Post-Production's Transition to Cloud Storage

November 8, 2022By Lily McIntyre

Since Covid-19 changed the landscape for media operations, forcing the need for remote editing and other media workflows, the Media & Entertainment industry has accelerated its migration to the cloud. Far more prevalent today, a successful remote workflow solution relies on content to be quickly accessible anywhere, anytime, from production and post-production all the way through to archiving and distribution. Another crucial challenge for the industry is dealing with the massive deluge of data to be stored and managed. More content is being created than ever while resolution, frame rates, and other technological advances continue to increase file sizes. At the same time, content-hungry OTT streaming services need instant access to active media archives.  All of these challenges and shifting priorities point to an industry less reliant on traditional on-premises storage and offline archives to one that is leaning heavily into cloud-based solutions to scale their operations while simplifying and accelerating their daily workflows.

Mark Stolnitz, Director of Media & Entertainment Sales at Wasabi, recently joined Jeff Sengpiehl, CTO of Key Code Media and host of their Broadcast2Post web series, to discuss their insights into production workflows in the cloud and what to look for in a cloud storage solution. The two men have crossed paths before. In a prior role, Stolnitz established an internal media house for Hallmark, known as Hallmark Media (at the time, it was called the Odyssey Channel.) To build out a post-production operation for the network, Stolnitz called on Key Code Media, specialists in audiovisual equipment, installation, and aftermarket support, to create an entire in-house post-production headquarters, complete with a central engineering room.  Here is an excerpt from their conversation.

Jeff Sengpiehl: There are many changes to how production workflows operate today. What do small teams need to consider when selecting cloud storage?

Mark Stolnitz: Regardless of a team’s size, you must consider the total ownership cost. You have to worry about security and ease of use. Consider your bandwidth, connectivity, file sizes, volumes, and workers’ locations. You might also be concerned with getting in and out of long-term contracts. 

JS: With larger teams, are there other things people should consider when moving to the cloud?

MS: I would focus on data organization, using naming conventions, and looking out for illegal characters and file names because lots of data movement tools will move your files. But if you’ve got an illegal character, it might mess up your transfer. In all organizations, but certainly, in a large organization, you’ll want to understand what your bill will look like at the end of the month. With Wasabi, it’s very predictable because we don’t charge for egress or API calls.  In previous positions, I’ve had to go to the boss at the end of the month and say, “Well, here’s a bill, but I don’t know where these lines came from.” These lessons are being learned a lot right now.

JS:  What other things should people do when transferring from on-premises to the cloud?

MS: You must look at your total cost of ownership over time. On-premises storage has been rock solid for years, but the cloud is also rock solid. You have to consider your bandwidth costs for your total ownership cost. I would also say critical to all of this, your clients must partner with a quality systems integrator. Wasabi’s doing cloud storage, we are just cloud storage, and we’re proud of that. We do cloud storage very well. Our real key to success is partnerships, especially with companies like Key Code, in terms of understanding your clients and where we fit into the overall picture. So what any entity should do to guarantee their success moving into the cloud is to work with a partner that understands your use case, designs that workflow, and can help you through the process.

And most critically, I would add the proof of concept. One of the beauties of cloud, and certainly with Wasabi, is it’s straightforward to test. You can go on the Wasabi home page in a minute and have an active S3-based cloud storage account for a terabyte to which you can bring all your other tools, connect to it, test it, and kick the tires. As big as a proof of concept you want to do, we can work with you without anything having to be packed up and shipped to you or put in a rack. It’s instant. So, proof of the concept is everything.

JS: Do you have any customer examples of folks who have gotten into a Wasabi-based solution, and how have they benefitted?

MS: We have a solid partnership with Legendary Entertainment. They began using us for remote editorial workflow during the pandemic in cooperation with LucidLink to manage their file system remotely and use us for their archive. But there are many others as well. 

JS:  How does Wasabi differentiate from hyperscalers like AWS S3, Azure, and Google?

MS: Most importantly, price and simplicity. Wasabi costs $6.99 per terabyte per month, up to 80% less than Amazon. But Wasabi’s pricing is also predictable; we don’t charge for egress or API calls. With Wasabi, you won’t find those little nagging pennies per transaction you don’t even know are going on in the background that pile up, and before you know it, your bill might have hundreds of dollars that you probably didn’t budget for. We don’t charge for that; we’re strictly charging for the storage.

We pride ourselves on simplicity. Wasabi is one tier, always hot, and always there for you when needed. Data is safe with 11 nines of data durability. And again, critically, it’s about our partnerships, especially in Media & Entertainment. We have so many technology alliance partners across asset management, transcode, delivery, acceleration, and remote file systems: you name it. It’s simple because we’re based on Amazon’s S3 protocols. If there’s a toolset out there that you know, work with, and want to keep working with, odds are we already work with them, or we can work with them. In many products, we are just a pull-down choice in a menu.

JS: The wonderful thing about an S3 location is it’s like a zip code. If you put a different one in, it goes somewhere else and talks to that area instead of the one you think it was talking to. Just being able to plug those values in and go that’s what I think is one of the beautiful things about moving into the cloud. Once you decide what you’re going to do, it’s pretty easy to get there. Scale is not a problem. To scale on-premises storage, you must look at power, cooling, network connectivity, and much more. If you need to scale in Wasabi, guess what? Just put it there.

MS: You’re never going to run out of space.

JS: Exactly. So Mark, if you were going to come up with a tagline for what you would think people need to take away about Wasabi storage, what would that be?

MS: Well, I remember the adage in the industries like, “You can have it good, fast, or cheap. Pick two.” Well, I like to think with Wasabi, you can have all three. 

Watch the full episode of Broadcast2Post, “OnPrem To Cloud Storage Transition For Post Production with Wasabi,” on Youtube!

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