AUGUST 4, 2020

How to Gauge Shared Storage Requirements for News Production

working on shared storage in newsroom

We need to talk about shared storage—the combination of easily accessible online, nearline, and archive storage that sets the foundation for multiple daily broadcasts in every station. It’s what helps to make the modern broadcast newsroom possible.

It’s challenging to assess your storage needs of today, and it’s even harder to make predictions for several years down the line. The broadcast landscape is rapidly evolving—however, so are the tools built for newsrooms. As you search for a long-term shared media storage solution, here are four factors to consider:

1. Reliability

The nightmare of drive failure is real. It’s not uncommon for a broadcast tech to have their own campfire horror story about drives crashing while putting together a show (and another, equally harrowing tale about the corrupted or simply vaporized media that resulted). A shared storage solution, particularly one that uses a large RAID, mitigates this risk of failure.

The broadcast world at large is already familiar with RAID, but not all RAID solutions are created equal. The more drives on hand, the better prepared a system is to deal with failure—if media is striped across 10 drives, the array can handle two drives going kaput.

The ultimate protection, though, comes in a system that creates more than one mirror of the media and has the intelligence to switch between copies in response to demands and drive failures. That may sound like overkill, but a shared storage solution that creates two separate mirrors of your media ensures that even if drive failure or corruption reaches into one mirror, your workflows stay clear.

With a 24-hour news cycle comes the need for storage that performs all day, every day—even when demand is high.

2. Performance

The demands placed on storage are on the incline. More footage needs to be available to more people, producers need to find the right footage right away, and your storage has to be equipped to deliver smooth feedback to every person working on the broadcast. That requires not just tremendous, scalable capacity but also drive performance and bandwidth.

A shared storage solution that enables your producers to search footage for phrases can be a tremendous value add, particularly if it enables real-time collaboration. Giving producers and editors the ability to edit the same files at once lets the whole team save precious time in a crunch.

Some of the “smaller” perks of shared storage may also have a surprisingly big impact. A gesture as simple as giving everyone access to the right graphics can boost your broadcast’s professional feel. Plus, having the ability to share teasers on social media directly from your software offers new ways to engage viewers.

3. Scale

Scalability is crucial to both operations and price. How many hours of footage can your system handle? How many streams? And how much will it cost to expand these capabilities? Graphics are complex and only becoming more so as time goes on—tech like augmented reality, while still not widely deployed by local stations, may well make its way into more broadcasts in the near future.

An end-to-end solution offers the ability to scale by automatically adding bandwidth along with capacity. This ensures that not only do you have increased space when you need it, but that more of the team can work concurrently on media.

Not every shared media storage solution offers this, however. Always ask about whether increased bandwidth automatically comes with increased capacity.

4. Price

Price should never be the first priority when it comes to storage, even if you’re under a severe budget crunch.

There are, of course, plenty of lower-cost options out there that can keep the newsroom running. But in an environment with constant breaking news, these solutions aren’t as reliable. Breaking news often requires immediate access to archived footage. With siloed storage, a human being has to manage and deliver archived media that is no longer in the nearline or online storage. The newsroom can’t afford to rely on humans for these duties—time is of the essence, and you certainly can’t be sneakernetting in these situations.

So, when breaking news hits, prioritize collaboration. After all, producers and editors need to be able to work shoulder to shoulder (even if working remotely) within a piece of media to deliver the news as quickly as possible. Beyond that, they all need to be able to see what their colleagues are doing. Not every shared storage solution has this capability, but it’s worth investing in.

Shared media storage managed via a central smart hub is one way to save time and money over the long haul—both in person-hours and ad-hoc panic storage buys.

  • Oriana Schwindt Headshot

    Oriana Schwindt is a freelance writer based in New York. She primarily covers the TV industry, dabbling also in travel and culture.

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