I sit down and talk with Eric Bassier of Quantum to talk about their new solutions, including updates to StorNext, and NVME storage solutions. and ActiveScale object store system for indexing and archiving footage. This is part of the Virtual Conference Coverage 2020
Me Why don’t you tell everybody A little bit about you? And of course, a little bit about Quantum.
Eric Bassier I am Product Marketing Manager here at Quantum, a data storage company really focused on video and other forms of unstructured data. And of course, we’ve had a long presence and participation in the media and entertainment industry.
Me What were you guys going to talk about at NAB?
Eric Bassier Well, yeah, it’s a bummer not to be down in Las Vegas this year. The NAB Show for us is always a great opportunity to meet with all of our top customers. You know, we typically have hundreds of meetings there every week. And it’s always a good opportunity for us to unveil our latest innovations. This year, because NAB didn’t take place in Las Vegas, we actually decided to host our own virtual live NAB event and it’s actually taking place this week.
We’re unveiling new innovations that we’ve brought to market across our entire product set and that really deals with end-to-end workflows, everything from very high-speed tier one production storage to massively scalable online archives and everything in between.
In addition to talking about some of the new products that we’re coming out with, we’re talking about some of the things that are top of mind in the industry. First and foremost is how to maintain business continuity in the age of COVID. And really, that means in media how to enable a remote workforce, how to enable remote online editing, remote production, so we’re talking about that.
And last, but not least, enabling hybrid cloud and multi-cloud workflows. I think more than anything in this pandemic, once our customers got through crisis mode, it’s really been an accelerant toward a more hybrid cloud and multi-cloud future, an accelerant of where I think we and the media industry were going over the next number of years and it’s forced a lot of us to get there quicker.
Me Yeah, absolutely. I’ve seen a lot of companies put out products that they weren’t planning to put out for a couple weeks or months. And they wanted to get it out in your hands. I know a few people that were planning to put together new shows and new events that just decided to push it into the virtual space. And they’re having some good success by doing this last minute thing, although it’s very jarring for sure.
Eric Bassier We’ve been really pleased with the success we’ve had so far. As I said, one of the most important things for us with NAB is meeting with all of our customers in this space. For us, culturally, it’s where we get most of our ideas for our next-generation products. We really look forward to working hand in hand with our customers to help them solve their biggest and their emerging business challenges. And we’ve been able to do that now virtually and just try to replicate that experience as best as we can.
Me Let’s talk a little bit about this press release. The biggest thing that you’re going to be talking about is your StorNext software, correct?
Eric Bassier Yeah. And as you said, a lot of companies have had to quickly pivot their roadmaps and maybe redirect priorities, maybe change priorities. And we’ve done that with our StorNext software. You know, for those that don’t know StorNext, it’s a very high-speed scale-out file storage system. The core of that is the StorNext file system.
It’s got great integration with a lot of the ecosystem of applications and the environment here in media and entertainment. It’s used very prominently in some of the biggest broadcasters, post-production houses and really throughout the media and entertainment industry, different facets of that – sports video, corporate video.
We’ve been on a path of really making the architecture much more flexible, much more software defined. Before the pandemic, we were going down a path of moving toward a software defined and then a hybrid and multi-cloud infrastructure. One of the things we’ve been able to do in response to COVID is we’ve actually adjusted our roadmap priorities and we brought some things in. And we actually are now accelerating our path to how quickly we can support truly cloud-based production and different types of workflows on StorNext.
Now this week, we announced the latest version of the StorNext software, which is version 6.4. And we announced a new enhancement that makes it easier to access content, access files and directories that have been archived to an object store. And that may be an object store that’s on our customer’s premise or it might be an object store that’s in the public cloud. I think it’s a step that we’re taking that’s part of this broader journey we’re on to really enabling true hybrid and multi-cloud workflows.
Me So what are the specific updates for 6.4?
Eric Bassier Historically with StorNext 6, which we introduced a couple of years ago, the big update that we made at that time was we introduced much better integration with public cloud object stores. And so that really was allowing our customers in broadcast and post and some of these other industries to work on content locally, and then when they were done, archive that content to a public cloud object store, and we had many companies that wanted to do that.
Over the last couple years, we’ve seen most of the use of the public cloud was really as more of an archival tier of storage. And we have good integration with all the leading public cloud vendors to do that: Amazon, Microsoft Azure and Google Cloud Platform.
What we then learned from our customers, and I think the path that customers are on now, is they want to use that cloud for much more than just archiving. The different cloud services have become an integral part of the production process. For example, some customers want to use cloud bursting capabilities for processes like rendering or transcoding where they can spin up a bunch of compute resources, complete that job and spin them down.
So what we’ve just introduced in StorNext 6.4 is a way to make it easier to access objects that have been archived to that public cloud object store. Historically, customers would have had to bring that back on premise into their StorNext environment to retrieve those files and work on them. We’re now giving them provisions and mechanisms to do that directly from the cloud storage that’s out in one of the public cloud provider’s data centers.
Me I’m assuming you’re also talking about NVMe. I’m assuming that’s playing a part in this whole thing?
Eric Bassier It’s been one of the biggest drivers of growth that we’ve seen in our business and something that many of our customers are looking at. Last year at NAB, we introduced our line of StorNext F-Series NVMe storage servers. This is really the fastest storage that we produce. And it’s allowing customers to really accelerate a lot of different aspects of their workflow.
We’re seeing customers that deploy NVMe in a StorNext environment, they’re able to speed up their render times by orders of magnitude. They’re able to ingest and process more high-resolution content at really high frame rates, and they’re able to achieve that while reducing their operational cost and complexity, because they can reduce the number of servers that they need. And they’re able to get that extremely fast performance over a less expensive, less complex Ethernet infrastructure, as opposed to a fiber channel SAN.
We see NVMe as something that’s going to continue to be really widely adopted in the media industry over the next couple years. Very recently, we introduced a new, more entry-level NVMe storage server called the Quantum F1000. And we’re showcasing that this week as part of our virtual NAB event as well.
Me How? How is that different from the other ones?
Eric Bassier Last year at NAB, we introduced the first storage server in our F-Series, this was called the F2000. And it was really designed to be used for workloads that require the highest levels of availability. So the design of that product itself has redundant controllers, dual ported NVMe drives, redundant hot swappable everything, with built-in failover. And we’ve seen some really good adoption of that, and that product is in production at some of the biggest corporations, some of the biggest broadcasters in the world.
What we learned over the course of this last year was we had many customers and partners saying they love the benefits of NVMe, they want to deploy it as part of their infrastructure, but they don’t necessarily need those levels of availability, which come with a price and with a cost.
So we’ve introduced the F1000, which is a 1U NVMe storage server with 10 NVMe drives. It starts at a capacity point of about 38 terabytes usable and it really is a more entry-level NVMe storage server.
We have customers now that are deploying that as part of their infrastructure. It’s been great because within a StorNext environment, they can deploy a small pool of NVMe that maybe they can use for rendering or maybe they have a couple of editors that are working in 8K at 60 frames per second and they need that kind of extreme throughput and performance, but they can keep the bulk of their data, the bulk of their content stored on lower-cost hard drive storage.
With StorNext, we give the ability to mix and match those technologies so that our customers can achieve the right blend of performance and cost that works for their workflow and for their business.
Me And with StorNext 6.4 I could see that just really exploding any type of media – or non-media – for that matter, anybody that needs to store security cam footage or anything like that would want to have some power behind their systems.
Eric Bassier Yeah, absolutely. And you know, some of those other markets and use cases outside of media production, those are becoming increasingly important for us.
You’re right, I mean, I liked what you said. Earlier this year our StorNext software actually won an Emmy. We won a technical Emmy for our early contributions into the field of HSM or hierarchical storage management. And you see us building on that now with the ability of our software to move data between these different pools of storage, these different tiers of storage.
You see us building on that now with this addition of the ability to move data between NVMe storage pools and hard drive pools, and also building on our capabilities to archive content, where for many years we’ve been a leader in archiving content to digital tape, and many of our customers in media, their digital tape archives are managed by StorNext. We’re now adding the ability to archive content to the cloud. And then in 6.4 making it easier to access that content in the cloud and get more value and insight out of it. And that’s certainly an area that we’re developing very extensively and investing a lot in, is this notion of being able to manage data between pools of storage.
Earlier when we talked about hybrid and multi-cloud, that’s really where we think a lot of the world is going. It’s about the ability of these companies to move data where it needs to go. If they want to use cloud services from a certain cloud provider, they can do that. We want to be that engine in the middle that allows them to manage their content, put it where it needs to go, place it where it needs to go, based on their workflow and based on what they’re trying to achieve.
Me Absolutely. And of course, you’ve been going for a long time as StorNext. I remember my first NAB that was one of the first places we stopped at where I learned a little bit about StorNext. So I’m glad to see that you guys are pushing forward and winning Emmys for that matter.
Eric Bassier It was very exciting. There was going to be a red carpet ceremony in Las Vegas, I was looking forward to donning a tuxedo and receiving the Emmy but we’ll have to do that virtually I guess.
Eric Bassier StorNext has a rich heritage in media and entertainment. Over the years, not only have we built a great product, but it’s very well integrated with the media and entertainment ecosystem – both asset management applications and different types of editing applications, and others and that’s something that really sets us apart.
It’s something that sets StorNext apart and we’re going to continue to build on that going forward. And then for us the next stage of StorNext is that completely software-defined architecture. Where we see the world going very quickly here is people may want to run their applications on StorNext, but they may not want to buy servers from us or from a different vendor. They may want to run a StorNext in Amazon or run StorNext in Azure, or Google.
Our perspective is give them that ability. And it achieves a lot of the vision for where most media companies are trying to get to over the next number of years, which is more elastic compute and storage resources, abstract the technology from the creatives and the users so they can focus on creating content, delivering it, and building a better engagement with their fan base. And that’s what we’re committed to and the 6.4 release is just a step on that journey.
Me Tell everybody where they can go to find out more information about StorNext and Quantum for that matter.
Eric Bassier Obviously, our website is a great resource there – www.Quantum.com. We’ve got a host of different resources and different industries we’re in and details on the product. And we make it pretty easy to request a live demo as well. That’s something that is becoming increasingly popular these days as customers evaluate different forms of technology. For those that have a relationship with Quantum or if you’re interested, reach out to your local VAR partner, or reach out to your local Quantum representative. Check out Quantum.com
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