A New Approach to Storage for Media and Entertainment: The Two-Tier Model

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Spectra Perpetual Tiered Storage Header

Part three of three – Perpetual Object Storage Systems

In the previous two blogs in this series, we discussed the two-tier paradigm in content storage systems, and dove deep into the first tier known as project/production. In this blog, we’ll explore the perpetual tier. As mentioned earlier, the first tier (project/production) is file-based. The second tier, or perpetual tier, is object-based, and is designed to be a landing zone where digital assets persist over time. The perpetual tier stores raw content with any associated managed assets that require sharing across a team so the content is always available for future work, including editing, color grading, music scoring, visual effects, etc. As newer versions of assets are created, prior versions are kept on the perpetual tier for safekeeping.

This perpetual tier, where assets will live/persist, must be properly matched for high performance throughput, while working in tandem with the production tier. Not unlike the production tier, the perpetual tier scales in throughput performance from hundreds of megabytes per second up to gigabytes per second. Since the perpetual tier is based on object storage, Media and Entertainment environments benefit from the scalability of object storage, along with asset availability anywhere in the WAN.

Object storage is simply another way of saying “the web.” From its inception, the web’s HyperText Transfer Protocol (HTTP) was a simple method of sending an object over the public internet, whether that object was a web page, image or dynamically-generated content. Any web browser is a basic “object storage client.” HTTP has methods for efficiently getting and putting whole objects but lacks the notions of interactivity, object editing and random I/O. This simplicity, however, is a powerful enabler for object storage to operate at scale. Every object has a Uniform Resource Identifier (URI) which enables that object to be addressed – whether it’s on a server in the next room or a data logger in the remote wilderness. It doesn’t matter if the network topology or storage system is involved, or whether it is traversing multiple caches and firewalls. Objects may be migrated to different storage media or even moved from a company’s data center into a public cloud. As long as the URI remains unchanged, users will neither know nor care where the objects reside. The two-tier paradigm delivers the best form of data management by abstracting physical data location, with URI, and more efficiently moving data between production and perpetual tiers, thanks to Object API (REST) and HTTP.

Ultimately, any project not being currently worked on should be stored in the perpetual tier to free up expensive production storage space (Tier 1 storage). All major applications/data movement between the production and perpetual tier is managed natively through the applications that speak directly with the object storage system. Utilizing this perpetual tier delivers massive amounts of cost savings to organizations that house their data on high- performance, Tier 1 production storage.

Modern object storage platforms, including Spectra’s BlackPearl® Converged Storage System, provide an ideal environment for the perpetual storage of content and digital assets. The BlackPearl system uses object storage protocols to write data to object storage-based disk and object-based tape storage, while also writing data to public cloud or replicating to another BlackPearl based on policy. BlackPearl will manage the data effectively and perpetually, whether seamlessly moving, migrating, healing, or replicating the data while keeping the same URI available to the users. The cost savings are tremendous as content and inactive projects are moved off of expensive high-performance production storage, and preserved for future use indefinitely.

For a general introduction of the new two-tier storage paradigm, a look at the workflows that will impact the way the world uses digital information for the long term and a snapshot of the big picture trends impacting technological advancements in the data storage industry today, read Spectra Logic’s “Digital Data Storage Outlook 2019” Report.