Storage is storage, isn't it?

By Mark Daniel

It used to be that people wanted the fastest storage they could get for the lowest possible cost.  What’s the bandwidth and what is the cost per terabyte?  That’s what everyone was asking.  While that thinking is still floated around by some, most everyone else has found that limiting the discussion to bandwidth and speed has led to some major mistakes in choosing a successful storage solution.  Let’s look at some of the other factors to building a successful content storage solution.

 Humans versus the machines

Sounds like an old Arnold Schwarzenegger movie, right?  It’s not.  It’s the way you need to think about how your content data will be flowing out of the storage solution.

Humans think one way; sequentially.  We need to see item 1 followed by items 2 and 3, in order.  Humans don’t do random or least not many of us (kudos to you randomized folks).  We see events unfold in real time.  We hear the first measure of the symphony before we hear the second.  That’s sequential I/O (Input/Output).  If you have humans (in our industry, the humans are our artists) in the mix, you will need to feed them information in a sequential manner.  Editing, compositing, color correction and more; whatever demands the skill and touch of an artist needs to be treated sequentially.

Machines are different.  They don’t think; they process.  They don’t use judgment; they use rules.  They don’t do one thing at a time (usually); they multitask.  If the rules state that content must be worked sequentially, that’s fine.  They wait the milliseconds they need to find the right piece of data and request it if they don’t get it.  While they wait, they work another task.  In fact, the more tasks they work on, the more the data comes flying at them from all sorts of different sources.  Mixed all together, that data becomes random.  Random I/O actually facilitates the multitasking that you want a computer to perform.  If you try to transcode video in bulk, you are probably doing more than one program at a time and putting each program into multiple final forms.  That’s random I/O.

Now here’s the glitch; many storage systems are built to handle either random OR sequential I/O.  They may work great for one, but fall on their faces on the other.  One size does not fit all.  Never has and never will.

At NetApp we have different tools for different jobs.  That’s the way to real success.  Many other storage vendors do one form of I/O or the other very well, which can cause problems when the workflows require something they don’t do well. It’s like trying to build a watch with a hammer (spoiler: you won’t get far). 

I’m sure you already know this, but you need a company that can help you understand the nature of your data needs so you can make the right comparisons and decisions.  NetApp has built an M&E industry team that has worked with many other companies facing the same challenges that you face and can help you benefit from seeing what others have done.  We can also help you explore new technologies, such as object storage, virtualization, and cloud architectures as they become beneficial to your operations.

For more information about NetApp from the Media and Entertainment team, please stayed tuned to this blog. Our new community page is intended to foster just that, and for community to grow we need conversation, so feel free to comment below, ask questions, and please become a regular reader.  If you have any specific topics you would like us to cover, please send your ideas to me at

Let the show begin!

Mark Daniel

Manager – Media & Entertainment Vertical – Americas Sales
NetApp, Inc.