As organizations realize the usefulness of video as a sales and training medium, they will begin to create more and more of it. This does however create an issue of what to do with all of the footage. Video is significantly larger in size than other digital media files. You'll need to organize and store it all, including video and media you need to hold onto for business or legal reasons.
If this sounds familiar, it might be time to consider a video archive solution. Let's discuss!
First things first, what happens leading up to archive time?
If you are at all involved in the video production process, you know firsthand that the evolution of a video during this stage can be far from linear. On the other hand, the actual lifecycle of a video is a bit more predictable.
Here is a typical workflow you might encounter:
- Creation: You or a video editor will produce or edit a video using a non-linear video editing program, like Final Cut Pro, Adobe Premiere Pro, or Avid.
- Active: When the edited video is complete it needs a home, such as your DAM system, so your team can easily and quickly access, download, and publish your videos across digital platforms like YouTube, Vimeo, or Brightcove.
- Archive: When you no longer need regular access to your project files, you can securely store them by compressing your video to a zip file format and storing in an archive.
- Resurrection: Although less typical, should you ever need your archived project files again, a DAM solution keeps your assets organized and easily searchable.
Now, onto the archive stage. What should you look for?
A cloud-based archive likely makes the most sense.
Hardware-based storage used to be the only option available to businesses. Thankfully, with advancements in cloud technology, you can now store and access large files, like videos, over the Internet instead of on your hard drive or local network.
Why does this matter?
Well, cloud archiving helps you scale your business, without the upfront costs.
With the cloud, you only pay for the amount of storage you use at a given time. Storage capacity is virtually limitless, so you’ll never have to bother with expensive hardware upgrades or scramble to free up space. As you grow, so can your storage capacity.
Conversely, when you rely on hardware-based storage, you need to predict the amount of space you’ll need down the road and purchase all of it upfront. If you grow faster than anticipated, you’ll need to upgrade your capacity by buying expansion storage drives or in some cases completely replacing your existing hardware, resulting in huge costs and unnecessary downtime.
Secondly, cloud storage requires zero IT resources.
Unlike hardware-based archives, cloud storage is not reliant on expensive IT teams and equipment. Your storage lives on web servers, so all you need is an Internet connection to access your files. With cloud storage, you don’t have to be “in the building” or “on the network” to connect, and you can access the cloud 24/7/365, from anywhere in the world.
Alternatively, hardware storage relies on actual equipment and requires a dedicated IT staff that can handle the implementation, routing, upgrading, maintenance, and user training for your system. While your IT team may be more than willing and equipped to handle this, it is time spent away from other crucial business needs. Hardware-based solutions also require an on-premise server room to house your hardware, which is costly after you consider things like energy use, temperature control, and equipment failure.
Which leads us to our next point…
Cloud storage is less vulnerable.
The singular location of hardware storage makes it susceptible to unpredictable misfortunes, such as damage from water, pests, fire, power loss, or natural disasters. Even if you manage to escape environmental catastrophe, hardware requires regular maintenance and upgrades, potentially resulting in disastrous costs.
But are your files safe in the cloud?
Your files are safe in the cloud, but redundancy is a must.
When you save a file to the cloud, it is encrypted, which means that you are storing your data in a scrambled format that is unreadable by computers or humans without an access key.
However, beware that redundancy, or data backup, isn’t always automatically built into your storage, even with cloud-based solutions.
For example, if you sign up for Amazon cloud services, your archived files won’t automatically be backed up in multiple locations. Your IT team or an archive solution provider, like your friends at Widen, need to build out redundancy capabilities.
Always confirm that your cloud-based archive solution has built-in redundancy with backup in multiple data centers spread out across multiple dispersed locations.
A killer user interface makes all the difference.
Without a user interface (UI) or a software layer, cloud storage is completely inaccessible to users. Essentially, you’ll have the storage space, but you won’t have an easy way to add, organize, or find your files.
To make the actual storage useful, you need a partner to build a safe, accessible, and user-friendly infrastructure and interface that can live on top of the great tools that cloud storage providers, like Amazon, offer.
However, most traditional archive software has painfully clunky and unorganized UIs. Before investing in an archive solution, give the UI a test run with those who will be using the software to ensure it checks these boxes:
- Intuitive: Is the user interface modeled after familiar digital experiences like shopping on eBay or searching on Google? You should instinctively understand search and filter mechanics without any training.
- Searchable: Are relevant search results returned quickly? Do you need to rummage through messy folder hierarchies? A solid UI will return organized and accurate results, allow for full content previews, and utilize robust metadata tagging.
- Customizable access: Look for a UI experience that allows for customized security and permission levels. At a minimum, the UI must require all users to have a login and password. Beyond that, you’ll want to control user access levels, so depending on their role, you can determine permissions.
- Broad adoption: Does the storage solution provider you are evaluating have a diverse and global portfolio of clients? A superior UI experience requires a ton of work. If your solution provider is servicing hundreds of thousands of users across leading, global brands, they are more likely to put resources towards continually testing and improving their UI.
Invest in the solution, not the storage (and make it affordable).
First of all, there isn’t a hardware-based solution that can touch the pricing of cloud storage. Even hybrid options that utilize on-premise hardware but offer additional cloud storage add-ons will never be as economical as cloud storage.
Secondly, the investment you make in a video archive solution should be based on the value you’ll gain from the framework, not the actual storage.
Let’s unpack this a bit…
Cloud storage is a commodity. While Amazon Web Services, the leading cloud provider, surpasses players like Microsoft Azure and Google Cloud Platform in terms of cost and computing power, the real value is in the framework (the user interface, user security, and redundancy) that’s built on top of a cloud provider’s tools and data centers.
Unfortunately, the market is flooded with video archive solution vendors that not only fail to build an intuitive, secure, and organized infrastructure and user interface, but also markup storage prices astronomically, rather than simply passing along the pricing they receive directly from their cloud provider of choice.
Again, the value is in the framework.
If you aren’t getting an intuitive, secure, and organized infrastructure and user interface build on top of the actual storage, you’re not getting your money’s worth.
How can Widen help?
For starters, we are the framework – and then some.
The Widen Collective® is a browser-based digital asset management (DAM) SaaS solution, which allows permissioned users to easily search and access archived and active files.
We integrate the tools you need to manage images, videos, and creative files across the content lifecycle, so when it comes time to archive or unarchive files, like large videos, we make the process frictionless.
Our archive solution, keeps your visual content at arms reach by safely and conveniently preserving it in low cost storage, without the outrageous markups.
Listen to how the University of San Francisco (USF) moved their video assets from a TB external hard drive to the Collective and the success they've had.