Business continuity and disaster recovery planning have always been vital business practice, but if there’s one lesson 2020 has taught us, it’s that things can go wrong in far more – and more challenging – ways than anyone could reasonably expect. If you’ve found yourself reviewing your emergency plans lately, here are a few key scenarios to bear in mind.
This covers most of your standard engineering nightmares: multiple drives failing on storage volumes; losing huge sections of your storage array to incidents like fires or floods; generally losing access to large amounts of your work in progress media. There are several ways to mitigate against disasters like this.
With their low cost per TB, long shelf life and relative portability, LTO tapes have long been used for backup and disaster recovery, and the available solutions run the gamut from smaller setups that are perfect for one-off projects and small datasets, to large-scale, highly-automated tape libraries from the likes of XenData, Quantum and Spectralogic.
At the smaller end of the scale, mLogic’s mTape range of desktop tape drives are popular for creating a tape copy of your work that can be taken off site to act as an emergency backup. Opting for a solution like XenData’s X1 appliance gives you more flexibility, as it’s more intelligent and can manage creating and distributing multiple copies of your data, allowing you to automate the creation of a tape copy of your data and then make incremental backups as your project progresses. It also includes XenData’s Cloud Gateway functionality, so you can sync a copy straight to the cloud for safekeeping.
For complete projects, a piece of intelligent middleware like Marquis’ Project Parking is extremely useful, as its project identifier function allows you to move media related to specific Avid or Premiere projects from your online storage to a nearline backup, offline archive or Wasabi hot cloud storage with all the associated precomputes and mixdowns. This means that, in the event of failure, the media related to a specific project can be identified, prioritised and restored faster than the other data. The viewing for that important project can then go ahead while you restore the rest of the (less urgent) data in the background.
As with other methods you can create multiple copies in different locations, so as well as having a long term tape copy of your work, you can back it up to a second location, such as offsite cloud storage. The big difference being that the process is tightly coupled to individual projects, so all media belonging to a given project can be identified and prioritised accordingly.
Some of our customers are saying goodbye to LTO and moving their daily backups to cloud services like Amazon S3, Microsoft Azure and our pick, Wasabi.
If you’re using public cloud services like this, there are a couple of things to be aware of. Firstly, you need to be aware of egress charges – these are fees that you pay for access and downloading your media once it’s in the cloud, and can make recovering your media extremely costly. Currently, Wasabi are the only provider who operate on a model without egress fees, which makes it the most cost-effective, predictable option when it comes to budgeting.
We also don’t recommend simply throwing your footage up into the cloud unassisted. You’ll still want some middleware to help you preserve the structure of projects and workspaces when you back them up, and to help you redistribute work during the recovery process. We’d also recommend investing in a high speed internet connection, as clearly internet bandwidth affects the speed of transmission and your ability to recover vital data quickly.
If you’re obliged to keep your footage in a certain territory or are only permitted to handle in certain ways, the public cloud may not be for you. However, a private cloud solution, in which you either host or rent dedicated hardware in a datacentre and access it via a dedicated connection, will give you the same benefits.
Object Matrix’s MatrixStore solution is ideal for anyone looking to set up a private cloud backup. Because MatrixStore relies on object-based storage rather than a traditional filesystem, it’s not subject to a filesystem’s size constraints and can deliver massive scalability at a realistic cost. You can back up as much media as you need, then use MatrixStore’s built-in media management tools to find exactly what you need: their Vision solution is not only a user-friendly way for editors to find the clips they need, but allows them to stream low-res proxies to wherever they are, so they can pick up their projects straight away.
In addition, their connection to Avid Interplay makes it easy to create a resilient disaster recovery solution for any system running Avid's PAM solution.
Another popular option is to duplicate your tier one storage to a nearline volume on a second site. This protects against accidental deletion or silent data corruption on your primary data storage.
Many vendors now offer lower-cost, higher volume nearline storage to complement their tier one storage – the Avid NEXIS | E5 NL is a nearline unit designed to integrate seamlessly with your NEXIS storage, while Spectralogic have their popular Black Pearl NAS range, EditShare have the EFS 40NL parking cluster for media you don’t need to access instantly, and DDP’s chassis allows for instant mirroring to multiple, parallel storage volumes. Quantum offer StorNext options running the gamut from high-speed SSD to nearline (with their recent acquisition of ActiveScale, they can now offer large-scale object storage as well).
We have experience of working with a range of nearline systems, and of automating data synchronisation between primary and secondary storage sites. For added peace of mind (and to save valuable floorspace) we can host your nearline storage in our UK datacentre, where we can manage the hardware, monitor your backup, and even provide leasing options on extra storage as your facility grows. Get in touch using the form below to find out more or book a demo.
No one expected ‘global pandemic’ would be a major obstacle to business in 2020 – but the recent crisis has made one thing clear: it’s important to have a plan in place for situations in which you have no access to your site.
Hardware PC over IP access
Our recommendation for this scenario is Amulet Hotkey. A hardware-based PC over IP solution, it prioritises speed and accuracy above all else. End to end encryption keeps your media away from prying eyes, while Amulet Hotkey scales the quality of footage it delivers to match the end user’s network connectivity. Hardware acceleration means it delivers the maximum quality over the available bandwidth, efficiently.
How does it work? Amulet Hotkey’s hardware runs on the popular, trusted Teradici chip set (the closest thing to an industry standard for PC over IP), and can be added to systems using an internal card or an external, rack mounted solution. Users can then connect to an Amulet Hotkey zero client using any keyboard, display and controls they like, and access the full power of their workstation as if they were in the same room.
We’ve been in a solid partnership with Amulet Hotkey for years now, and together we’ve delivered hundreds of remote end points into a variety of industries, workflows and environments. Find out more about our partnership and their solutions here.
If you’d prefer to go the software-only route, there are a range of options available, from Teradici’s own connection protocol to remote services facilitated by it, such as HP’s ZCentral Remote Boost (formerly Remote Graphics Software). We can help you piece together a remote workflow that allows different types of user access to the media and tools they need – get in touch on the details below to find out more.
Direct cloud access
Increasingly, vendors are starting to offer the ability to access media in cloud storage for direct playback. IPV Curator can play back proxies direct from your cloud storage for review or edit in Adobe Premiere Pro. LucidLink can mount Wasabi, or any Amazon S3 bucket, on a desktop as a mounted disk. This means you can drop files onto a 'disk' on your remote computer and they appear instantly on any other computer that is mounting your cloud storage in the same way. Avid | Edit on Demand lets you spin up virtual storage and workstations on demand thanks to the power of Microsoft Azure – as an Avid Cloud Partner, we’re the first organisation in the UK who can offer early access previews, so you can test Edit on Demand for yourself.
We can provide live demos of direct cloud access solutions to suit all kinds of workflow, and help you design a remote access plan that guarantees you business continuity for your most critical employees and projects. Get in touch on the details below to book your demo today.
Delivering files with IBM Aspera
If your staff are working from home and need to work on files locally, or need to send large files from their location to a third party, cloud-based technologies can help here, too.
Use IBM Aspera on Cloud to securely transfer data from your facility’s main storage to the cloud, and let your staff access it from there. IBM uses a special technology aimed especially at transferring big data files anywhere globally. Your staff at home will be able to download their data from the cloud predictably and efficiently no matter where they are. When they are done, those files can be sent anywhere via the cloud. It's secure and extremely reliable, fast and won't even touch your facility systems, which will probably already by maxed out in a crisis situation.
Staff may also need to download files to their home office so they can work on them locally, or send large files (such as high resolution video) to third parties so they can be worked on. If your existing site has a small pipe to the internet and everyone is trying to access their data at once, they’re going to struggle to access assets in a timely manner. The IBM Aspera file transport technology is the most effective solution to transfer your files fast and securely, store files in the cloud and let your staff collaborate with those large files and large sets of files that low-grade file sharing services can't. You can use IBM Aspera file transfer in the cloud, or at your facility, or combine the two.
Sometimes, your storage is working perfectly, but through simple error or malicious intent, users can delete vital work. The backup precautions you take against catastrophic failure of your storage will also protect in this scenario (again, we’d recommend replicating your storage twice, with at least one copy off site or in the cloud). However, it’s at times like these – when material is lost while a project is being worked on, often close to a deadline – that you really see the importance of investing in backup software above and beyond the management capabilities built into your storage.
Good middleware is vital if you want to get specific data back quickly. Traditional backup solutions don’t deal with the large data sets and fast changing media project file structures and metadata involved in post, and they often store projects in a very wholesale way. You can’t select a high priority project to restore first in the event of disaster, or be sure projects are being stored with all their related assets. A dedicated media-aware backup solution fixes this problem.
If you’re working in an Avid environment, we recommend using Marquis’ Workspace Tools to back up your NEXIS. It allows you to sync each workspace on your NEXIS to a specific location in its entirety, meaning you can select high priority workspaces to restore first, and be confident that end users will find all their media exactly where it should be. For non-Avid environments, the Archiware P5 range offers a comprehensive suite of tools for data backup synchronisation and archiving. (For more on the difference between these, take a look at our overview of archive and backup here).
MatrixStore offer a novel solution here, too. It’s one of the few media storage companies with ‘snapshot’ functionality built in. A snapshot is a type of backup which captures the structure of your media, files and systems at any given point. You can then roll back to that version of your system when something goes wrong, effectively hitting reset on whatever the problem is.
We can help you design, install and support disaster recovery and business continuity solutions for any scenario, from total hardware failure to enforced remote working and beyond. Our team have spent over 25 years supporting some of the UK’s largest creative companies, and have the experience and expertise you need to develop a foolproof plan that fits your security requirements and your budget. We can even host private cloud storage for you in our datacentre, provide cloud backup with our CSM24 storage service, and provide remote monitoring of your facility to head off any hardware problems before they arrive.
When the UK went into lockdown back in March, Cardiff-based Gorilla were in a better position than most...
We prised our experts away from our demo units for as long as we possibly could to find out how it’s been handling their testing.
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