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Dive into data centres

Posted on Apr 5, 2022 by FEED Staff

The public cloud may not be the best solution for your media storage. MediaHub Australia provides optimised services built for broadcasters

It’s all about the public cloud now, right? Time to throw all that hardware into the bin. Get those servers out of the basement and put in a pool table. Using on-premises data storage is not only limiting, it’s downright dangerous, right? One plumbing problem in the office upstairs and you’re calling the post-production supervisor, explaining how the edit will have to be a bit creative because your hard drive is soaked.

You get the point. Offloading storage to public cloud services can relieve a lot of worry. And it is true that asset storing in the cloud looks like it will eventually become the norm. But it’s a mistake to let cloud-mania blind companies to the value – in some cases, the necessity – of on-site, hardware-based solutions.

A lean media start-up might be able to get away with doing everything in the cloud, using a few small drives around the office. But when you start getting to a certain scale or maturity as a company, you have to manage content in a more sophisticated way. 

Big broadcasters can quickly build up massive libraries. In the case of large firms, these might be in legacy formats – old hard drives, videotapes, even film or magnetic audio tape. Most of these organisations have large-scale digitisation projects under way. As assets become digitised, with valuable metadata attached, they need to be made accessible. When these old content libraries again see the light of day, it starts to become clear there is a lot of untapped value. Material that was destined for a lifetime of deep storage is suddenly available for reuse or licensing. 

“Data has been growing exponentially. It’s not linear growth any more, it really is exponential – especially in the media and entertainment industry,” says Alan Sweeney, CEO of broadcast services platform MediaHub Australia. “People are beginning to realise their data has incredible value. So, being able to access your material is key – not just storing it and having warm, fuzzy feelings that it’s finally safely put away.” 

A special kind of cloud

MediaHub was launched ten years ago as a playout centre for the Australian broadcast and media industry. Initially built for ABC and the country’s WIN network of stations, the company is now a digital infrastructure provider, serving an expanding variety of companies. Essentially, it’s a private, specialised cloud provider, optimised for media.

“One of the issues with Amazon S3 Glacier or any of the public cloud providers: if you have a problem, you don’t know where your data is, or who you can call,” says Sweeney. “If a client wants to escalate something, we could tell them exactly where their data is physically. In a worst-case scenario, we could literally pull the disk out and give it to them. Try doing that with a public cloud.”

MediaHub has shown that housing servers under your own roof not only affords you control of storage, but puts you in the position of being a service provider. Many businesses are looking to offload the responsibility of data management – often the public cloud. Companies who can keep that infrastructure ‘within the family’ can more readily partner with others. 

The big public cloud providers have worked hard to offer services – of which storage is just a small part – to the media industry, AWS being the highest profile. But organisations specialising in providing services tailor-made for media companies – or even specific branches of the media business – have the potential to offer a level of service and integration that public cloud providers cannot match.  

When it comes to moving files, video requires especially heavy lifting. People will generally avoid moving media in and out of the cloud, if they can. MediaHub operates on a simple, single-payment system based on the amount of data stored – avoiding some of public cloud’s ballooning costs. 

“We once worked with a client who said that two-thirds of what they were paying to use the public cloud were egress fees. That’s an incredible amount of money,” asserts Sweeney.

“With public cloud, when you first put it in, it’s your data – but then it becomes their data. If you try to get it out, you’re going to pay a ransom. We want to avoid that. It’s your data, so you should access it as often as you like; pull it out, put it back in again. It’s yours, use it freely.”

Creating reliability

ArkHub is the company’s low-cost storage system. In addition to offering a flat rate, it is especially friendly to media companies, with dedicated 24/7 technical support, millisecond access latency and its impressive 14 nines of durability. Three data centres around Sydney are connected by multiple fibre links, each of which can support 1.4 terabits of bandwidth.

ArkHub is built on Scality and HPE, with the HPE Apollo 4510 Gen10 system and scalable object storage. The Scality Ring solution allows for super-redundancy with no loss of performance or data, even if one of the centres is completely taken out. MediaHub employs two of the Scality Ring systems working in parallel, which makes the system tremendously secure. 

In addition to ArkHub, the company is now offering a suite of products, which help businesses with media management – CacheHub, ExchangeHub, FibreHub, FlexHub, MamHub, PresHub and StreamHub. 

Organisations outside of traditional broadcast are also knocking on MediaHub’s door, to provide them with secure media solutions – including financial institutions, government and the education sector. 

When a company opts for the public cloud, low entry costs are one of the most attractive features. Although, when multiple huge files need to be moved around, there can be a tipping point – machines stored down in the basement start to look more attractive. But they don’t need to be in your own basement any more. Data centres are definitely the industry’s future, but where your data centre is, who operates it and who it is designed for – these questions are laden with opportunities for media.

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