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Moving Media Storage Technologies: Applications & Workflows for Video and Media Server Platforms

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Storage technologies have fundamentally changed the landscape of digital media in a profound way. Gone are the days of using a single hard disk drive on a workstation as the sole means to store digital content. Nearly vanished is the practice of capturing video and audio only on videotape. The practice of transferring videotape recordings into an edit station and then manipulating sequences of images and sound has matured to the point that the content now goes straight from a file captured in a camcorder to a storage system where any number of other activities will happen. This is what the industry has coined “digital” or “file-based workflows.”

Videotape as we know it is close to the end of its practical life. The fledgling domain of storing images as files is well onto its way toward becoming the default means to capture, store, and work; driving digital workflows forward on an almost incomprehensible schedule. As a consequence of this new generation of digital workflows, the volumes of unstructured data are growing to staggering proportions at unprecedented rates. Managing these files has become a science, taking the IT world and placing it into another dimension.

In the not-too-distant past, data would simply be stored on disk or on tape with those peripheral devices simply connected to a server or a local workstation. The storage platform, be that as it may, was considered a peripheral entity to the computer. Issues surrounding security, permissions, access rights, and protection were handled by the server; the duty of editing or producing was left to the workstation or PC. Storage management was rather straightforward; but that is no longer the case.

Storage is now an entity unto its own, detached and independent from the computers and workstations, especially in the media content, production, and editorial world. Storage is now just a segment of the overall system of tools that users employ to do their work. For this new storage environment, the term “storage network” was conceived. It started out simple: attach a self- contained box with a disk drive or two to a network port or a bus (e.g., SCSI, Firewire, USB, etc). Begin working. Simple enough, yes. Add more workstations, attach the storage to Ethernet, add more connections, start sharing files among the workstations, and soon you ran out of storage. No problem, add another networkattached storage (NAS) box.

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