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In this episode, Avid’s Ed Harper, director of product management in creative products, storage, and cloud, and Kevin Usher, director and senior evangelist in video, post, and storage, visit the show to talk storage. Hear them discuss the key trends and challenges driving cloud adoption; Avid’s most forward-thinking and intelligent virtual file system, which supports the push to the cloud; the new Avid NEXIS F-series storage engines; and what the future may hold in terms of technological shifts in cloud innovation.

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What’s driving cloud adoption?

Media organizations are continuing to move production to the cloud, adopting as-a-service style offerings and accelerating the evolution of higher resolution media formats for content. They’re also making more content—and a lot of it. These changes have been driven by a handful of key trends that Harper and Usher lay out.

First and foremost is the ever-present drive to increase production volume. Media organizations are looking to make more content, in more formats, at a higher quality.

“It’s about doing more at a way higher quality,” Harper says. “There are more shows, more versions of shows, more teasers for shows. Even for a standard half-hour thing, there are 20 different versions of that now.”

He explains that everyone is continuing to push toward working remotely—an observation that is echoed by all corners of the industry. But the emphasis now is less about a quick migration and more of a thoughtful long-term migration.

“Obviously, [remote working] got turbocharged a couple of years ago, and that was obviously by need,” Harper explains. “There was a whole lot of duct tape, super glue, and nasty, not-efficient workflows. Now everybody’s realizing that not everybody is coming back into the office, so we need to make those workflows work—and make them work so that we can actually collaborate. Not just sort of getting work done.”

There’s also a shift in team composition that Usher identifies.

“We’ve kind of moved from small, collaborative teams working on-premises to the need for much more flexibility in the way storage is deployed,” Usher explains. “It’s not just about a group of people connected to shared storage working on individual projects—rather, it’s true collaboration.”

Contributors need access to the same content, simultaneously, while dispersed across time zones and continents. And they need to do so by the hundreds. That’s another reason why there’s been a significant uptick in interest in cloud deployments.

What are the challenges of cloud adoption?

Capacity, connectivity, and performance are the baseline needs that have always played important roles in the efficacy of a storage system. But security has become the standout focus as of late.

“Security is definitely one of the biggest concerns we see,” Usher points out. “How do I deploy my storage to remote teams and contributors in a secure environment where everybody can connect safely and see their media?”

He’s also quick to point out that although security has the most weight among the many challenges, the others are compounding, creating a web of variables and checks and balances. Migrating to the cloud is complicated.

“It’s no longer just about working in an on-premises environment, where you can maintain very high security standards,” Usher emphasizes. “But the adoption of remote contributors, cloud, hybrid, mixed-storage tiers, whether you’re working with ultra-high-performance standards like SSD or even NVMe down to nearline and offline cashes for media libraries. There are so many variables in the storage decision-making process.”

Where Avid NEXIS fits into—and strengthens—the equation

Not long ago, production personnel had to be on-prem to connect to Avid NEXIS. But today’s creators need to be able to work with the same tools and workflows as they would on-premises while working remotely, with no change to their experience.

The Avid NEXIS F-series family of storage engines is the latest (and greatest) in the evolution of Avid NEXIS. Running on a new processor architecture, these engines provide better performance and advanced connectivity options, which both ultimately serve to drive more collaboration. Plus, they can be added and used with existing Avid NEXIS E-series hardware.

One of the most significant strengths of Avid NEXIS is its new intelligent virtual file system—Avid NEXIS | VFS.

“The way it was originally architected, we obviously have very tight integration between on-premises storage hardware and the file system,” Usher explains. “But the file system was designed so that it could be used in other ways—for example, deployment in the cloud. Pretty much all of the major functionality of Avid NEXIS is in software—in the file system—so we’re not locked into only using the hardware configuration… One of the most important steps in terms of launching F-series was to ensure that we actually supported our customers in terms of the hardware that they have today on-premises. They can continue to scale and add on if they need more performance, more capacity. They can just add the F-series engines onto their current systems. Everything all ties together.”

Where subscription shines

Keeping with the trend towards software as a service (SaaS), Avid also announced new Avid NEXIS | Flex subscription options for Avid NEXIS, giving production teams more ways to acquire Avid NEXIS storage.

One of the strengths of these subscription plans is that they allow organizations to deploy Avid NEXIS | VFS on their existing cloud storage.

“Going down the subscription path actually gives a lot of flexibility,” Usher explains. “We can initially go with a subscription as an on-premises solution [with Avid NEXIS hardware] and then after a few years, when the customer is ready—and it’s not an instantaneous move—they can choose then to take the Avid NEXIS file system and deploy it on their cloud storage.”

With subscription, organizations can use this type of offering to substantially reduce risk to their bottom line. Companies thinking about a purchase of Avid NEXIS that have trepidations about the upfront CapEx investment now have an option for acquiring an Avid NEXIS system in a more economical way.

Where is innovation headed?

In Usher’s eyes, demands for more performance and flexibility are a given. The acceleration of cloud deployments is where to watch for what’s next.

“As our customers get more experienced with deploying editorial workflow solutions in the cloud, I think we’re going to see that sort of experience working its way into new ways of working that we haven’t actually seen yet,” he says. “Every time we go through a major storage change as we’re going through now, it actually brings about very exciting opportunities and new ways of working that we’ve never seen before. And some of these things are not always easy to predict because our customers are very agile at doing things. The way they deploy their storage, build their workflows… it really puts some fantastic demands on us and our solutions. And we have to constantly stay on top of that to provide them with everything that they need. Because they’re very, very creative at building some extremely versatile workflows.”

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