A media storage game changer?

Ed. Note: This post was authored by Jim Frantzreb, axle Video

They say you can’t have it both ways. That storage designed for IT will never really work for full resolution media production. That’s certainly what I believed many years ago as a storage product manager for a major digital media system vendor, trying (and failing) to make a mainstream IT storage system work in an editorial media production environment.  I learned that editing-intensive, multi-stream, full resolution video (often with eight or more tracks of high resolution audio per video stream) is just about as far as you can get from the transaction processing data model that virtually all storage was, and largely still is, designed for.  Back in the day, purpose-built file-system and highly adapted firmware that successfully met the nascent demand for real-time shared media storage was the only option.

Of course, technology doesn’t stand still.  Storage device densities and throughput have grown; and channel, interface, and network technologies have evolved to handle far greater traffic, while becoming more adaptable to the expanding needs of digital media. This has had something of a levelling effect in that mild firmware and file system tuning now make it possible for some mainstream storage to be used in near-line media staging applications and even to support a few seats of lower resolution editing.  However, few mainstream storage providers are willing to invest in the next step of developing a file system capable of meeting the unique demands of digital media production environments.

That said, I think Dell has now done it. Dell Storage with the Fluid File System (FluidFS), is capable of addressing the needs of both classic IT and modern digital media producers. Dell has a white paper that provides ample details demonstrating an advanced, layered, and highly extensible architecture, complete with adaptive load management plus other sophisticated data management and caching policies that make it possible to handle a wide range of applications.

Our company, axle Video, (innovator of “radically simple” media asset management) recently undertook a test of the Dell FluidFS and 60TB of Dell Compellent FS8600 storage where we simulated a mid-sized media production environment typical of most of the media and entertainment industry.  With eight editors plus ingest, transcode, archiving processes and browsing stations, we put a load of 22 simultaneous 1080p 100Mbit video and 44 48kHz audio streams on the system. It performed flawlessly, showing that even a modest sized Dell FluidFS Storage solution not only meets but exceeds the needs of a typical media production environment.

For the first time, there is arguably a single storage solution that can handle all (non-archive) data storage needs. For media organizations everywhere, the implications of that are huge. Now you actually can have it both ways.

To get the axle Video – Dell white paper “Shared Storage – Big, Fast, and Better Managed” click here.   

Sarah Vela

About the Author: Sarah Vela

Sarah is the Chief Blog Strategist for Dell Technologies. Born in New York and raised in New England, she has been living and working in the Austin area for over 20 years, but she knows that doesn't make her a true Texan. She joined Dell in the spring of 2011, left briefly for another company, but realized her mistake and returned in November of 2019. Sarah has five kids, two dogs, two cats, and no free time.