NAB 2019 Reflections: Object Matrix’s Jonathan Morgan on the Power of Object-Based Storage for M&E

Storage pioneer launches Sense analytics, monitoring, and stats tool

One of the big buzz items at NAB 2019 was the increasing use of object-based storage by M&E organizations. Although the migration from file-based to object-based storage has been a major trend in other industries for years, broadcasters have yet to jump on the bandwagon in a big way. However, that appears to be gradually changing, and Object Matrix is waiting with open arms.

The organization helped to pioneer media-focused object storage and hybrid cloud solutions, including its flagship product, MatrixStore. At NAB 2019, Object Matrix launched an analytics, monitoring and statistics tool dubbed Sense. As broadcasters’ storage infrastructure extends into the cloud and multiple sites, Sense enables collection of real-time statistics of storage-infrastructure use, real-time monitoring of hardware and analytics of both usage and the types of information being stored.

SVG sat down with Object Matrix CEO Jonathan Morgan to discuss the new Sense tool, how he sees the migration to object storage accelerating in M&E, and how object storage enables organization’s move to the cloud.

Object Matrix’s Jonathan Morgan: “Object storage is particularly relevant in the sports arena. These organizations want to be able to monetize their archive.”

Can you tell me a bit about the new Sense tool and how it helps media-organizations looking to migrate to object storage?
We’re seeing more and more people migrating from LTO into object-based-storage solutions. That could be because you want to migrate everything on-prem, or you may want to have a hybrid cloud workflow for your storage. We provide not only the safe, scalable place to keep all of the data but also the HSM piece that can allow you to migrate to object-based storage so you can manage the data from a single place. We can provide that single-pane-of-glass interface with our object storage.

We also provide analytics around the data, which is what we’re [highlighting at NAB 2019]. With [Sense]: you’re not just controlling where data is; you also have a view of the analytics around that to monitor long after you have stored it and make sure it is being [stored] on the most cost-appropriate platform. We can offer migration to a proven, scalable object-storage platform with a single pane of glass and all the analytics and monitoring around it that you will need.

What are the primary advantages of shifting from file-based to object-based storage for media organizations?
If it’s content you’re never going to use, it likely belongs on tape or [Amazon S3] Glacier. But if you’re going to use it, we believe our [object-storage platform] offers a lot of extra value.

You want to be able to extract value out of that data in various different ways in order to monetize it. You want to be able to do things like image recognition and enhanced content discovery. In order to do that, you need to get that [content] onto a platform where you can access it quickly and reliably, and that is not tape.

Or, if you’re going to push everything down to a Glacier [deep-archive] layer and train the database with all the images of a famous sports player, you can do that, but it will be a very expensive exercise to be able to analyze that data.

Being able to put your active [media] on an appropriate layer of storage, that’s where Object Matrix fits in.

Do you believe the M&E industry — and sports organizations specifically — is finally opening up to the concept of using object-based storage on a larger scale?
Yes, absolutely. We’ve been selling object storage for 16 years. And we’ve been coming to the desert [for NAB Shows] for several years. But, [in the past], it truly felt like we were in the desert in terms of the messaging. Nobody knew what object storage was or was asking, “Why do we need this instead of a file-based system?” But now people are really beginning to understand its value. We’ve signed up three different sports organizations in just the last couple of weeks, which is great.

I think object storage is particularly relevant in the sports arena. These organizations want to be able to monetize their archive. Until now, that archive has always been a large cost that has been difficult to dig the benefit out of. The reality is, you need to make money off of that content to maximize what you’ve got. It’s truly a gold mine; it can’t just be a cost [center].

How does migrating to object storage help media organizations create an on-ramp to the cloud and create hybrid cloud/on-premises environments?
One of the main selling points about an object-storage platform is that the object is transportable. You can move an object with the metadata through different platforms, backwards and forwards. And you will still have that object in five years’ time without relying on whatever the file-system structure was to store that file all those years ago. You can build metadata around that object and augment the metadata over time, rather than just the metadata when you capture it, and then you keep all that metadata together with the object.

You want to [store] that object in a non-proprietary way as part of a seamless workflow. And that’s what we’re helping to achieve for the customer. We’re allowing that transportability of the data through many different use cases with all or some of the metadata [attached].

How do you see the media landscape changing as a result of object storage?
I think the days of having a digital-asset manager with a proprietary database are becoming a thing of the past because now you have the cloud and hybrid on-prem/cloud [environments].

Also, hardware is getting more and more powerful. We have a 16-TB drive here on the [booth] from one of our partners, which offers a whole new level of scalability. Obviously, the amount of data being generated and being used is growing tremendously as well.

It’s really important to have a storage platform in which you bring in the latest and greatest hardware, plug it into your existing storage [environment] and not have to throw away what you’ve already invested in. The object-based software that we’re providing can completely virtualize the hardware underneath. We’ve got customers that have eight generations of hardware in the same cluster, so having a proven platform that brings all that together is more important than ever.

This interview has been edited for length and clarity.