Urban Brew Expands Capacity to Take on New Opportunity with Wasabi, Signiant, and iconik

June 22, 2023By Ben Bonadies

Urban Brew Studios is a full-service television studio based in Johannesburg, South Africa. The company operates eight studios, two TV channels, and produces its own content for delivery to major broadcasters in South Africa. The company was effectively managing the data demands of their business using on-premises storage hardware. That was until streaming platforms came knocking. 

New business model means new storage challenges  

Over the past two years, new productions from global streaming platforms arrived in South Africa. With these new opportunities came new challenges for the creators in the area. These productions came with higher resolution requirements and new encoding models, adding up to an overall higher data burden for local producers. “Now, we need to conform to a different standard and the data sizes are not the same,” said Trevor Nkosi, Urban Brew’s Information Officer and IT Manager.  

Urban Brew’s next project would utilize 24 cameras shooting in 4K resolution. The project necessitated an expansion in storage, but Trevor and his team were hesitant to pay the upfront CapEx cost they’d need to meet demand, a strain made worse by the high price of storage devices in the region and the long setup phase that would eat into production time.  

Prior to moving to Wasabi, we've had to spend over R12,3 million rand [$633,440 USD] on storage alone. Wasabi came in around 60% below our budget.”

— Trevor Nkosi, Information Officer and IT Manager, Urban Brew Studios

Solution: Wasabi Hot Cloud Storage + Signiant + iconik  

At the outset of the project, Trevor knew he wanted a hybrid model for storage. Urban Brew’s existing storage array was robust but the team would still need additional capacity if they were going to deliver the project on time. Expanding into the cloud would give his team ample room to grow and set Urban Brew apart from the pack. Still, Trevor was hesitant to adopt a hyperscale cloud due to the unpredictability that transaction fees such as egress or API calls would bring. Amafu Technologies, Urban Brew’s technology solutions provider, introduced them to Wasabi. With simple, predictable pricing, Wasabi was leagues ahead of other cloud storage services. Their Reserved Capacity Storage payment model coupled with the lack of egress and API charges made Wasabi a budget friendly alternative. “It actually felt great because Wasabi came in around 60% below budget at the time,” Trevor said.  

With their cloud storage in place, Urban Brew selected iconik as its media asset manager, but there was still one piece left to complete the solution. Amafu Technologies and Trevor knew that ingesting 24 4K-camera cards to the cloud in a single day would be horribly inefficient. With only days before shooting was set to begin, Amafu Technologies set up Urban Brew with Signiant file acceleration. Signiant is a point-to-point file transfer service that allows for files to be sent from one location to another—in Urban Brew’s case, on-premises data storage to Wasabi—at extremely high speeds. The entire solution came together quickly and allowed the production team to quickly offload the day’s footage into their cloud-based MAM.  

Room to grow 

Moving their additional storage capacity to the cloud has given Urban Brew the freedom to expand their storage capabilities and remove administrative inefficiencies, beginning with their archive strategy. “Once the production is done, under normal circumstances, we are asked to LTO all this footage and ship to client. With our content in Wasabi cloud, we can simply do a cloud-to-cloud bucket transfer and share with the client, and eliminate the additional LTO tape costs,” Trevor said. The transition has saved the team from burdensome CapEx costs, too. “In the last two years, prior to moving to Wasabi, we've had to spend over R12,3 million rand [$633,440 USD] on storage alone,” he said. Now the Urban Brew team can easily spin up new storage as needed without the demands of adding new hardware. The added flexibility will grant the production house the freedom to take on new, more data demanding projects entering the region and for his business to grow along with his data.  

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