What I learned at NAB 2019

April 2019, Peter Thompson


Last week our team had the opportunity to attend the National Association of Broadcasters annual show in Las Vegas. The NAB Show is the world’s largest and most comprehensive convention encompassing the convergence of media, entertainment, and technology. With more than 90,000 attendees from 160 countries and 1,600+ exhibitors.

This show utilized all of the available halls at the Las Vegas convention center, and did a pretty good job compartmentalizing different aspects of technology and workflows accordingly. The crown jewel was the Central Hall, where you could find all the sexy moviemaking and high-end, front-facing technology.

As a storage company, we tend to fit into the “always need you, never want to see you” category, along with some of the grittier back end infrastructure companies and spent most of our time in the South Hall – both upper and lower levels.

Our goal at this show was to learn more about the Media and Entertainment space and how our distributed file service best solved issues related to file access over distance and addressed how to mitigate the problem of latency. We focused on meeting with object storage vendors, application providers (such as MAM systems), end users in the creative content and broadcast space, channel partners, and industry analysts, like the Evaluator Group. Additionally, we enjoyed catching up with many friends and past colleagues from Cloudian, Scality, Western Digital, Wasabi, AWS, IBM, ASG and Azure.

We were honored to be asked to present our solution in the theater at the Cloudian booth. We demonstrated that the combination of fast file access over distance (LucidLink), combined with one of the leaders in object storage (Cloudian), make for a powerful solution for the creative post-production workflow. For more information, check out our case study with John McNeil Studios in Berkeley, California.

One pleasant surprise was the warm reception we received from all the object storage vendors. While most have some form of file interface feature associated with their native object offering, they’re primarily NFS or SMB based, and face similar challenges when dealing with access over distance and large files. Adding LucidLink to their solution solves a lot of challenges their customers experience.

Besides the challenge of distributed teams collaborating on post-production workflows, another great fit is with technologies such as Media Asset Management systems (MAMs), which typically need to ingest an entire file before it’s able to index them. As one vendor put it, “That’s a pretty common question we get: how can we index files in the cloud without downloading everything first. And until now, our answer was always, sorry that’s not possible!”

This is a specialized industry. That’s why we went to the reseller specialist in M&E — ASG Technologies.  ASG has an impressive crew of industry experts that know this space inside and out. Their demonstrated level of integrity and strong customer focus is the perfect match for our business objectives and vision.

When it comes to storage and file access for the M&E space, it’s clear that current technologies continue to face conflicting issues. They must either:

  1. Move the data to the application by making a copy in multiple locations  (i.e. some form of file syncing)
  2. Move the application workload into the cloud, where the data is stored (cloud computing with SaaS, containers, and VM’s).

In other words, one is forced to compromise on either storage or compute because the file is expected to be near the application.

We found LucidLink offers the only solution that truly breaks the dependency between applications and files being co-located. We’ve proven that you can gain quick access to huge files regardless of the location and provide a delightful and seamless user experience. After our time at NAB, we are now even more motivated to help media and entertainment companies with their file and storage needs for broadcast, visual effects, post-production, and archive.

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