Top 10 Reasons to Move to Shared Storage

Posted by Josh Minney on Oct 29, 2018 6:13:00 PM
Josh Minney

It’s no secret that video content is here to stay. Whether you are just beginning your search for best practices in video content creation or looking for solutions as you scale your team, you’re in the right place. Here are our top 10 reasons shared storage is a foundational way to stay ahead of video content demands:

 

1. You will save time. The average 4-person video team working in HD spends 33 hours per month waiting on files to copy from editor to editor. This doesn’t account for time spent relinking, transcoding, and backing up your media. With 4K footage that number shoots up to well over 100 hours per month which is an insane amount of money to spend watching a bar move across a screen.

 

2. You will save money. Without shared storage the 4-person video team has substantial hardware costs associated with duplicating, tripling and quadrupling media. Each editor needs their own hard drive to work from which run anywhere from $1,000 to $10,000 each. While an attractive option at first, this ends up equating to tens of thousands of dollars in only a few years and become a huge impediment to scaling up a video team. In addition, it costs money to have all of those editors sitting around waiting for files to transfer. A midlevel video editor at a Fortune 500 company makes an average $35/hr. If we multiply that using the figures above, the average company with 4 video editors is losing between $14,000 and $60,0000 a year in time lost. The moment your video department goes from 1 to 2 editors, it’s time to start thinking about some form of shared storage.

 

3. You will enable collaboration. This point may not feel as quantifiable as the first two but collaboration is king in video. Every video department on the planet has to make more content, better content, cheaper content, and faster content! Don’t take our word for it, just look at the latest collaboration features rolled out by Adobe and Blackmagic or check out Frame.io and Wipster. Video collaboration in the post production process has been complicated in the past. Most of the complications can be directly tied to technical limitations including file size, bandwidth requirements, and networking know-how. All of these barriers can be broken down with the right shared storage, which means collaboration can continue through the completion of the post production process.

 

4. You Can Unlock Your Archive. Think back at all the footage you have shot in the last few years and the cost associated with each production. How much money do you have sitting on those RAID’s and hard drives in your office? You could have $50k, $500k, or even a million dollars’ worth of footage just laying around. You are sitting on an absolute gold mine and shared storage can help you extract the gold. Imagine having everything you’ve ever shot, all 100 or more Terabytes, in its original format at your fingertips. You won’t see a reduction in your shoot days if you’re going to keep up with the content demands, but you can get ahead of the curve if you start reusing and recycling what you’ve shot. Use shared storage to bring your old content back to life!

 

5. You won’t have to relink anymore. This one is for the editors reading this list. With shared storage you won’t ever have to relink your media again. There isn’t a price we can put on your sanity.

 

6. You will have a platform for growth. We have one question for you, do you think you will be creating more video content or less video content one year from today? If your answer is less than we wish you well, and you can stop reading now. If you answered yes, like every business we’ve encountered in the last 5 years, then this next part is important. Getting your video team on some form of shared storage is your only hope for scaling out your video department. It’s sort of like trading in your two-seater car for a mini-van when you start having kids. You’re going to need a lot more seats and a much bigger trunk if everyone’s going to get where we’re going. Where this analogy falls apart is that some shared storage out there is more like a mini-van with racing slicks and a Hemi under the hood that’ll get you all where you need to go faster than ever.

What about video teams that run a skeleton crew most of the year, but need the flexibility to scale a team up and down quickly on a per project basis? Good shared storage can help these types of video teams as well. Instead of buying additional storage to meet the sudden jump in staff, you can give your freelancers a connection to your server at no additional cost. This has a cumulative effect on organizations because these infrequent but hugely important projects can be turned around much faster and with no additional investment in infrastructure. Any way to make your team more dynamic is a win.

 

7. You can enable remote access through cloud connection. As anyone in post-production will tell you, we’re still a long way out from editing in the cloud. There are some novel attempts using proxy workflows and a whole lot of money but, as of 2018, video bandwidth requirements for post-production continue to outpace even the best internet connections. With every improvement in camera sensor (8K anyone?) the bandwidth gap gets wider. That’s not to say the cloud doesn’t have a ton of useful applications in post-production especially when it comes to video review, archiving, co-location and even rendering. Why are we talking about the cloud in a shared storage top 10 list? Because shared storage with an internet connection is your connection to the cloud. This opens up automated backing up of your media, remote access for your video team, massive file transfer capabilities over ftp and more; all from a centralized location.

 

8. You will experience higher quality deliverables. Storage is probably the last knob you’d think to turn when trying to increase your video’s production value. The problem is that any other knob you turn is going to generate more data, which means more storage. This is an awesome problem for the storage companies, and a less than awesome problem for creatives. It’s also a problem unique to video. You never read about Picasso running out of room on his pallet. While shared storage is still bound by Newton’s laws (all that extra data does have to go somewhere), it doesn’t have to go somewhere four or five times over and that’s the trick. Investing in one larger server instead of multiple RAIDs will be the ticket to maximizing the quality of your video content. This shift will afford you fewer limitations on storage capacity which allows you to capture footage in higher resolutions with the latest codecs like Prores RAW, REDRAW, and Blackmagic RAW. Then when you get to post, you’ll have the flexibility of working in DPX or even openEXR, which are excellent options when working with visual effects. Like most technology, it is important to note that not all shared storage is created equal. As you continue to scale, speed and performance start to matter just as much as capacity when it comes to higher bandwidth playback. For now, however, shared storage is the solution to leveraging higher quality content.

 

9. It has never been more affordable. In 1981 a gigabyte of storage cost $500,000 and today that same gigabyte costs just about $.03. That decline in price, while absolutely astounding, is starting to bottom out according to storage experts who have witnessed a slow-down in price change over the past several years. This means the mantra of “more storage for less money” might be coming to an end. What can a savvy buyer shopping for shared storage do with this information? Make the move now and know you won’t be kicking yourself if you’d have just waited 12 months.The other driver of affordability in the world of shared storage is the huge advancements in Ethernet. Billions of dollars in R&D have been poured into getting more bandwidth out of the ubiquitous cabling that runs through every office building in America. Why does this matter to video editors looking to get an edge? Well before all these advancements, shared storage for video was done with a Storage Area Network aka SAN, which relied on costly fibre channel cabling and metadata controllers. This is a huge oversimplification of a SAN, but all you really need to know is that they are expensive and complicated. SAN practically requires that you graduated in the top of your class in networking and IT to operate it correctly.

The advancements in Ethernet have helped usher in the next wave of Network Attached Storage or NAS for video editing. While not a magic bullet, Ethernet based NAS has dramatically reduced the infrastructure costs around implementing shared storage, and products like the Jellyfish by LumaForge have made a background in IT unnecessary by handling the networking and configuration with patented software.

 

10. NAS is ready for Primetime. If you follow what Apple’s been up to on the Mac for the past 18 months you’ll know they’re really trying to win back the professional market. According to sources inside Apple, the Mac team is actively listening to creatives and working closely with them to help shape the tools they rely on. So, what should we think when the latest iMac Pro was released and for the first time ever has a built in 10Gb Ethernet port? Apple’s reason, as stated on their website, was because it would make, “sharing files between desktops, or working with high-performance network storage, up to 10 times faster.” When Apple builds a 10Gb Ethernet jack into their top-of-the-line professional editing computers, you know NAS is here to stay.

Keep in mind that a decade ago Apple actually built their own SAN’s and only recently stopped supporting their XSAN software suite. If you need more proof, it’s worth noting that in the last 12 months every major editing software on the market has released some form of upgrade or support for shared storage. So if you’re thinking NAS and shared storage are a fad, the giants of the industry would beg to differ.

 

Hopefully this has been a helpful resource in learning about the benefits of shared storage and the potential return on investment you stand to gain if and when your company makes the switch. If you’re anything like our team of filmmakers, you have tried a little bit of everything to enhance your video workflow. You’re not alone if you have used Amazon to empty-box NAS devices (no HDD’s) for less than a thousand dollars. You’re not alone if you have ever been in a creative flow and had to stop to pass a drive. Even if you’re at the top of the video content game, you aren’t the only one who has spent millions of dollars on a tiered storage appliance. The point is that it’s important to do your homework and find the solution that best suits your needs.

Video is extremely taxing on servers and with the increase in demand it’s critical to make sure you find a vendor that understands your workflow. Best of luck from our team of editors to yours!

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