NOVEMBER 24, 2022

A History of Avid Shared Storage


And why media industry professionals trust Avid with their high-value content

Video storage has evolved a lot over the years—especially for professionals in the media and entertainment industry. Storage systems are now available with capacity of more than a petabyte, bandwidth of more than 3.5 GB/s, and the ability to support hundreds of active clients. At the same time, storage servers have shrunk to a fraction of the size of earlier systems, and can even be deployed in the cloud, thereby eliminating their physical presence in a facility altogether.

Avid pioneered the concept of shared storage for video workflows in 1999, enabling editors to collaborate on the same media and projects without overwriting each other’s work. The ability to share media over a storage area network was a gamechanger for post-production workflows, as it fundamentally altered the ways teams worked on projects. And although newer generations of storage technology continue to redefine the way feature films, television programming, sports and news, and other types of media are edited and shared with the world, the goal for Avid storage solutions remains the same: to enable and empower the creative abilities of content creators.

Avid’s long history with storage innovation has made its solutions the gold standard for collaborative, high-performance production workflows in the media and entertainment industry. Here’s a brief look at how it all started and why Avid shared storage remains the choice of broadcasters and post-production facilities worldwide.

A storied storage lineage

The idea for shared storage started in 1999 with the introduction of Avid Unity MediaNetwork, which combined Fibre Channel storage and networking hardware with a file system developed expressly for video. This quantum leap in storage technology met a range of customer requirements, worked with a wide range of video resolutions (including 1080p), and provided fast access to large volumes of media. For users of every size, Avid Unity also made workflows more efficient by freeing editors from silos of locally attached storage drives in favor of networked shared storage.

Across the media production industry, Avid Unity, along with the Avid Media Composer nonlinear editing system, quickly become the standard for video editing workflows. The revolutionary file system was a big reason for Avid Unity's success, as it enabled teams to accelerate production cycles and expand their ability to collaborate. Avid Unity introduced the concept of simultaneous media asset sharing, as well as the idea that media storage is as much about organizing assets as holding and protecting them.

In 2005, Avid once again revolutionized video storage with the introduction of Avid ISIS (Infinitely Scalable Intelligent Storage), which delivered multilayer redundancy and massive scalability, creating an entirely new playing field for real-time, collaborative digital content creation. This innovative system combined purpose-built, intelligent storage, integrated network switching hardware, and a new and more powerful file system in a family of modular, scalable servers designed to operate over low-cost Ethernet infrastructure.

Avid ISIS formed the foundation for a highly available, comprehensive, enterprise-level workflow, enabling more than 300 users to connect to a single pool of content and collaborate simultaneously. It was also an open system that offered tight integration with both Avid and third-party ingest, editing, asset management, and playout systems, making it an easy fit into any media production environment. In addition, its self-balancing, distributed architecture delivered reliably predictable performance under all load conditions.

The start of smarter storage

In 2016, Avid introduced Avid NEXIS. The world’s first software-defined storage platform for media workflows, Avid NEXIS took the concept of intelligent shared storage to the next level with a groundbreaking file system that can support any type of media production workflow—from the smallest boutique facilities to the largest broadcast enterprises. Featuring patented technology, the Avid NEXIS file system intelligently manages all I/O requests from team members using Avid Media Composer to meet all content delivery requirements, ensuring predictable and consistent performance—even during peak loads. This capability provides real-time delivery of content to the editing timeline quickly and frame-accurately.

The latest generation of Avid NEXIS storage engines was released in 2022, delivering the performance, security, and flexibility media production teams need to boost collaboration and productivity. The new F-series engines allow teams to work from any location by delivering secure, remote access to media and metadata across multiple storage tiers. Team members can work from home, in the facility, or on location with the confidence that their storage will provide real-time media delivery for the most-demanding production environments.

Intelligence isn’t just a strength of Avid NEXIS; today, it’s the heart of it. That’s never been more apparent than with the latest evolution of the Avid NEXIS file system: Avid NEXIS | VFS. As the control center for Avid NEXIS systems, Avid NEXIS | VFS virtualizes hardware or cloud storage into a single pool of shared storage, making an organization’s entire media library readily accessible to all team members. Users can pair Avid NEXIS | VFS with F-Series hardware engines for on-premises storage now and the agility to migrate to the cloud when ready—without having to reinvest in new software.

Powering production in the cloud

More than two decades after Avid introduced the concept of shared storage, the possibilities have expanded well beyond on-premise deployments to include remote and SaaS solutions, enabling team members to access assets regardless of where either is located. Avid NEXIS | EDGE takes this ability to the next level with real-time proxy editing workflows using Media Composer | Enterprise. Editors can work from anywhere with the same media access, workflow, and user experience as if they were at the facility. And with the power of the Avid NEXIS | Edge web client, team members can find, organize, storyboard, edit, and review Avid NEXIS-managed content at the facility, at home, or on location.

That’s not all. Today’s collaborative workflows can now be even easier to deploy. With Avid | Edit On Demand, producers can spin up a fully provisioned and secure virtual editing environment—complete with cloud-based Media Composer editing and Avid NEXIS shared storage—in hours, making it easy for organizations to scale teams and ramp up new projects at a moment’s notice, and then ramp them down when they’re done.

What’s next for Avid NEXIS?

What does the future hold for Avid NEXIS? Expect us to explore an even wider range of media applications and workflows. We’ll continue to look at advancing and streamlining our work-from-anywhere solutions, full team connectivity, and workflows in the cloud, along with further expansion of Avid NEXIS | VFS capabilities. Any more that we can’t talk about, but we can’t wait to show you.

For a closer look at what’s new with Avid NEXIS shared storage, check out our product page.

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