The New Normal for Production and Data Storage Management

(Image credit: Spectra)

The massive global effort to curb COVID-19 has brought an unprecedented change in the way the media and entertainment industry operates. Due to quarantines and social distancing mandates, most productions have come to a halt and broadcast networks are adjusting to accommodate disruptions in the content supply chain. Furthermore, with the majority of the population sequestered in their homes, there has been an increasing demand for DVR recordings, video-on-demand and streaming services. 

With the reduction in live programming, broadcasters are changing priorities as they look to source content in new ways. More efficient data identification, remote file access and retrieval of archived assets that can be quickly utilized are critical. In addition, changing the focus of content subject matter to support quarantined audiences, such as broadcasting fitness and cooking programs rather than regularly scheduled live content is a key element to keeping audiences engaged. To achieve this type of responsive consumer programming, M&E organizations must depend on agile data storage management strategies that allow for quick access and flexibility when it comes to viewer consumption and demand.


In the past, traditional storage paradigms have focused too much on the storage tier without offering awareness into the data that is being stored on any given tier. Today, up to 80% of that data is typically inactive, and therefore, being stored on the wrong tier, costing millions of dollars a year. 

M&E companies need to seamlessly manage, move and distribute content as well as search for and access particular data assets. An increasing need for scale, collaboration and diverse workflows is driving companies to adopt a new model for content storage. This new two-tier model dynamically modernizes organizational workflows. The “Primary Tier” holds all active business-critical information, and the second, “Perpetual Tier,” holds less active but still valuable data, which allows users to keep multiple copies of data on a variety of storage media, including cloud, object storage disk and tape, ensuring data is protected and easily available. It also can be used for secondary storage, distribution, backup, archive and disaster recovery, and be configured to be as responsive as an organizations’ workflows demand. 

Modern storage management software (SMS) maximizes efficiency by intelligently migrating data to the appropriate level of storage. It automatically scans the Primary Tier for inactive assets, which it then identifies and moves to the Perpetual Tier. By reducing the data stored, in the more expensive Primary Tier of storage, organizations reduce backups and increase performance. This reduction in expensive primary storage provides less administrative and maintenance costs for the primary storage support, and allows IT administrators to be more productive in organizing and managing their infrastructure. 


Archive features in storage management solutions enable finished programming to be easily stored in the Perpetual Tier and moved back to the Production Tier as broadcast and viewer needs dictate. If content within the secondary tier is required at short notice—for example, if biographical footage of a celebrity is required for a feature about their life—it can be easily sourced from the cloud, or a tape library, at which point it can be restored directly to the same production storage tier from which it was originally copied, either on-demand or scheduled for a future date.

Organizations can search for a file system and identify assets to be moved from the cloud and then archived based on date, project or other criteria. Fully automated archiving software can periodically scan and archive inactive files while still allowing users to access the files as they always have, whether onsite or on the move. The public cloud’s inherent infrastructure can be utilized with storage management software to allow data to be accessed, shared and manipulated by any number of disparate users and sites worldwide. Workflows can be streamlined and content efficiently managed to create a better experience for viewers. 


Traditionally, we used to think of storage as a pyramid model—a hierarchical model with flash at the top as the fastest, but most expensive; then disk, with tape, as the most affordable, but slowest, at the bottom. We now look at a two-tier model with the production tier that is file-based and very active for editing and rendering, and the second tier as a Perpetual Tier that is object based, which allows for the flexibility to move data to the most suitable storage target, whether disk, tape or cloud. This streamlined approach allows for fast, concurrent access while at the same time enabling assets to be moved around to the appropriate storage target based on need and budget.

For media and entertainment organizations that keep the majority of their data on expensive high-performance storage, the tiered approach leveraging storage management software will result in substantial cost savings, as content and inactive projects are moved off of expensive high-performance production storage and preserved for easy access or future use. 

Adopting a modern storage solution enables media and entertainment organizations to seamlessly store, find, restore and ultimately, ensure access to their valuable content quickly during these unprecedented times and reliably into the future.

David Feller brings more than 25 years of engineering and marketing leadership experience to Spectra. As vice president of product management and solutions engineering, he merges the voice of the customer with market trends and technologies to create and drive a successful product portfolio for Spectra. David also oversees Spectra’s external partnership development, client certification and client test programs.

Prior to Spectra, David was vice president of marketing for DVDO/Silicon Image, where he pioneered 4K and beyond HDMI technology systems.

Previous to that, he served as vice president of marketing for Cornice, a hard drive manufacturer that pioneered storage for early portable music players. He also held the position of chief marketing officer for BOCS, an in-home video distribution company, and was product line director at Harris Semiconductor where his group invented and brought to market the world’s first WiFi solution.