Highlights from the GigaOm Use Case Report on Decentralized Cloud Storage for Video

Trisha Winter
August 17, 2022

A GigaOm report looks at a specific use case scenario for a technology and recommends best practices to improve adoption of technologies, exploring both use case design criteria and a viable technical solution. The most recent report from GigaOm cloud and infrastructure analyst, Enrico Signoretti, focuses on cloud storage for video.

The report explains why traditional cloud storage is not meeting the needs for video production from sharing to streaming, and how decentralized cloud storage is a viable alternative that better meets the specific needs for video storage use cases.

The Video Use Case and Why Current Storage Options Aren’t Working

Signoretti explains the many challenges that the media and entertainment industry are having with cloud storage. “No matter the size of the company, media-rich content requires a lot of storage capacity. It has to be reliable, fast, and, at the same time, reasonably priced. Object storage is considered one of the best options for storing unstructured data due to its scalability, cost, simplicity, and accessibility, but it also poses challenges, especially when data needs to be globally accessed and distributed.”

In order to achieve these requirements, video production studios and agencies are experiencing increasingly high costs—especially as videos are shot at 4K and 8K resolutions. Traditional cloud object storage, like AWS, leaves those working with video confronted with the choice of managing storage costs by sacrificing performance or security. This isn’t viable long term as more and more video production moves fully to the cloud.

The Drawbacks of Traditional Cloud Storage for Video Use Cases

“Video production workflows are becoming increasingly complex with video recorded in one location, edited somewhere else by multiple operators, sometimes rendered in the cloud, and finally distributed on several channels. Hybrid and public cloud approaches are also expensive and often complex to manage, requiring considerable work (admins-per-petabyte),” explains Signoretti.

The report explores the details of why traditional cloud storage isn’t working for video use cases. Signoretti states, “Storing and operating large amounts of data is challenging, even more so for video content, and many users are discovering its associated costs too late. Traditional on-premises solutions may be low on initial acquisition cost, but they do not provide the availability and resiliency required by many users.”

Here is an abbreviated list of the major issues:

  • Infrastructure resiliency: Object storage is usually resilient, but it is crucial to consider business continuity and disaster recovery for on-premises/hybrid infrastructures.
  • Data accessibility and availability: Even in the public cloud, having multiple copies of data can be a requirement in case of a zone or region failure. Keeping data synchronized is very expensive and creates additional synchronization issues if data needs to be accessed concurrently from multiple locations or for backup reasons.
  • Performance: Even though performance is not usually associated with object storage, parallelism and throughput are important characteristics to consider, especially when video is involved. Content delivery networks (CDN) are a solution, but they are expensive and complicate the infrastructure topology.
  • Scalability: This can be an issue for on-premises deployments, especially for large systems installed in locations with limited space.
  • Cost and TCO: Cost can be one of the biggest issues when video is involved, especially in hybrid and public cloud environments because of complex billing mechanisms and egress fees.

Most of these challenges contribute to the costs associated with using cloud storage for video. Improving resiliency is an added cost. Improving data accessibility and availability is an added cost. Improving performance is an added cost. Adding encryption is an added cost. When you add egress fees on top of that, traditional cloud object storage is proving to be very expensive for video use cases.

Decentralized Storage Is a Viable Alternative for Video Use Cases

The report introduces the concept of decentralized cloud object storage as an alternative to traditional cloud storage. Signoretti explains the difference between these models, “Decentralized storage is a solution to these challenges. A decentralized storage system is based on a peer-to-peer (P2P) network, a type of architecture that has found some success for data distribution and file sharing. Instead of storing data in a centralized system made up of data centers, it is chunked, distributed, and stored on thousands of nodes in a global network or the internet.”

Traditional Versus Decentralized Cloud Storage

Signoretti goes into detail in the report about how the architecture and features of decentralized cloud storage addresses each of the challenges of traditional cloud storage for video use cases. “The latest solutions based on this technology [decentralized cloud storage], however, can hide the complexity while providing a user experience similar to traditional public cloud storage, with the same interfaces, but dramatically better cost models and security.” Here are the top benefits Signoretti mentions (see report for full list):

  • Cost and flexibility: Many decentralized storage solutions in the market offer simple payment solutions based on pay-as-you-go models and more sophisticated options based on prepaid plans. In many cases, the user can be both storage consumer and provider at the same time, an option that adds a level of complexity, but also contributes to improving the overall $/GB. TCO is significantly less expensive compared to traditional options, especially when multi-region data availability is included.
  • Productivity improvements: Sharing videos becomes easier and data transfers can be globally optimized. S3 interface can be used by file sharing and video streaming tools while the decentralized back end offers more parallelism and performance than traditional solutions. More so, modern decentralized networks can prioritize access to data segments closer to the user and reduce latency while improving speed of data movements. This enables users to more efficiently share and collaborate on the same video files globally.
  • Infrastructure simplification: With decentralized storage there is less need for data replication to the edge. In some cases, CDNs become useless since they are designed to bring data closer to the user and reduce latency to improve performance. When the decentralized network is designed to optimize data retrieval, favoring closer and faster data storage nodes in the back end, CDN becomes redundant unless the user requires the lowest possible latency and network traffic minimization. A good decentralized network approach improves data access performance without additional caching components for several workloads.

Signoretti goes on to talk about how many decentralized cloud object storage providers now have S3 compatibility and similar interface for ease of use and making it easier to switch.

How Storj Meets the Requirements for Video Cloud Storage

Toward the end of the report Signoretti features Storj, a decentralized cloud object storage provider who is an excellent fit for video use cases. “The [Storj] network was designed for privacy, security, reliability, and efficiency. It already has over 15,000 active storage nodes distributed across more than 90 countries, providing network capacity, which should attract the interest of enterprise users.”

In the final Analyst’s Take, Signoretti states that, “Storj offers a good combination of features, is easy to use, and focuses on efficiency and total cost of ownership. It is working with several solution providers in this space to integrate and certify its solution, offering a simple yet video-friendly fee structure, payable via credit card or invoicing. The benefits of the Storj solution for users in the video industry are clearly visible in terms of total cost of ownership when the reasonable $/GB is associated with ease of use and the productivity improvements coming from decentralized network technology.”

Get the full analysis from the GigaOm video storage use case report.

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