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October 2016

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STORAGE 42 POST OCTOBER 2016 odern media workflows are built on a variety of applications that provide media asset management, transcode, render, production automation and other types of valuable functionality. Because these applications generally are configured to run on independent servers, each adds complexity to the network and compute infrastructure supporting the overall workflow. Rarely operating near their full capacity, these independent servers also represent highly-inefficient use of computing resources. A SIMPLER, MORE STREAMLINED, VERSATILE MODEL The introduction of converged architec- tures offers a simpler, more streamlined and more versatile model in which many key workflow applications run directly on the storage hardware instead of on a sep- arate server. By addressing and resolving issues of complexity and inefficiency, con- verged architectures empower users to be more productive — and more competitive — in creating and delivering the content and services that drive their businesses. Whether employed by a boutique post house or a global media company, converged architecture can save facility space and power & cooling costs, while also saving money in terms of hardware and operating costs by eliminating the challenging task of managing many differ- ent servers. A converged architecture enables embedded applications to operate within self-contained virtual machines (VMs) running on a single server, with a hyper- visor dynamically allocating resources to each VM as needed to guarantee both storage and application performance. VMs are ideal for applications without heavy performance requirements, whether due to the nature of the application or the size of the workload. Within media work- flows, which require an array of different processing steps, this approach is an excel- lent fit. Although every application places demands on the underlying server's com- puting resources, the variability of work- flow and workload allow for an adaptable approach in employing these resources. In addition to accommodating a fa- cility's workload changes, whether daily, weekly or monthly, VM-based applica- tions give media facilities a new degree of flexibility in adopting new technology. In short, this approach makes it easy and affordable to test a new workflow application for suitability. The applica- tions that prove valuable to the workflow can be brought online quickly, and they are typically easier to manage and less costly to own and operate than conven- tional applications running on their own dedicated server systems. Because mul- tiple applications run on a single server system and are managed via a com- mon interface, converged architecture also can reduce the burden on system administrators. The scalability of this model is anoth- er important characteristic, as it ensures that media companies can expand their operations smoothly, simply extending the underlying storage system to support the increased demand brought on by greater numbers of users, active projects and video processing applications. And if applications that were originally deployed in VMs outgrow their VM deployment due to increased demand, then they can be redeployed on dedicated servers later as needed. It's the flexibility of converged ar- chitectures that makes them so powerful — applications can be moved from converged platform to dedicated servers at any time. AN OPEN PLATFORM SOLUTION A broad range of embedded applications already run this way on Quantum Xcellis workflow storage powered by StorNext data management supporting an ev- er-greater array of workflows — including animation/VFX, color grading, compos- iting and content delivery — to enable facilities of all sizes to streamline and optimize their technology deployments. As an open platform solution, Xcellis runs embedded applications in the Kernel- based Virtual Machine (KVM) hypervisor, which supports both Linux and Windows applications. To ensure the applications running in the hypervisor do not overbur- den the storage controller, Xcellis reserves dedicate storage resources and dynam- ically monitors and manages the virtual machine workload to guarantee both storage and application performance. In a further advance, workflow appli- cations now are learning to work with objects, not just files. This step forward offers media companies further oppor- tunities to simplify workflows, such as transcode and asset management, that operate primarily on content in digital libraries. Workflow applications that op- erate on objects eliminate the costly and possibly time-consuming step of restor- ing to online storage first, streamlining operations such as transcode for content delivery or managing assets shared by distributed teams. Even more important- ly, object storage frees valuable primary storage for more demanding tasks like editing, compositing and color grading. Object storage-based digital reposi- tories are growing in popularity because they bring disk-speed to digital content libraries at a lower cost than primary disk. Quantum Lattus object storage excels as a long-term platform, providing durability and resilience against hardware failure through fountain erasure coding. The same erasure coding that makes Lattus self-healing after a disk failure also simpli- fies upgrades to new disk technologies. Unlike RAID, Lattus object storage does not require all disks to be of the same size and type, so there's no need for forklift upgrades for storage. Converged architecture for media workflows has evolved to the point that it is readily available and easily deployed, giving media facilities a straightforward path toward more efficient and nimble operations — a valuable benefit for the dynamic and complex workflows support- ing content creation, delivery, distribution and archive today. LEVERAGING CONVERGED ARCHITECTURES TO SIMPLIFY MEDIA WORKFLOWS HELPING STUDIOS SAVE SPACE, POWER & MONEY M BY DAVE FREDERICK SENIOR DIRECTOR OF MEDIA & ENTERTAINMENT QUANTUM SAN JOSE, CA WWW.QUANTUM.COM

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