I had the opportunity to tour the Library of Congress film archive in Culpepper Virginia. There, in an underground bunker, the library has stored 140,000,000 feet of nitrocellulose film and 180,000,000 feet of safety film. As I walked deep into the bunker bored into the side of a hill, I could not help but think that the entire archive could be stored on just 2 racks of our very dense DDN storage. We are proud to be a part of the Library’s endeavor to digitize these precious creative assets for future generations.

In the days of nitrocellulose, the film editing process required the skillful use of a glue brush. Media asset management was accomplished with a card catalog pointing to a rack in the studio vault where one could find a can of film with a label matching a hand written leader. Today, we have seen several complete evolutions of the process from editing done on custom work stations through the use of commodity hardware and non-linear editing software. Storage has evolved through multiple generations as well and we have supported this entire process.
DDN entered the fibre channel storage market specifically for media with an arbitrated loop product over 20 years ago. Those were the first days of the Storage Area Network (SAN) and we functioned behind managed hubs and switches to enable the first collaborative environments. In 2000, we introduced a storage product with a custom ASIC that presented a virtual fibre channel environment. This was the first product to introduce a guaranteed Quality of Service (QoS) and was, in effect, a “perfect” disk drive that never varied in latency or availability. We even offered a management API that allowed post production facilities to guarantee privacy for users through scripted, managed, permissions to common archives which could scale to unprecedented sizes.

In 2006, we were the first to offer an Infiniband (IB) host interface which allowed SANs to be deployed with a lower latency interconnect. By 2008 we had developed an architecture that enabled complete virtual file systems to reside in a common memory space with the storage system completely eliminating the transmission latencies normally associated with a serial SCSI transfer.
By 2009 we decided that the industry lacked a highly efficient storage system for immutable, Write Once Read Many (WORM) data so we wrote the first object based storage architecture that completely eliminates the possibility of file system fragmentation. Access to data is accomplished through a placement system that is so efficient that the WORM can be 99% filled with data and still operate at full performance. We have recently introduced software that ties our virtual file systems to our Web Object Scaler WORM storage architecture so that the entire process of data ingestion through archive and distribution can be accomplished in an easily managed environment.
The evolution of storage systems to support the creative process is far from over. We will be introducing a product that can store data to a massive non-volatile random access memory (NVRAM) structure hosted on a switched system bus, not a storage bus. This will yield even better efficiencies for data intensive workloads like rendering and real time editing with preview. We intend to be the first to offer non-volatile media types that are faster, more efficient, and far more resilient than NAND flash. Finally, we will be the first to offer interconnect busses that allow even lower latencies than are possible today.

On June 30th, I will elaborate on this topic during my keynote presentation at the Creative Storage Conference on the topic of “The Challenges of Selecting and Deploying an Efficient Media Management Hardware and Software Architecture.” I’ll address how modern media solutions are rapidly evolving and how users are gaining better control, and more benefits from their data from ingest, to edit, to active archive without having to manage several isolated storage silos or content repositories.

Stay tuned. The next few years will be some of the most evolutionary and exciting in storage technology to support the media industry and we intend to remain the leader.

Creative Storage

  • Dave Fellinger
  • Chief Scientist, Strategy & Technology
  • Date: June 23, 2015