Flash Storage Goes to Hollywood

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A 30-second HD television commercial can take up to 10TB of data storage while it’s in production. Your average major blockbuster film produces 740TB of stored data. A 3-hour professional sports game produces 26TB of storage data (more if it goes into overtime… damn you, Falcons!).

With the wide use of ultra-high resolution video and tapeless workflows, the Media & Entertainment (M&E) industry has seen an exponential growth in data. To complicate matters, special effects, audio, color correction and editing require 8x the storage capacity of old-fashioned HD content.

Yet despite this exponential increase in data, we’re seeing a significant increase in the use solid-state storage in every stage of the production cycle. Why? Because they need PERFORMANCE.

500,000 Hours of Digital Content

The MLB Network, for example, uses Tegile flash storage in their post-production environment. During the regular season, they need to record all of the games and produce content for shows like MLB Tonight, The Rundown, Intentional Talk, MLB Now, and Quick Pitch, which focus on the day’s activities and give a snapshot of what’s going on around the league. In the off-season, they produce several countdown shows, individual player profiles, and other programming that goes behind the daily game and into more of the storytelling about baseball. That’s over 500,000 hours of digital content!

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They needed a flash storage system that could serve a dual function as a Fibre Channel boot and virtualization storage system. MLB Network’s Director of Media Management and Post Production Tab Butler commented, “Tegile’s technology allows us to provide our users a low latency, high availability OS environment while simultaneously fulfilling our high-performance virtualization needs. It is a cost-effective solution that allows us to improve our operations while ensuring data integrity.” Flash gives M&E organizations like MLB Network the speed, performance, and reliability they need, enabling them to meet those ever-shrinking production deadlines.

The downside to flash, of course, has historically been its high cost per raw gigabyte. In the past, M&E organizations tended to buy less storage and delete valuable video in order to make room for new digital assets. As recently as 2013, organizations archived only 43% of their digital content.

The Best of Both Worlds: Performance and Capacity

The ideal flash storage system for post-production workflows would offer high performance at a low $/GB. Tegile’s multi-tiered flash architecture offers both. It leverages different grades of storage media, giving M&E organizations the high performance and low power consumption of persistent memory at one-third the cost of traditional storage. Frequently accessed data remains in the high-performance tier, which contains NVDIMMs and high-performance SSDs, while “cold” data is stored in capacity tier, which can contains either high-density flash or disk.

Another Tegile customer, a leading provider of end-to-end television production and content distribution solutions, has also benefited from our IntelliFlash architecture. They had been using traditional storage, but a ballooning VMware infrastructure gradually overloaded those systems. Almost every business operation is virtualized, including service, training, documentation, software-build operations, and test/dev. End users started to experience slower response times and intermittent access of VMs as the number of VMs grew. They were seeing high CPU usage and high latency of NFS data stores. As a result, VMs took 30 to 50 seconds to boot. It started out happening here and there, but then it became a daily occurrence.

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Now with their Tegile flash storage array, they have greatly improved access times and can promote more VMs without constraining resources. Their CPUs now never run over 10% utilization (versus the 80% to 90% they saw with their old storage), which gives them the opportunity to run the same workloads on fewer cores and save on VMware licensing costs.

Moving forward, we expect filmmakers, digital storage/solution providers, M&E experts to rapidly adopt solid-state storage for their production and post-production environments. And because of our multi-tiered flash architecture, Tegile is uniquely positioned to meet their needs for high performance and high capacity.


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