LTO and LTFS. A blockbuster franchise that never runs out of steam for the M&E industry

LTO and LTFS. A blockbuster franchise that never runs out of steam for the M&E industry

This week sees the M&E industry gathering in Amsterdam for IBC 2018, so in this article, I want to examine how LTO technology and the Linear Tape File System (LTFS) are helping users in media and entertainment control their content storage costs and protect access to valuable digital assets.

LTFS. An International standard for data access and sharing

Since LTO-5, LTO technology has supported the dual partitioning of tape media. LTFS uses these two partitions to store data index locators and metadata in one partition and data content in the other. It’s a simple, yet powerful innovation that makes each tape self-describing, file-based and very easy to use. Essentially, it provides users with the ability to use standard file operations in Windows, MacOS or Linux for accessing, managing, and sharing files with an interface that behaves just like a traditional hard disk.

LTFS in action

Authentic Entertainment is an Emmy Award-winning production company based in Burbank, California. Authentic produces some of cable TV’s most popular shows as seen on the Discovery Channel, Food Network, TLC, History Channel, National Geographic, Showtime, Travel Channel and more. Authentic wanted to replace an existing archive system with a faster and more intelligent workflow solution. By using LTO and LTFS, Authentic was able to speed up their core workflows five-fold in comparison with the original archive system and eliminate or reduce hardware and labour costs.

“[The LTFS and LTO solution] is one of the most efficient and cost-effective solutions I’ve ever worked with” 

Will Pisnieski, vice president of Post-Production.

A safe and secure medium for long term storage

The 2018 Cost of a Data Breach Study conducted by Ponemon Institute, found that the average cost of a data breach globally is $3.86 million, a 6.4 percent increase from the 2017 report. In an era of all-digital workflows, studios, broadcasters and filmmakers are more exposed than ever before to cyberattack, particularly when one considers the economic value of an asset like a new episode of 'Game of Thrones' or a forthcoming blockbuster movie. One of the advantages of LTO tape storage is that copies of assets can be encrypted and stored securely offline. This so-called 'air gap' makes it much more difficult for cybercriminals to access content and encrypted data is useless even if it does fall into the wrong hands.

Instant scalability for petabyte workflows

One of the great advantages of LTO tape for M&E users is its scalability. The latest LTO-8 tape drives are capable of storing up to 15 TB of native, uncompressed data for a fraction of a cent per GB. Over the past decade, there has been a considerable increase in the amount of data generated by M&E companies due to the transition from traditional media workflows to fully digital environments. This trend will accelerate as the industry moves from HD to 4K (and soon to 8K) recording. A single digital 4K camera alone can record up to 1.5 TB for every hour of filming. So it's good to know that the LTO Roadmap now extends to Generation 12 and 480 TB per cartridge, vastly superior to the areal density scaling rate of hard disk drives (HDD). A HPE StoreEver MSL3040 tape library with ten LTO-8 drives and nine LTO-8 cartridges can store 100 TB of uncompressed data in just 8 hours. Those cartridges can be shipped just about anywhere in the world within 24-36 hours!

Practical benefits in real world workflows

The combination of LTO technology and LTFS improves workflows in four key areas for M&E customers. The following summary comes from an LTO White Paper “Best Practices for Managing Video Workflows

  • Production. LTO technology with LTFS protects original content with on-site backup copy, reduces camera media inventory costs, and enables the interchange of content between production sites and post-production.
  • Post-Production. LTO technology with LTFS offers a low-cost storage solution for work- in-progress, scales to meet large capacities, provides a standard means of interchange across the post-production ecosystem, and gives users the ability to offload less active content from expensive, high-performance flash disks.
  • Distribution. LTO technology with LTFS supports the transfer of large amounts of digital content at low cost and serves as the de facto standard for submission of content—to studios and between business partners.
  • Archiving. LTO technology with LTFS is ideal for long-term storage due to its durability, reliability, and low cost of operation. It scales to meet very large capacity requirements and supports rapid restoration for the repurposing of content.

Although LTO technology was originally conceived as a backup and archive solution, the technology has further developed to offer higher capacities, scalability, portability, and a long archive life, making it a de facto standard within the M&E industry. In contrast to some of the complexities inherent in working with a myriad of cloud vendors with their often unique APIs and gateways, LTFS with LTO tape delivers a non-proprietary storage medium that has transformed creative workflows. Because ultimately, it's the creativity, not the storage that matters. LTO technology with LTFS can reduce TCO, amplify efficiencies and help users manage content through all the steps of the origination, editing, delivery and archive process. It's a blockbuster franchise that looks set to keep running!

Come visit the LTO Consortium at IBC Amsterdam 14-18 September 2018 - Stand 6.A21.

Andrew Dodd

Andrew Dodd  Andrew Dodd

Worldwide Marcom Manager

Other posts by Andrew Dodd

Contact author

Contact author