SAMS Forum: Object Storage Begins To Take Hold

The increasing importance of object storage was a topic of discussion at last month’s SVG Sports Asset Management & Storage Forum. Although the concept has been around for a long time, it is just now coming into its own for sports networks and leagues.

“A lot of data associated with a file never changes, so there is no need to store it on a complex file-based system,” explained Michael King, director of marketing strategy and operations, DDN Storage. “Object storage is real.”

Ooyala's Scott Katzenoff (far right) moderated a panel entitled "Object Storage and All-IP Workflows: Are Files and Signals the Same Now?" featuring (from left) Brian Campanotti of Oracle, Jeff Greenwald of HGST, Michael King of DDN Storage, Janet Lafleur of Quantum, and Scott Rinehart of Notre Dame Athletics' Fighting Irish Media.

Ooyala’s Scott Katzenoff (far right) moderated a panel entitled “Object Storage and All-IP Workflows: Are Files and Signals the Same Now?” featuring (from left) Brian Campanotti of Oracle, Jeff Greenwald of HGST, Michael King of DDN Storage, Janet Lafleur of Quantum, and Scott Rinehart of Notre Dame Athletics’ Fighting Irish Media.

Jeff Greenwald, senior director, market development, HGST, noted several compelling reasons for an object-storage–based workflow, especially for larger, “peta-scale” media operations. It increases the security of asset preservation and can play a role in the move to monetization of those assets. In addition, with the world moving toward content personalization, a system that allows metadata to provide access to an archive system can play a key part in delivery of critical content.

“Asset tagging that makes one prepared for the future is compelling for all of us,” said Greenwald.

Janet Lafleur, product marketing, media and entertainment, Quantum, explained that object storage is important in filling the gap between disc and tape storage technologies. For example, it can extend to online storage for archive where clips need to be accessed quickly. And other content can be moved to less responsive storage technologies, which can be accessed more slowly.

“It does not require for all of the storage to be the same type,” she said. “For example, with RAID arrays. larger ones get old, and then migration can be difficult and slow. But object storage is self-migrating.”

Said Brian Campanotti, global director, business development, Oracle, “You can have a high-performance SAN and then a tier-scaled data-tape or cloud system, as it ultimately is not about the connectors but about the software layers above that can go one way or another.”

AXF (Archive Exchange Format), he noted, is the kind of technology that can be used to enable object-based workflows with encapsulated metadata and is also agnostic to storage type.

“AXF provides greater odds of recoverability for the long term,” he added.

From left: Brian Campanotti, Oracle, Global Director of Business Development and Jeff Greenwald, HGST, Senior Director, Market Development

From left: Brian Campanotti, Oracle, Global Director of Business Development and Jeff Greenwald, HGST, Senior Director, Market Development

Object storage can also offer some security protection because, for example, data tape on a shelf (and not connected to a file reader/writer) is pretty much free from cyber attacks. And those data tapes can offer the cost saving required to keep up with the explosion in content to be stored while budgets stay flat. Also, companies need to re-architect workflows to handle the growing capacity and things like high-frame-rate files.

Greenwald cited CrossFit Sports as an interesting example of a company that makes use of object-storage workflows for its 17,000 affiliates and 500,000 athletes.

“Each athlete is videotaped and uploaded to social media and archives as there are regional events where they perform in competitions,” he explained. “So [content is being moved] off tier-one storage to SAN and object-storage solutions that are [tied] to social media.”

King said that user-generated content and recruiting video, a recent development in content creation, falls into a different workflow.

From left: Michael King, DDN Storage, Sr. Director of Marketing Strategy and Operations; Janet Lafleur, Quantum, Product Marketing for Media & Entertainment; and Scott Rinehart, Notre Dame Athletics, Fighting Irish Media, Broadcast Technology Program Director

From left: Michael King, DDN Storage, Sr. Director of Marketing Strategy and Operations; Janet Lafleur, Quantum, Product Marketing for Media & Entertainment; and Scott Rinehart, Notre Dame Athletics, Fighting Irish Media, Broadcast Technology Program Director

“In those cases, object storage works very well as the downloads are small and personalized to individuals. It is also HTTP-based and goes directly to the internet with uploads and downloads to the public side. So it’s about figuring out how to get a SAN connected to that, and, with object storage, you can do that.”

There may be numerous ways to approach object storage, but, according to Greenwald, penetration of object-storage workflows is around 70% in the enterprise market, but only 11% of media companies rely on object storage.

“There is a lot of head room for object storage in this industry,” he noted. “It can get to 15% in the next two or three years.”

Added Campanotti, “The technology drive of object storage is sound, and the cost is compelling. But you really have to think about the usability.”

One key enabling technology is the improvement in IP throughput. Modern-day IP connectivity has allowed NAS (network-attached storage) systems to equal SAN (storage-array network) in many instances.