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Hybrid, Holistic, High Performance: Evaluating Evolving Storage Technologies

Hybrid technologies offer a few key advantages: efficiency, scalability, reliability and the ability to handle high-traffic storage requirements.2/28/2017 11:30 AM Eastern
From Fujifilm Dternity brand video

Whether it’s because of the demand for increased efficiency, the reality of our 24/7 always-on news cycle or simply escalating costs, the industry finds itself at a crossroads: should we stick with stalwart storage technologies of the past or should we invest in something new? Which road to take?

The “hybrid” technology moniker has in recent months been stamped on everything from cars to refrigerators: LG announced a touchscreen-enabled fridge with Amazon Alexa integration at CES in January, for example, and Whirlpool’s Wi-Fi-enabled washer/dryer can automatically reorder detergent from Amazon when it gets low.

Quantum QXS Q-Tier intelligent data tiering 

Likewise, “hybrid” finds applications in the realm of data storage. According to systems integrators who work with the technologies and the manufacturers who develop them, hybrid technologies offer a few key advantages: efficiency, scalability, reliability and the ability to handle high-traffic storage requirements.

Best in Class

“Today, hybrid storage comes up in the world of media and entertainment. There are many storage technologies out there, and no single storage technology can be best in class for all of the different use cases,” says Dave Van Hoy, president of systems integration firm Advanced Systems Group (ASG). “And that has led to a lot of hybrid workflows.”

Is mixed SSD the right choice, or spinning disk? “You really have to look at your applications to figure out what to use where. If I have an application that I am going to write once and read many times, SSDs are fabulous. But SSDs have other trade-offs: they’re fairly expensive compared to disk, and they have lifecycle limitations. Spinning disk gives you huge economy of scale, but if you want to make it fast, you offload to help out the disk,” he says.

Facilis TerraBlock storage options

Quantum’s QXS hybrid storage system uses “intelligent data tiering” to enable performance as speedy as if it were all flash, but with the sophisticated data management and other benefits of disk. Intelligent tiering works to keep the most frequently requested data in the highest performance tier.

“For media and entertainment applications, hybrid storage gives users a system that can handle random I/O and support small file workflows such as animation and special effects at a much lower cost than an all-flash array,” says Quantum’s Dave Frederick, senior director of product marketing.

Long-Term Protection

The flagship shared storage offering from Facilis, TerraBlock Hybrid24, combines enterprise-class SSDs and traditional spinning disk technology to give users the ability to dynamically assign volumes where performance matters most. Most importantly, users never have to waste valuable space on SSDs with persistent data, since spinning HDs in the same enclosure are used for automated offload and mirroring.

A single TerraBlock Hybrid24 installation offers broadcast and post organizations high-speed storage for 4K workflows and collaborative multi-seat shared storage for more traditional HD editorial.

Fujifilm Dternity NAS architecture

A Holistic Approach

Dternity, a scalable deep storage solution from Fujifilm, broadens our definition of hybrid a bit as it uses both hybrid storage media (tape/disk) and hybrid storage locations (on- and off-premises). Dternity unites the performance of disk and the economics of tape with a soupçon of cloud, delivering primary storage, backup and off-site protection in a single solution.

The Dternity system uses LTFS standards to provide a file- and project-based workflow in which files can be dragged and dropped into the Dternity NAS or moved via VPN into the Dternity Media Cloud.

Mix and Match

Improving workflow is a key benefit of shared storage systems like XStream EFS from EditShare. Martin Bennett, director of marketing at EditShare, says that hybrid storage solutions are “offering customers immense versatility in the face of challenging technology and market changes.” He adds, “Our solutions allow clients to leverage the best the cloud has to offer, along with traditional on-premise solutions.”

XStream EFS is a distributed scale-out storage system developed to support large workgroups requiring high-bandwidth, high-volume media ingest, transcoding, online collaborative editing and multiplatform distribution of HD, 2K, 4K and beyond. The newest version of XStream EFS touts a mix-and-match architecture, allowing users to combine high-performance SSD, performance-optimized HDD and cost-optimized HDD nodes.

XStream EFS allows users to dynamically define the combination of storage technology and file protection that is applied to media and project spaces, allowing users to optimize storage technology and file protection for each step in their postproduction workflow.

Intelligent Storage

Avid NEXIS 5U

Avid’s NEXIS solution is described as “intelligent storage for real-time media production” because of its ability to scale and connect to other Avid MediaCentral Platform applications. By enabling a mix-and-match setup of engines, users can form virtual pools of storage to streamline, expand and accelerate workflows, according to the company. In this manner, NEXIS can grow with a company at each stage of its development. When deployed, users will configure the scale-out storage solution to allot maximum performance to critical projects and dial back performance on less critical tasks.

Linking Arms

Signiant Media Shuttle hybrid SaaS architecture
Other hybrid solutions are linking arms with storage technologies to offer a similar kind of advantage. Two hybrid SaaS (software as a service) solutions from Signiant,Media ShuttleandSigniant Flight, accelerate the movement of large digital assets. Media Shuttle allows media professionals to transfer any size file and store files either on-premises or in cloud object storage, while Flight is a companion auto-scaling SaaS utility system that helps accelerate the transfer of large data sets to either Amazon S3 cloud object storage or Microsoft Azure. This kind of hybrid SaaS solution lets users pick the storage type or vendor that works best for their needs.
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