Robust and Agile: The Future of Hybrid Cloud Storage in Media Production,Robust and Agile: The Future of Hybrid Cloud Storage in Media Production | Shade
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Robust and Agile: The Future of Hybrid Cloud Storage in Media Production,Robust and Agile: The Future of Hybrid Cloud Storage in Media Production | Shade

The last decade, we’ve seen a proliferation of the “cloud” and how it can transform remote teams to work together. What is hybrid cloud?

Brandon Fan
Brandon Fan

The last decade, we’ve seen a proliferation of the “cloud” and how it can transform remote teams to work together. The likes of Dropbox, Google Drive, Backblaze, and more have offered cheap storage that scales with you. The cloud offers a great benefit: you pay for what you use: a recurring operating expense instead of a capital expense. The media and entertainment storage market was worth $6.9 billion in 2020.

But as we look more into at least the current cloud providers, you begin to realize the current cloud’s many shortcomings. To start, we can name a few: 

  1. Latency – the cloud has historically never solved the latency problem, why? Well frankly, it’s not cloud service provider’s issue, it’s the internet. The internet was never designed to be able to work with large files and transfer to everyone everywhere, let alone large gigabyte files that are produced in media production.
  2. Asynchronous “syncing” – Because of number 1, oftentimes, we get used to waiting hours upon hours for our data to sync from google drive or dropbox, wasting effective hours worth of editing, review, mastering and more. 
  3. Workflow – Most cloud providers (with the exception of few such as are not designed for the media professional in mind, with limited functionality around scrubbing, previews, support for video or audio (oh and don’t even think about 3D). The flip side is the case with exorbitant costs for traditional media asset management systems with long sales cycles and integrations. 
  4. HARDWARE that I’ve already bought – The majority of media professionals have already paid tens of thousands of dollars for high quality camera and lighting equipmenet, purchasing a Synology NAS for $1200 is a much better use of people’s time and money, especially whne it provides better latency, a reduction in “syncing” and improved workflow.

So it ultimately begs the question – what does the future of cloud look like in a media production world where the internet was never designed to help media production teams work in a remote context as we see today? 

Welcome to the Hybrid Cloud.

What is hybrid storage?

So, you’re probably pondering, “What exactly is hybrid storage?” Well, let’s tackle it head-on. Hybrid storage is a system that mixes your local storage resources with cloud storage services. Picture it as a blend of the security of traditional physical storage and the flexibility and scalability of cloud storage. 

Simply put, it’s like having the best of both worlds at your fingertips. On one hand, you have your onsite storage devices, including servers and hard drives, offering you fast, reliable access to your data. On the other hand, you have cloud storage services that deliver limitless storage capacity, virtual collaboration possibilities, and disaster recovery options. 

Now imagine mixing these two worlds; you get a resilient storage system that adapts to your needs, grows with your business, and protects your data more securely than ever. That’s the charm of a hybrid storage system.

This blending allows businesses obtain the benefits of both worlds— the scalability and cost-effectiveness of public clouds combined with the security and control of private clouds. 

Here’s another interesting part. Hybrid clouds also offer interoperability. That means, the two different cloud setups can communicate with each other, sharing data and applications. For example, during peak periods when there’s a high demand for resources, like during a heavy-duty rendering task, the public cloud can lend some of its resources to maintain performance. 

Moving even deeper, the hybrid cloud isn’t just one-size-fits-all. Companies can customize their hybrid cloud, selecting computing resources and storage options that are best suited for their specific needs. It’s about tailoring the system to meet your unique requirements. 

This hybrid nature introduces a level of complexity in managing both on and off-premises resources. But the benefits of flexibility, scalability and security can greatly outweigh the complexity, particularly for media production companies with dynamic and robust storage needs.

So what does this mean for your media production business? Well this means that you will be able to leverage the existing hardware and computers that you have already purchased and owned for editing, storage, etc. And leverage them in conjunction to the cloud to super power your agency. That sounds great right? Well that’s easier said than done as there aren’t that many options on the market. 

Let’s get into what a good hybrid cloud would look like. 

The Hybrid Cloud Should be Secure Sharing First

The cloud is built on the premise of sharing – that’s why people use it. Thus, in a hybrid cloud environment this must also stay the same. But this is quite complex – how do we share from a local NAS that is secured behind a VPN or NAT to someone with a specific email address or to a specific user? This becomes an IT nightmare for anyone under <50 people who doesn’t have a dedicated networks engineer or SRE. One option is to use a VPN mesh network such as ZeroTier, or Tailscale , but this requires every user to have an account with ZeroTier and Tailscale and have it installed on their computers. Oh and don’t forget, you still have slow latency anyways especially if your NAS is in California and your remote editor is in New York. 

That being said – we need secure sharing infrastructure – an interface and structure where just like the cloud, we can properly permissions who has access to what folders and files, have access expiration so users don’t have access forever, and have audit tracking logs so we know when and where specific assets are downloaded. 

Google drive does this well with a concept of shared drives, file and edit access, and role based permissions across a variety of drive and shared drives. This allows the ultimate flexibility into segmenting out your content. Applying this concept to a NAS would make a lot of sense when it comes to building secure first sharing. 

The Hybrid Cloud Should Inherently be Faster

There’s no point in adopting a hybrid cloud approach if accesing the NAS is slower than using the cloud. Thus, any hybrid cloud solution should produce a technological innovation to make working with NAS’s remotely fast and efficient. Companies such as LucidLink have taken initial stabs at this, but oftentimes the management and transfer of such data can cost a lot of money (so be careful how much you use). 

Thus, choosing to adopt a hybrid cloud approach is also about optimizing where your data is located, properly syncing it across locations will be an imperative function and a technical lift to properly get set up. Having proper cache locations in which quick access to specific files or folders will be a key component into making any hybrid cloud system faster.

The Hybrid Future Just Isn’t Here Yet

It’s true, the full potential of hybrid cloud storage systems hasn’t yet been universally adopted or fully realized in the media production industry. However, this doesn’t mean its future isn’t bright or important. On the contrary, the pressures arising from ever increasing data volume, the need for real-time access to data, and the importance of data security make the adoption of hybrid cloud systems almost an inevitability. 

It’s not easy for media production companies to ride the wave of technological advancements, especially when dealing with huge amounts of data. On the horizon, we can see the footprint of a robust hybrid cloud system powerful enough to handle even the most rigorous demands of media production companies. It is capable not only to store and manage data but also to analyze it in ways that deliver insights, streamline workflows, and drive decision-making. 

With these new capabilities, media companies can turn data into strategic assets, producing content faster and more efficiently. And by blending the best of private and public cloud models, they offer unprecedented flexibility, scalability, and security for high-capacity, performance-intensive workloads. 

So, while the hybrid future may not be fully here just yet, there’s no denying the transformative impact it will have on the media production landscape. As media companies catch up with the pace of technological innovation, they will unlock new opportunities, opening up innovative ways to create and distribute content. 

Shade’s Perspective

Here at Shade, we are building a future of what we believe a hybrid cloud is. Specifically, we’re excited about being able to work with your files in a smart, fast, and real-time way that seamlessly unifies your files that are on your NAS with assets that can be in the cloud. This is a complex problem, especially with large media files. Again, how do you work with an internet that was never designed for it? 

We’re building a smart layer that not only helps you store and share, but also search and access your petabytes of data that you’ve accumulated over the last decade. Interested, chat with us here.

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