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The challenges of enabling “on-demand” workflows are being felt across every industry driven by digital video. However, those who have large content archives or are struggling with supporting live events are facing particularly challenging issues. Sports video professionals need to deal with both. In this blog, I will give a high-level overview of how object storage enables “on demand” for sports video workflows. First, let’s level set on the definition of “on demand” and the resulting requirements.

What Does “On Demand” Mean and What Does It Require?

On demand is the enabling of delivering content at the end-user’s convenience. Depending on where you sit in the sports video lifecycle, your end user is different. If you are on the production side, your end user may be VFX or colorists, or possibly your client requesting a new project that reuses clips from previous games or episodes. If you are in broadcast, maybe the end user is a regional station or a subscriber. Or, if you are a sports team, maybe your end users are producers, executives, coaching staff, trainers or athletes. What delivering content at their convenience boils down to is that (1) you can find the file and (2) you can stream or deliver it to the required application or device when they request it.

How Does Object Storage Enable On Demand for Sports Video?

When evaluating data storage solutions, it comes down to your budget and requirements. It’s reminiscent of what Billy Beane did with the Oakland Athletics in 2002 by using sabermetrics. The A’s had a $44M budget, the third lowest budget in Major League Baseball (MLB) at the time, with the Yankees’ $125M budget being the highest. What Mr. Beane and his staff realized was that the traditional subjective form of recruiting often fell short and if he focused on what led to scoring, on-base and slugging percentages, he could pick up undervalued players that statistically had a chance against teams at the top of the budget scale. This led to their famous 20-game winning streak.

If your focus is enabling on-demand access or providing economical, anytime access to content, object storage is your best storage option. Object-based storage maximizes the efficiency of your budget by leveraging commodity hardware (similar to how Mr. Beane maximized the efficiency of his budget via undervalued players), delivering cost-effective, scalable storage that includes self-healing, rapid recovery, automated management, built-in replication (and other features) with instant content access. Best-of-breed solutions from object-based data storage vendors like Caringo have search, parallel uploads and direct streaming as standard features. This is why object storage is the enabling technology behind every cloud storage service and why there is an object store at the heart of every major video-on-demand service today (Netflix, Hulu, Amazon Prime and others).

Object Storage in Sports Video Workflows

So exactly where does object storage fit into Sports Video workflows? Below are a few diagrams that show where object storage would fit into workflows for private streaming and longtail video on demand (VOD), tape storage replacement and centralized backup. The sections in purple with the Caringo Swarm logo indicate where the object storage solution is deployed.

caringo-object-storage-streaming-and-longtail-vod-enablement, remote site, asset manager, active archive

caringo-object-storage-tape-replacement-archive-distribution-access, DR Site, Active Archive, Metadata, elasticsearch, remote access, HSM
caringo-object-storage-centralized-backup-and-recovery, mam, s3, nfs, macOS, windows

If Object Storage Is So Great, Why Hasn’t It Taken Off in the Sports Video World?

As with any data storage technology, being able to use object-based software-defined storage boils down to the protocol or interface. Historically, object storage was accessed through a proprietary RESTful interface. To interface with object-based storage, an application developer had to integrate to the vendor’s API. In layman’s terms, this meant object storage didn’t just work out of the box with applications like file-system-based solutions that relied on SMB/CIFS (Windows) or NFS (Linux). This led all object-based storage vendors to create interfaces for SMB/CIFS and NFS.

However, the tipping point for object storage was the proliferation and support of the Amazon S3 API. Now, just about every current application used by Sports Video professionals either supports the Amazon S3 API already or will in the next year or so. Support of the Amazon S3 protocol means you can use both the Amazon S3 cloud service or any on-premises object storage solution that supports S3.

Where Can I Learn More About the S3 API in Object Storage?

If you are interested in learning more about S3 API support in object-based data storage, register for our May 28 Tech Tuesday webinar: What your storage vendor isn’t telling you about S3. (if you are reading this after May 2019, watch the webinar recording on demand).

How Do I Know If My Organization is Ready for Object Storage?

  • It is taking too long to access video and project files from your archive
  • You need to stream or share internal video but don’t want to use a CDN and the files are too large to email or FTP
  • You need to support workflows that need access to archived content via S3, NFS and SMB
  • Cloud storage and NAS are too expensive and tape storage recall times are too long and difficult to manage

Research aside, if you identify with any of the above statements then your organization is probably ready for object storage.

How Can Caringo Data Storage Help Sports Video Professionals?

With all that said, object storage isn’t a panacea, but it is an increasingly important storage technology that enables on-demand access. We have some great resources that can help you understand the differences between data storage tiers, block storage vs file storage vs object storage, and how to migrate from tape storage to object storage.

As we’ve been introduced to sports teams, broadcasters, entertainment venues and universities, we started hearing a lot of common themes in their challenges. Here at Caringo, we started our search for an organization where we can learn more and where our expertise can be leveraged to solve these challenges. This led us to the Sports Video Group (SVG), and we are proud to be one of their newest members. SVG is a group that was created to advance the creation, production and distribution of sports content. If you will be at the upcoming Sports Content Management Forum in NYC on July 24 and would like to meet, let us know! Or, you can schedule a consultation with us at any time.