CriticalPast Speeds Up Stock Footage Active Archive with Wasabi and Fastly

December 7, 2023By Ben Bonadies

CriticalPast LLC, a trailblazer in archival footage, is one of the world’s largest archival stock footage providers and boasts an impressive collection of footage across significant moments in history.  With a vast library of stock footage spanning a century, they cater to a diverse clientele, including filmmakers and television producers. Often, their contributions can be seen credited in renowned projects from industry giants like Ken Burns and the BBC. 

Managing such a colossal archive is not without its challenges. Initially rooted in the world of physical celluloid film, the company faced the daunting task of digitizing its vast collection, ensuring not just the preservation of its content but making it accessible in the rapidly evolving digital marketplace. This journey towards digitization brought forth its own set of intricacies, leading CriticalPast to seek a solution that would align with its expansive needs while also ensuring durability, accessibility, and cost-effectiveness. 

Wasabi Customer Stories: CriticalPast

Challenge: Seeking Secure, Scalable Storage 

The realm of stock footage can be a logistical maze when it comes to storage and accessibility. The company was at the crossroads of staying true to its celluloid origins while also meeting the growing demands of an increasingly digital market. With full resolution video files to manage and a web app that demanded stills of those video files for their online marketplace, the magnitude of the challenge became evident.  

Their initial foray into digital storage was a massive, eight-rack unit server, yet this system was far from flawless. Drives within the server array would often fail. Jim Erickson-Nepomuceno, a partner at CriticalPast, found himself frequently making trips to the data center to address these failures. These visits became a weekly ritual, revealing a system that was more reactive than proactive and far from the seamless solution they required.  

After an attempted denial-of-service attack left them vulnerable, Erickson-Nepomuceno went looking for a solution to bolster his website’s security and found Fastly to be a cost-effective alternative to their existing content delivery network (CDN) provider. Still needing origin storage, Erickson-Nepomuceno trialed Backblaze and found their ingest speeds to be far below what he needed. “I start off at 600 [megabits per second], and it quickly slowed down,” he said. He then started trialing Wasabi, a recommendation from Fastly, and found faster ingest speeds. “I started uploading at 600 megabits per second and it stayed that way until everything was digested,” he said. More tests followed, including finishing the integration with Fastly and a crucial performance test with their team in India. ”We waited with bated breath for our team members in the Philippines and India to complete streaming testing from across the globe,” Erickson-Nepomuceno said. “The results were absolutely superb. One team member who had been with us for more than a decade said, ‘This is the best performance we've ever had, ever.’” 

Solution: Reliable High-Speed Storage   

CriticalPast uses Wasabi to store its lightweight videos and stills, which feed into the public-facing website through Fastly. Erickson-Nepomuceno found the integration very simple to set up and seamless to use. Given their substantial storage needs, which extend to their database of full-resolution video files and added stills for their web app, the affordability Wasabi offered was a game-changer. With Wasabi, CriticalPast securely stores its voluminous data without the constraints and complications of physical servers. 

For Erickson-Nepomuceno, the introduction of Wasabi into their operations marked a transformative phase. The age-old concerns about server drives failing, manual interventions, and the inefficiencies of managed service providers were steadily replaced by the reliability and peace of mind that cloud storage brought. No longer was there a need for Erickson-Nepomuceno to make those routine visits to the data center. Wasabi's storage solution not only preserved CriticalPast's critical content but also paved the way for seamless access and distribution in a digital-first environment. 

Results: Peace of Mind and Predictable Storage Costs  

CriticalPast revolutionized its approach to data storage and management with Wasabi and Fastly. Anxiety associated with potential data loss was significantly alleviated, with Erickson-Nepomuceno emphasizing newfound peace of mind he experienced. “I'll tell you, I've really slept easier ever since I moved to Wasabi,” he said. Even in the unlikely event of both of CriticalPast’s internally-managed storage servers falter, storing their backups in Wasabi ensures that it would not be a catastrophic event. “Wasabi has all the experts, said Erickson-Nepomuceno.” “If there's ever an issue that requires support, it gets taken care of. We’re fortunate that we don't need to give you a call.” 

“I'll tell you, I've really slept easier ever since moving to Wasabi. If there's ever an issue that requires support, it gets taken care of. We’re fortunate that we don't need to give you a call.”

- Jim Erickson-Nepomuceno, Partner at CriticalPast

CriticalPast’s previous storage solution came with unpredictable charges from their customers’ data access, occasionally racking up fees in excess of thousands of dollars for a single customer. “The fees added up so much, you’d think that we bought a used car last month in addition to what we normally purchase,” said Erickson-Nepomuceno. With the many millions of small files the company manages, they always had trouble with egress, but because Wasabi doesn’t charge for egress or API, the team at CriticalPast no longer has to worry about exorbitant fees each month. “We’re delighted to not have a problem with fees over Wasabi,” said Erickson-Nepomuceno. 

What's Next 

As CriticalPast continues to evolve, the company's commitment to archival preservation and its digital interface remains paramount. Eventually, the team would like to offload its entire origin storage to Wasabi and get out of the server maintenance game altogether. “Once we pre-code all of our origin files into all of the various flavors that our customers might want, our hope is to someday store that in Wasabi,” said Erickson-Nepomuceno, “We're looking forward to more with Wasabi in the future. We couldn't be bigger fans.” 

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