Back that Asset Up! In an Intelligent Archive

Published on in Miscellaneous

By Janet Lafleur, Senior Product Marketing Manager, Quantum 

What’s the difference between backing up content and archiving it? Does it really matter? People use the terms interchangeably at times, but there are key distinctions in how these technologies protect and preserve content that can have a big impact in media workflows, including their potential to conserve storage capacity.

Backup applications copy data to a secondary location to restore content after a hardware failure or other loss. Efficient backup strategies offer rapid recovery; data is restored to the content’s original location. Archive, on the other hand, stores content on a secondary location to preserve the content long-term or to conserve storage capacity. With archived content, the assumption is that the content is unlikely to change, either because it’s never-changing “fixed content” or part of a completed project.

Traditionally, archived content is removed from the primary storage, but that’s not a hard requirement. Archive solutions sometimes include hierarchical storage management (HSM), which automatically moves content from primary storage to an archive, leaving links to the archived content. These HSM-created links offer the best of both worlds, conserving capacity on primary storage while maintaining direct access to the archived content from its original location.

These distinctions are important, but what’s more important is understanding how best to protect and preserve content at each stage of the workflow, while optimizing storage capacity.

Protect content starting at acquisition and ingest. The days of videotape or film reels on the shelf serving as a backup are over. As soon as the flash media is pulled from the camera, multiple copies should be made on hard drives and/or LTFS tapes. After the content is ingested to servers for post-production, the facility should have its own backup as well, preferably a copy that’s accessible directly from production storage, but not stored on the same disk array. Time to recovery is important: how long would your project be delayed after a hardware failure? And since raw footage is never going to change, preserve it in an archive. Intelligent archive solutions allow you to retain the files on active storage after archive.

Conserve storage space and protect files during work-in- process. If you archive content after ingest, you can free up space on production storage by deleting any media files that aren’t being actively used by the production team. While EDLs and files created by workflow applications may need to be protected with traditional backup software, there’s no need to back up the large media files that are used by these tools in read-only mode. When a project is completed, its assets should be archived for preservation, as well as to clear out production storage for the next project.

Active archives enable reuse and monetization. Don’t settle for an archive that keeps content locked away. An archive that’s accessible from production storage through an HSM-enabled file system or through a media asset manager (MAM) will help make the most of your assets. Direct access makes reuse in a new project or monetization for a new distribution platform much easier.

With HSM or MAM integration, archived data can be stored on digital tape economically without loss of direct access. However, for extensive monetization, the low-latency of object storage is making it an increasingly popular choice, especially now that more transcoding, asset management, transport and other workflow applications are being adapted to operate on objects in addition to files. Cloud-based archives are also growing in popularity, either integrated into a collaborative workflow for distributed production teams or as an off-site backup.

Simplify it all through automated, intelligent archiving. Protecting and preserving content efficiently at every step of the workflow can seem complicated. Fortunately, archive solutions with automation are available to simplify operations. For the best protection with the least pain, look for an archive solution that: (1) can preserve data in the archive while keeping it available online, either by keeping the data online or by linking to data in secondary storage; (2) allows you to create your own policies for which and how content should be moved to the archive; (3) gives you a choice of archive storage types, including LTO tape, object storage, and cloud storage; and (4) is integrated with MAM and other workflow applications for reuse and monetization. With an intelligent, fully-featured archive solution, your content can be protected, preserved and available to make the most of your assets—and your storage capacity—no matter what you call it.

About Quantum

Quantum is a leading expert in scale-out storage, archive and data protection, providing intelligent solutions for capturing, sharing and preserving digital assets over the entire data lifecycle. We help customers maximize the value of these assets to achieve their goals, whether it’s top movie studios looking to create the next blockbuster, researchers working to accelerate scientific discovery, or small businesses trying to streamline their operations. With a comprehensive portfolio of best-in-class disk, tape and software solutions for physical, virtual and cloud environments, they enable customers to address their most demanding workflow challenges and opportunities.

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