Going Back to Tape

Dr. Marc M. Batschkus, Business Development Manager, Archiware

As I attended a number of broadcast and video events this spring, the future of the storage landscape became very clear to me. Storage in the form of disks has become commoditized by falling prices and easy connectivity. Even high performance storage is moving into the consumer space with technologies like Thunderbolt. Many professionals collect large volumes of data, decentralised and without any clear planning. And who can blame them? When you can buy terabytes of cheap and fast RAID, why would you spend too much time strategising? Just store it all!

The demand is also driven by the growing resolution of production formats. These 2k and 4k formats have made their way into the production environment. Even if not used in full resolution, the large formats allow for more detail and provide the flexibility to crop the video. The cameras have even turned into “status symbols” ("Did you see the RED/Alexa/Blackmagic Cinema/Canon etc.?"). Here’s an interesting perspective: only a few years ago the predominant format was DV25 at PAL resolution with 13.8GB/h. Now a 4k format in ProRes 4444 takes up an impressive 812GB/h. Since the sheer detail and vast options in post-production make such a difference, who can resist temptation? The result? Even more data.

These huge volumes of data are not stored centrally and keeping track of files has become even more difficult. Companies won’t easily have all relevant data available, especially in media production where many external partners or freelancers are involved. They have to prepare for large amounts of data to be brought into the company and provide storage and interfaces to match (Thunderbolt!).

Backup and archive of those large data sets will be even more challenging because of the decentralized nature. Cloud services are of no use for these large amounts of data – at least for the foreseeable future. So here we are again, looking at LTO tape as the only means of saving and preserving large amounts of data for the long term, at a reasonable cost. While it might feel strange for some of those cutting-edge users to “go back to tape”, LTO becomes more widespread and will be the only professional choice.





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