What’s the Link between Katy Perry and Tape?

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The other day while I was in town meeting with a customer I walked past a poster advertising the MTV Europe Music Awards, taking place in Berlin in a couple of days. Once I’d gotten the image of host Katy Perry out of my mind, I thought about how important the media sector has become for us.  

The switch to digital media formats has forced media organisations to reconsider and subsequently rearchitect their storage strategies, which has obviously been great for the industry. However, not everyone has lucked out and cashed in. The media sector has some very specific needs, many of which can’t be met by any old disk array.
One of the big factors for media companies – particularly with the digital switchover – is capacity. An hour of high definition video (or even 3 minutes of Katy Perry shaking her stuff) requires a significant chunk of storage, so costs can quickly start to mount as a company gets into hundreds of hours of footage.  More mature companies with a great deal of old film to convert to digital are particularly conscious of the whole $/GB equation.
Unlike those organisations forced to archive material by legislation, media and entertainment companies do it for a very different reason – revenue. A whole industry has grown up around packaging footage from sports, show business etc. as bite size chunks and “highlights” packages for syndication and re-use.
You can also never tell what seemingly irrelevant footage might turn out to be important – think about the classic clip of Clinton and Lewinski shaking hands that was played the world over after that particular scandal blew up. Someone must have spent ages poring through archives to dig up that little gem – but that effort probably translated into huge revenues. Take the recently released Michael Jackson film “This is it” – could the makers have ever known how much footage from rehearsals might end up being worth? That material went from DVD Bonus Feature material to being turned into a feature film which grossed over $34million at the USA Box Office in its first week alone.
Clearly we think that tape is the medium of choice when archiving huge amounts of footage and I would highlight the interesting project undertaken by NASCAR to archive more than 50,000 hours of footage on Spectra Logic’s libraries as evidence of this. A number of other large media and entertainment companies have also turned to tape in order to protect their content.
This vertical market is incredibly exciting and is very much at the forefront in terms of innovation where storage is concerned. Any IT department with significant archiving requirements could learn from media / broadcast companies, many of whom would happily proclaim (to butcher Katy Perry’s original lyrics somewhat), “I Tried Out Tape, And I Liked It…”