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Avid Tech Talk is an insightful podcast for media creators that discusses the trends happening in media today that are driving change in the industry. In our debut episode, we chat with Josh Stinehour, a principal analyst at Devoncroft Partners, about the latest storage trends in the media industry, how it’s impacting production, and the strategies you can take to set your organization and teams up for success.

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Play now to hear…

  • Why broadcasters and post-production companies should embrace a distributed workforce
  • How the cloud and software-defined storage are enabling better technology operations
  • What factors you should be considering when making storage and budget decisions

Our guest this episode: Josh Stinehour

Josh Stinehour is a principal analyst at Devoncroft Partners, a leading provider of market research and strategic consulting services to a wide range of clients, including technology suppliers, media companies, and broadcasters. The firm works primarily in the media technology sector and publishes syndicated research reports, including the Big Broadcast Survey—the largest study of broadcast and digital media end-users. Prior to joining Devoncroft, Stinehour was a managing director for Silverwood Partners and a software analyst at EMC.

Storage Trends and Strategies episode summary

In the last few years, media organizations have been forced to change how they produce content in a way many weren’t prepared for. Thanks to the swift action by the industry and innovation from media technology vendors, production teams have been able to pivot their operation to a distributed workforce to maintain business continuity and keep TV and film production going. One of the key facilitators behind this shift is the adoption of software-defined storage. With the file system (storage resources) uncoupled from the hardware, teams gain more flexibility and agility from storage that automatically adapts to new demands, enabling greater efficiency. Storage resources can be quickly reallocated and scaled up or down as needed. And production can be easily moved from on-premises storage to the cloud for anywhere, anytime access.

The trend towards a distributed workforce

In broadcast news and sports, teams are now back to working in the facility but have the flexibility to work remotely as needed. In post production, many companies have embraced the distributed workforce model and are expanding their infrastructure to enable team members working from home to have the same experience as working in the facility.

This is a trend that Stinehour is seeing throughout the media industry. But it’s more than just being able to work remotely; it’s also being able to understand the benefits remote operations bring to a company.

“When I think about the most impactful development in our world, I actually don't think of specific technology,” he says. “I think you have this ability now with the tools that now exist—and the practices that now exist—for technology end-users to actually understand their technology operations, and that performance, in an objective manner and be able to communicate it to non-engineers, which is something, historically, that hasn’t been possible. That’s where I think we’re going to see incredible gains.”

Those gains are the boost in productivity he’s seeing, to which he cites cloud and storage virtualization as the drivers for making this possible.

“Instead of just thinking about [the option for remote work] being a benefit,” he says, “we can start to understand the productivity of our workforce—and that really should be how we’re measuring technology… People say [they are] doubling the productivity of their workers in a post environment. If I were that individual, I would make much more noise about what has just been accomplished. I think that’s an unbelievable statistic… That, to me, is kind of the bigger story—not the day where you can come back to the office, but [more of] look at what has been unleashed in terms of productivity from these distributed workflows.”

Embracing a distributed workforce has other benefits too. Organizations can help the environment since fewer people are having to drive to work. Team members can achieve better work-life balance. And media companies gain access to a broader pool of talent they can pull from, since they’re no longer restricted to only choosing talent within close proximity.

A smarter approach for choosing storage

These benefits and goals, Stinehour says, should be at the top of the decision-making process when considering such critical workflow solutions as storage. Yet companies often tend to prioritize other factors that—while important—aren’t the main drivers of how much measurable benefit they’ll gain from their investment.

“Why are we evaluating technology investments solely in terms of cost?” he challenges. “Let’s stop talking about petabytes and terabytes and costs per unit. Look at all the goals, like carbon footprint. A lot of companies have ESG mandates that they’re working towards. If this technology investment is going to get us closer to that goal, it needs to be evaluated accordingly and needs to be given credit for that… All the things [we’re] talking about—how that’s starting to influence what we buy, what we deploy, how we take credit for it—to me is the joy of living in 2022 in our industry. We’ve gotten out of this, hey—is it an incremental step up from the prior version? Is it a little bit cheaper? We’ve broken from that.”

How storage innovation is enabling better strategy and efficiency

What the industry hasn’t broken away from is the sheer volume of content being created. Pre-pandemic, the big story was all about the rise in consumer demand. OTT services such as Netflix, Amazon, and Hulu unleashed an endless parade of original content to meet demand, as subscription numbers soared and then skyrocketed significantly when lockdowns began.

As new streaming services emerged—including Disney+, Apple TV+, HBO Max, Peacock, and Paramount+—the increased competition led to a massive increase in production, forcing organizations to rethink their storage strategy. But this explosion of content doesn’t necessarily correlate with higher budgets; instead, better efficiency is required to stay competitive.

“In a universe where you have all this production growth, a naive view would be like, Okay, well if we do things the same way, if the production of content goes up 10x, we need to grow storage 10x, but maybe even more than 10x because it’s at higher resolutions or shoot ratios go up,” Stinehour explains. “But instead, the ingenuity of the actual end-user—in part because the necessity that budgets weren’t growing at 10x—you had to take other approaches and you had to develop efficiencies.”

Stinehour sees these storage trends and advances in technology as key for helping companies achieve better efficiency.

“I think it’s been actually remarkable some of the innovation that’s taking place. [But] the more interesting story than all these charts about subscription totals and viewership is the fact that the technology industry has been able to support that without material increases in the technology budgets [of content creators].”

He also believes that companies should make decisions based on media usage and the costs associated with it.

“You can see a world where the decision [is based on]… how much of that footage do I keep if you could actually expose what the cost is,” he says. “To the individual that’s making the decision, now they can make a much more informed decision. [They may think] hey, maybe I don’t need all these ancillary camera feeds… Or maybe you can go the other direction and say, ‘No, that cost—that’s worth it.’ Think of it in a sporting environment—‘Do I need all these camera angles?’… To start to inject that type of information into decision-making… that to me holds such promise.”

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