2014 is a year where we saw an organizational shift—where production companies
moved towards being ‘always on’ to serve the connected customer. With the proliferation of mobile devices and content delivery portals, it should not be surprising the year also saw escalated efforts by production companies to connect with that consumer. As the needs of businesses and consumers continuously evolve, so do the systems providing information and data.
Any improvements made over the last couple of decades have not been enough to address rapid growth, various distribution channels, multiple devices and platforms, as well as changing customer expectations. We know that content production inefficiencies delay time-to-market, introducing unnecessary expenses, and limiting abilities to respond to opportunities or threats. Media and Entertainment companies are realizing they need to consolidate their IT into a common infrastructure by managing storage more effectively, and better utilize computing assets in order to ensure content created provides maximum business value.
Delivering High-Quality Content; Too Fast too Furious
The appetite for access to high-quality, repeatable entertainment is still very much a push factor for production companies to expand, and operating margins to increase. Consumer spending on home entertainment has remained a resilient market—and with Asia being the first “mobile-first” region—there is still plenty of unexploited opportunity in terms of enabling home entertainment.
With the age of the Internet, it is a matter of the fastest fingers first when it comes to posting new content. Not so different from shifting gears faster to gain maximum pickup speed at the start of a car race right? However, media production companies, whether pre- or post-production or real-time content management are struggling to deal with an explosion of data as they race to market. This issue became a very real problem for Hindi news channel, Live India. Live India’s reliance on the time-consuming manual provisioning of storage, and other technical issues caused interruptions to live broadcasts, reducing its effectiveness as a news broadcaster.
Moving to a scalable, flexible platform like Isilon helped condense production time to deliver breaking news faster. Puneet Jain, IT Manager at Live India elaborates, “The Isilon solution is compatible with media industry standard operating systems, which means accessing files is easy for our editors. Our users are happy with the improved performance and that in turn means we can support our journalists to deliver news that features in-depth stories based on up-to-the-min events and related archive footage.”
Digital technology and file-based production workflows have completely revolutionized the content creation process. However, these advances have introduced a different set of challenges, including the rapid set-up and tear down of technology infrastructure needed. So what do we do? I believe the way forward is reducing the number of different technologies deployed, simplifying operational challenges, and in turn cutting costs. Media and entertainment companies are moving towards a single storage solution to deliver all requirements needed for data access during and after the production workflow. Any racer worth his street-cred will not think twice about losing unnecessary weight to make his car go faster, so why should media companies not do the same?
This increased efficiencies resulted in a 20 percent reduction in total cost of ownership storage-wise, for Phoenix Television, a Hong Kong-based satellite broadcaster. David Sun, Systems Maintenance Manager and Storage Architect at Phoenix Television explains that they needed a single storage system to deliver all of the requirements for data access, all the while being scalable and stable, as well as having compatibility across existing software and applications. “We can distribute the data automatically so that the storage utilization is optimized as being the most cost-effective for our production budget,” he says.
More Bang for Your Buck
“When should I hit the button for Nitrous?”—The burning question every racer has during a street race. Hit it too early and you lose the extra boost of acceleration you need to win. Hit it too late and your opponent will get too far ahead of you to catch up. Hit it at the right time and if Lady Luck is in your favor, the prize money is yours. Likewise, as with all businesses, tangible benefits after spending a significant amount of money on upgrading infrastructure, is always highly desired. Phoenix Television saw an increase in audience engagement by enabling faster, higher-quality program development. Additionally, Phoenix Television was able to expand its influence and increase advertising revenue by providing a range of high-quality video content and programs, targeted at capturing a greater share of the Chinese language audiences accessing content via mobiles.
Can You Keep Up with Content Demand Changes?
This new world of digital production has forever changed the media and entertainment landscape, and is only going to continue progressing. There is a need for high-speed data center infrastructures made up of commodity servers, a fast and efficient common network, and file-based storage that easily scales as the petabytes of content grows. Take it from Ryosuke Takahashi , “If you aren’t continuously looking up and putting in the effort, you can’t reach the next level.” The key is to look for innovative and integrated solutions while taking note of any long-term implications, which may create additional challenges or expenses in the future.