SVG Sit-Down: Cloudian CMO Jon Toor Believes Object Storage Is a Financial Win for Content Owners

S3 standard has opened the door to a wealth of new opportunities

Digitizing media assets for storage, management, and monetization is one of the great challenges facing the sports-video–production industry today. As technology develops, solutions become more cost-effective, and established standards streamline the process, there are more opportunities to cut through the clutter and tackle what can be an — at times — overwhelming task.

A technology company on the rise, Cloudian exhibited at its own booth at the IBC Show for the first time, and, adding compatibility with Microsoft Azure recently, Cloudian’s cloud-based storage solutions now support all three major clouds: Amazon, Google, and Microsoft.

Jon Toor, Chief Marketing Officer, Cloudian

SVG got the chance to visit Cloudian in its San Mateo, CA, offices and to speak with Chief Marketing Officer Jon Toor about standards, his takeaways from IBC, and how bringing cloud storage to on-premises data centers is changing how people view and utilize their historical archives.

What were your big takeaways from IBC 2017 last month?
The customers we met at IBC and NAB Show in Las Vegas were very similar in a lot of regards. The overarching trend is the need to reuse assets, monetize media, and get out that media quickly to enable that reuse. We also see the need to accelerate workflows. People have a constant need to get things done faster because we’re now being expected to produce more content for more types of devices and shown in more formats and get all of that stuff done in record time because, individually, pieces aren’t bringing in the massive cash flow. It’s the aggregate of all of the different things you’ve got going on. That increases the pressure to get at media quickly.

That’s what Cloudian enables. Instead of locking media away in an archival format that is inherently slow to access, for about the same cost, we can let you put that media on something that you can instantly access. That difference in accessibility means, now you can get the work done faster and in different ways because you have the time to produce it in different formats or to get at old assets and reuse them in ways you couldn’t before.

With our clients in the media and entertainment space, moving into this type of storage — which is instantly accessible yet infinitely scalable — opens up new doors in how you can use these assets. So now you have new avenues to monetize.

When a prospective client approaches you with a wealth of content on tapes and wants your help, how do you handle that? Do you digitize in chunks? Do you advise that the content be digitized as it is needed?
That’s always the challenge. What we recommend is, go from the current, back. Start from the present. That’s the stuff that you’re going to be more frequently reusing, and you are going to get the most value right away. That being said, keeping that information on tape and maintaining its accessibility costs you money everyday. You think that the tape just sitting on the shelf is free. In reality, it’s just like owning a car. That car sitting in your driveway is not free: it’s consuming depreciation; it’s consuming maintenance costs even though it’s just sitting there. About half of your costs of owning a tape is actually tied up in refreshing that media every five years. We’ve actually heard of clients that are rereading their tapes every two years because they are very concerned about making sure that data remains readable.

So the faster that you can get it on a medium that is essentially evergreen, the sooner it’s going to start saving you money. We show people how we can save them money by moving data from tape onto spinning disk, and they are often surprised by that. They think that, by definition, spinning disk is going to be more expensive. Ten years ago, that was probably true.

A couple of things have happened that have changed that. For one, disk capacities have increased so much. Right now, a hard drive is 10 TB. It doesn’t cost any more than that drive did 10 years ago; it just stores 100 times more information. The cost per gigabyte has come way down. The second thing that’s happened is that enterprise storage — which is super-scalable storage like we make — is run on industry-standard servers. It used to be that, if you bought a server, that was limiting you in terms of scalability.

Now, with a software like Cloudian makes, you can make a whole stack of servers work together as one big device. You have the economies of that super-capacity hard drive running in an industry-standard server, stacking a whole bunch of them up and making them all act like one big storage system. That makes it both cost-effective and easy to manage.

Last month, Cloudian announced various integrations with Microsoft Azure and Cisco. You also mentioned that your solutions can marry various solutions together. How critical is it for your value that it be as easy as possible and low in friction?
That’s the beauty of it for our customers: standards drive value across every dimension that you look at. The storage industry is really driven by standards. The reason is that everyone benefits from the emergence of standards. By that I mean, the storage customer wants everything in their environment to play nicely together: you want your media-asset managers to play well with your editing software to play well with Tier 1 storage systems, etc.

What’s happened in our particular brand of storage is that a standard has emerged called S3. That’s a way of speaking to this class of storage: object storage. That same interface can be used in your data center. Just like you talk to Amazon using this S3 language, you can also talk to storage in your own data using the S3 language. Because that standard exists, the software companies that want to store large amounts of data have adopted S3 as one of the standards that they use to talk to storage. You can use that for the cloud and in your own data center in the exact same way. We think of our solution as being cloud storage in your data center.

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