By Molly Presley, SVP, Marketing, Hammerspace
The M&E industry was one of the most heavily impacted when the pandemic hit. Demand for online content for entertainment and education increased dramatically while in-person video shoots were put on hold to allow for social distancing. The industry needed to shift almost overnight to computer-generated animations, visual effects, and repurposing content libraries. As the pandemic stretched from months into years, organizational and talent resources became much more decentralized and distributed geographically and across the various technology platforms used. And with that, the ever-increasing amounts of data followed the same pattern – outgrowing decentralized and distributed data management models.
Teams across all areas of M&E – from visual effects and animation to post-production and corporate video production – are finding they now have massive and distributed volumes of data and are challenged to use it in a cohesive, easy, secure, and cost-effective way across teams.
While many teams now work remotely and often are not local to their peers at headquarters or the data center environments, they still must use their preferred tools on workstations, in data centers, and in the cloud to be productive. To be competitive, companies must ensure that they provide their distributed workforces with the tools they need to continue being productive – allowing immediate, secure, and shared access to any and all data, regardless of its or the user’s location.
The Current M&E Data Environment
Several facets of the M&E industry have global data requirements, which have never been more at the forefront than they are today. For example, new demand for animation and visual effects content is constantly growing; it never slowed during the pandemic. Post-production high-resolution content workflows require higher performance storage and data orchestration than ever. And video production has become a central component for most enterprises in their employee training, advertising, and customer engagement.
The problem is that all of these elements require significant manual orchestration by IT administrators, and it is often disruptive and complicated for users to try to locate and access those files. We have reached a tipping point where companies and staff are beyond frustrated with the cost and clunkiness of current setups. They all know something is missing and needs to change, but what?
The Missing Link: The Global Data Environment
In a world full of new challenges where old solutions are no longer sufficient, a new solution must be created. The good news is there is one, and in this case, it is an entirely new environment called a Global Data Environment (GDE).
A GDE directly addresses the problems that result when users need the experience of local, read/write access to all file data across all silos and locations based upon their permissions but don’t have it. With a GDE, IT managers are able to manage all storage resources globally – without interrupting access to users or being overwhelmed by the complexity of silo-based point solutions.
The key ingredient to creating an effective GDE is the ability to leverage the multiple metadata types inherent in all data and storage to create a global metadata-driven control plane. This control plane can provide a unified view and control of all data across any storage resource of any type. As a result, workflows can travel across any storage type/vendor – anywhere – and do so completely transparently to users. It’s this ability to aggregate metadata into a global control plane independent of the data orchestration and services layer that really distinguishes a GDE from existing environments, which simply copy files between silos or leave symbolic links to files that have physically moved to other storage locations.
You’ve Discovered the Missing Link; Now What?
Many M&E organizations struggling to meet the higher demands of data with mostly remote teams have started implementing GDEs and are already reaping the benefits. Beyond the data challenges, one post-production visual effects (VFX) and animation studio, for example, found it easier to take on new projects without worrying about finding sufficient local creative talent. GDE changes the meaning of “local” when it comes to accessing data and talent; there are no geographical limits when it comes to building teams.
In addition, having a GDE in place saves the same company an average of 20 percent on cloud rendering projects by enabling content and leveraging the most cost-effective cloud computing region without concern for where the content was created.
Our world has changed a lot in the last few years, bringing new data and workforce challenges for which existing solutions weren’t ready. The good news is there is a new solution – a whole new environment, in fact – in which television and film creatives, content publishers, special effects artists, and corporate video producers can work efficiently, effectively, and securely in a new decentralized world.