JUNE 8, 2022

Media-Centric Storage vs. IT Storage: What Is Right for Your Business?

Laptop at coffee shop running Media Composer

It isn't just big movie studios and post-production houses that work with video. As the barrier to entry for video marketing continues to shrink, video has become a pillar of many companies' marketing strategies. Now, the rise of remote work has created new demand for both internal and external video communications such as recorded training sessions, virtual presentations, and other collateral.

Whether your company is starting its own YouTube channel, creating product demo videos, or moving training online, media-centric storage can carry benefits over a standard IT storage solution. On its face, regular IT storage seems like a perfectly fine option. After all, you just need a place to park large files, right? But media production is so much more than just accessing large files. Understanding the differences between your storage options can help you maximize the ROI of your video operation.

Here's a handy guide to help you compare IT storage against media-centric storage.

IT Storage vs. Media-Centric Storage

The storage offered by your IT department is likely a simple redundant array of independent disks (RAID) or network-attached storage (NAS).

RAID storage's key benefit, as the name suggests, is redundancy. However, that redundancy may also slow down data writing times. NAS typically uses RAIDs, but it overlays a file system that makes it easier to navigate. These are necessary for IT applications, but insufficient for high-performance, real-time video production workflows.

Media-centric storage takes the benefits of NAS and integrates with a unique file system designed specifically for media—in this case, video. Able to ingest footage from cameras and other media sources, media-centric shared storage systems are specifically designed for video editing workflows, making it easier to access and search through content on the storage and enable instantaneous playout. This tech doesn't stand alone; media-centric storage is designed specifically to connect with video editing software, whether that's Avid Media Composer, Adobe Premiere Pro, or another non-linear editing software.

But beyond a media-optimized file system, performance is where a media storage solution really differentiates itself. Standard-issue IT storage simply cannot read and write at the necessary speed.

Optimize Performance and Collaboration for Your Media Team

When you're dealing with massive video files, especially with 4K and 8K (or higher) resolutions, you need to be able to read and write at higher speeds when you're working "online" (i.e., working directly with full-resolution media). Add in multiple people working from the same source, and your solution must be robust enough to take the weight of that video production workflow. That means more bandwidth. Depending on the size of your video team, you could need anywhere from 3 MB per second (for low-resolution proxy editing) to 3 GB per second (for ultra-high-resolution workflows) per connected user.

Unlike standard IT storage, media storage solutions allow you to spread media across multiple interconnected "storage tiers" according to the performance requirements or a given workflow: typically a high-performance online tier, a slightly slower but larger-capacity nearline tier, and a less accessible but much more capacious archive, or offline, tier. As video teams grow, being able to readily pull assets from nearline storage and bring them (along with their associated workflows) back online is critical.

Beyond bandwidth, many asset management and workflow tools for video production require media-optimized storage to function properly. Seemingly simple-sounding features—such as the ability to preview video files that have been parked in nearline storage—aren't available on regular RAIDs or network-attached storage that isn't configured specifically for media.

Think ROI—Not Sticker Price

You can purchase a couple of comparatively inexpensive storage servers and technically have enough space for your assets. However, IT-oriented storage servers are not optimized for media sharing and therefore the collaborative workflow and ability to share media is not as seamless, which could be fine if there are only one or two people who work with video assets.  However, if your video team is more than just a couple of people, the solution you land on should allow for a much more controlled flow of assets. This way, multiple people and teams can access the storage and media at the same time. You may also want storage that can connect to the cloud, either to have more space or to allow for remote editing. Scalability is one more place where a media-centric solution starts to look much more attractive. For most, you can add capacity and performance as your needs grow and add or remove users with a click of a button. Over time, such media-centric storage solutions provide better ROI than lower cost commodity storage.

Ultimately, what it comes down to is that media storage is much more than just storage. IT storage offers you a place to park your files, but media workflows require more. For those who are serious about growing their video production teams and video post-production workflow, media-centric storage is a vital investment in the future.


Adobe and Adobe Premiere Pro are either registered trademarks or trademarks of Adobe in the United States and/or other countries.
  • 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.

  • © 2024