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pixitmedia – Boldly going to Storage and Beyond

InBroadcast – Vol:10 – Issue:12 / InReview / December 2020 — Paul Cameron, Global Managing Director, pixitmedia reflects on a challenging year, and looks forward at an ever-evolving 2021…

Lessons from 2020

If there’s one experience I think all studios shared when lockdown started this year, it would be the very sudden and immediate halt in their content supply chain. Film shoots and live events were no longer feasible, so no new content was being created. Many projects that our customers were expecting to work on throughout the year got stopped overnight.

From the viewpoint of our clients who were adapting to this change, their challenge was finding a quick way to grant their creatives users and editors access to content remotely. This setup has various implications on network bandwidth, for example: how users share and collaborate on data.

Whilst our solution is a software-defined storage data management platform, our company vision is about going ‘beyond storage’. It’s not just about a repository for data, we enable access to data in a collaborative and engaging way. More than just providing storage to store content, pixitmedia is involved in the supply chain and pipeline of edited work within studios. The whole ethos around pixstor and ngenea, our core solutions, is about performance, collaboration, and access to data, whether it’s on premise, in the cloud, or a hybrid combination of both models.

Looking back, studios adopting cloud solutions has been a slow but gradual trend over the course of the last few years. The pandemic has certainly accelerated the change as companies needed to rapidly speed up the process and adjust quickly to stay competitive. The capability of editing and working in the cloud is much more advanced than it was a few years ago. Today studios are able to deploy whole studios in the cloud, as well as having scalable storage that enables that to happen.

Considered Cloud 

The pandemic has forced a shift in the way we create and consume audiovisual content, probably forever. From a business perspective, it’s unlikely the way studios operate will return exactly as they were -the capability to work in the cloud has been tried and tested. But it’s important to highlight that there are also pitfalls.

Cloud isn’t the answer for everything. Companies need to take a considered approach to how they use cloud going forward. It’s not necessarily efficient to run everything from the cloud, as there are huge costs associated with cloud usage – costs not always accounted for beforehand.

It’s not just about the work and resources within the cloud. It’s about the extraction, the ingest, the egress data in and out the cloud that is expensive. In that sense, we’re currently working with our clients to understand their workflows, where their users are based, what content they need to egress and work on, and what performance requirements they have in doing so. Then, we design a solution that takes the benefit of all the different technologies available in an effective way. Studios that moved to the cloud will remain competitive, but the studios that will persevere are the ones that have moved to the cloud in a well-orchestrated, well-thought-out way.

Because pixstor is a software-defined solution that can run both on-premise and in the cloud, we are able to advise our clients without bias. They bring their choice of technology whilst we look at their project, media asset and project management tools, and make sure they are best integrated into the storage and technology of their choosing. We want users to have the same experience regardless of the underlying technology and data provision.

A great use case for cloud is when studios have predictable peaks in workloads with cyclical projects over the year. In those scenarios, getting access to cloud resources for those peaks is more efficient than buying on-premise technology big enough to cope with peaks that only happen for a short period of time.

There has definitely been an immediate reaction to adopt Cloud technology, and understandably so. Though, the mistake lies when studios move entirely into the cloud based on one successful use case. Storing data that needs to be accessed regularly in the cloud is often not a cost-effective scenario due to the expensive ingresses and egresses. I predict studios will pull back from the cloud in some way, especially when it comes to the type of data, how often it is accessed and how much of it is in there – that’s what determines a hybrid cloud strategy.

Packed with intelligent data management tools and powerful APIs featured as standard, pixstor helps studios streamline workflow and drive efficiencies. ngenea, in turn, allows studios to quickly and securely transport data to and from globally distributed cloud, object storage, traditional NAS storage and archive resources – automatically moving data into the ‘right cost’ resource according to value and usage as work teams and business needs demand.

Stay nimble 

Because pixstor is a software-defined solution, therefore flexible with a number of different hardware technologies and cloud vendors, it’s crucial for us to stay up to date with trending technologies. Looking particularly at the role of GPUs, we’ve identified a big rise in NVIDIA across the market. The media and entertainment industry is now looking at how to harness the capability and power of GPUs in workflows and pipelines, leveraging them for very high-resolution playback, machine learning, and real time virtual reality.

One thing companies need to consider carefully is technology doesn’t stand still. Solutions that are thriving today might be replaced in the future years. Therefore, my advice for businesses in the media and entertainment industry is to avoid investing in locked-in tools that don’t engage with other services. By doing so, it gives them a competitive advantage as new technologies come along, deploying them into their systems.

Paul Cameron enjoyed over twenty years with IBM, where he led sales and client teams to drive growth and deliver success, helping his clients store, manage, and protect their most valuable asset: data.

He was named as a member of the Board of Directors and helped IBM reseller Tectrade expand into the USA. Paul recently joined pixitmedia to lead the company’s vision and global strategies. Today Paul is driving the business to push boundaries and facilitate seamless collaboration to enable the power of ideas for customers.