– Frank Huerta, CEO of TransLattice, says:

Today, film studios and production companies are often spread out geographically with collaborative teams working on tiny pieces of a creative puzzle from locations all over the world.  Imagine you are an animator in Australia and your role is to design the characters for an upcoming film.  Likewise, your counterpart in Brazil is responsible for creating the virtual environments where the characters live, while other artists and engineers are working on similar, yet distinct, parts of the overall project.  Amidst all of these team members, the director is in Los Angeles anxiously awaiting updates and final versions for approval by the executive team.

On a whim, the director decides the main character’s shirt should be yellow and not black.  Now what happens?  As you are busy making the necessary changes to ensure the character is wearing yellow, other artists may still be making edits on the original black-shirted character, potentially resulting in hours of lost production time.  So how do you synchronize petabytes of data being created on a daily basis?

Unarguably we live in a data-centric world and within the context of the example above, data synchronization problems can make or break a project.  Ensuring all parties working on a project have access to the most current files, anywhere in the world, is extremely important.

In multimedia and production environments managing metadata – or the data about data – has become a daunting task. These content developers are generating terabytes of data throughout the lifespan of any particular project, all of which has attached metadata. As multimedia demands increase and film continues to shift to a digital medium, many organizations are looking at the cloud as a new means of storing data.  Because of this shift, securing, managing and providing immediate access to data stored in the cloud has become an important area of concern.

Data – A Growing Monster

Transparency Market Research recently reported that the global big data market is estimated to reach $48.3 billion by 2018.  This is a staggering increase from the reported worth of $6.3 billion in 2012.  Clearly this means that there is a lot of data floating around that must be managed, stored, secured and made readily available.  This exponential growth can mainly be attributed to the vast amount of data generated by images, videos, games and streaming music and movies. 

Content developers have been dealing with this data explosion for years and have used metadata to help manage their data.  Metadata, automatically created in the background by software programs, stores important descriptors for larger sets of data, including size, encryption keys, path and file name, a crucial aspect needed by the software to manage data as it’s created. Without the metadata associated with photos, music and video files, it would be very difficult to properly manage content creation.  The digital media industry is primed for a solution that simply and effectively manages the growing mass of unstructured data, while simultaneously providing access when and where it’s needed.

It’s important, now more than ever, that content creators pay attention to how and where this data is stored, accessed and managed.

Databases Reborn

Content providers are looking for new ways to manage metadata so that all involved parties such as, editors, producers, engineers and developers – who span multiple geographic locations – can access, update and store data that is synched at all times.

One way content providers can address these challenges is by storing metadata in a geographically distributed relational database management system.  In doing so, content developers have access to local data that is managed by a single database, thereby resolving synchronization and data accessibility issues.

Scale Horizontally, Not Vertically

Decentralizing data is a great option for content providers looking to manage data performance that isn’t always perfect.  New technologies that decentralize data can improve business adaptability keeping users “synched” with one another. Unlike typical infrastructures that “scale up” with additional components to increase performance and backup, these new approaches achieve enhanced performance by “scaling out,” or in other words, by adding replicate database ‘nodes.’ 

These new architectural systems store data automatically across all nodes based on geography, usage and policy; delivering information where and when it’s needed. With this approach all data, and associated metadata, is replicated across the multitude of nodes to guarantee availability. In the event that a single node fails, users are automatically re-routed to a separate node preventing any lapse in productivity. Once the original node is backed up and running it will resume participation within the flow of data and local users are reconnected without ever being aware of the technical failure. Additionally, organizations have the capability of choosing where they want these nodes placed – either on-site or in the cloud – ensuring the appropriate response time for data retrieval. 

For production teams in the entertainment industry, geographically distributed databases can be extremely beneficial because they have the potential to synchronize metadata automatically thereby enhancing the efforts of the entire team, regardless of location.
Improvements in Economies of Scale

An additional benefit of geographically distributed databases is cost reduction.  Database architectures that allow for scaling out make it much easier to achieve performance than with traditional systems.  As location-based facilities are added, nodes can likewise be added either on-premise or in the cloud and as these facilities grow nodes can be quickly increased to keep-up with an increasing data demand.

As companies in the entertainment industry look for ways to realize economic benefits of cloud computing and virtualization, it’s becoming apparent that traditional database solutions fail to effectively take advantage of the flexibility and performance benefits of these new technologies.  

Organizations in a wide range of industries are looking for new ways to utilize cloud economics to their full advantage, while still maintaining control of the data and providing increased support for users. The industry is ripe for technologies that offer options for deployment on-site, in the cloud, or a combination of both.

Production crews and content developers need solutions that provide their collaborative teams access to the most up-to-date data.  To achieve this, basic IT architectures need to incorporate technologies that are resilient and prevent important data from becoming unavailable or out of synch.  Technologies that enable content developers with consistent delivery methods, available globally, is the next phase in maintaining an ever-changing, robust infrastructure managed by tight budgets. 

About the Author:

Frank Huerta is CEO and co-founder of TransLattice, where he is responsible for the vision and strategic direction of the company. He has been published in numerous trade publications and is a respected leader in the database management industry.  He has an MBA from the Stanford Graduate School of Business and an undergraduate degree in physics from Harvard University cum laude.