups and downs of customer expectations make it difficult to plan storage requirements. Without scalability, media companies may be unable to deliver digital content to meet consumer demands.
Since viewership can change in seconds, using the cloud in the media and entertainment industry provides a scalable solution that is agile enough to meet changes in real time. With the ability to adjust storage from any location, entertainment companies can gain the flexibility they need to operate cost effectively.
Delivering New Content
As more customers look for on-demand or streaming content, creators see deadlines shorten. The pressure to develop and distribute original content continues to increase as more companies try to capture a percentage of the growing market. On-premise storage solutions do not have the flexibility to manage, store and deliver volumes of digital content.
Cloud solutions provide flexibility in the deployment of storage configurations. Combining on-premise and cloud storage gives the industry the ability to shift content across platforms for a more agile and dynamic solution. Cloud solutions enable content creators to meet the demands for new content.
Pro tip: You can’t just opt for cloud storage and think your work is done, there’s plenty of cloud storage infrastructure variations, so you need to know the difference and what will work best for you. We’ve put together this comparison to help you… Public vs Private vs Hybrid Clouds: Your Guide to Cloud Storage
Building an on-premise infrastructure to support the high performance, high-resolution media files is cost-prohibitive. Not only must companies invest in server and storage hardware, but they must also pay for employees to manage the large data centres. Ensuring reliable operations requires redundancy, which only adds to the cost of on-premise storage.
Moving to the cloud allows organisations to tune up their big data storage strategy in a cost effective way. No hardware is necessary when using a cloud solutions provider. On-premise storage can be eliminated or combined with the cloud to deliver a hybrid work environment. After all, if you’ve already invested in on-premise storage solutions (but they’ve reached their capacity) then it would be illogical to disregard those investments and move entirely to the cloud — this is why hybrid solutions can be popular. Rising costs in other areas of the industry can be offset by deploying a more cost-effective cloud solution.
Streaming delays or downtime can destroy the customer experience. It can also mean lost advertising dollars as expectations are not met. If companies cannot deliver content reliably, consumers and advertisers will turn to the competition for their digital experiences. M&E data protection and replication and back-up assurance is well suited to the age of the cloud. Cloud providers can offer distributed or redundant architectures that ensure reliable delivery of digital content. They can offer improved connectivity to reduce the chances of a breakdown in communications. While many industries can evaluate downtime in cost per minute, M&E businesses must calculate it per second, making reliability crucial to success.
Challenges in the Next Normal
Deploying the cloud in the media and entertainment industry provides a single solution to the challenges facing the industry as a result of COVID-19. The 2020 challenges are projected to continue into the next normal as consumers continue to demand the flexibility of having entertainment delivered anytime and anywhere.
With increased demand, content creators need access to advanced technologies that can expedite the creation and distribution process. Platforms must support collaboration among internal and external teams as the industry struggles to meet demand. Higher resolution and performance require more storage and operational efficiencies. The cloud offers a simplified approach to file storage that enables entertainment companies to have the flexibility, agility, and resiliency to thrive.
Finding the right experts to help with cloud implementations can also be challenging. At Nexstor, our 15-years of experience means we can offer the expertise to help deliver the right solution for your needs. We provide services to various industries and work with multiple vendors to ensure that the implementation meets your needs. To ensure your company benefits from cloud services, contact us today and request a quote to find your M&E storage solution.