What’s Dell Doing at the Entertainment Technology Expo?

Dell logoTechnology in the media & entertainment industry is at an exciting crossroads.  For more than 100 years, content creation has followed a manufacturing process.  Today, that process is giving way to networked workflow environments that have no beginning, middle or end. 

Dell is leading an advanced end-to-end cloud workflow demo at the Entertainment Technology Expo‘s Digital Process Workflow (DPW) Lab showcasing just some of the value that we bring to the Media & Entertainment industry. We are eager to help our customers make the transition to powerful workflow pipelines that save time and money, while offering more flexibility to the professionals that collaborate in bringing content to life. 

The stakes are high.  One of our Hollywood studio customers did an internal assessment last year, and determined that a minimum of 40 percent of overall annual budgets are lost due to a combination of inefficient hardware provisioning and workflow inefficiencies they deemed as “solvable.”  That’s hundreds of millions of dollars for that customer alone!  The Media & Entertainment industry has been hemorrhaging time and money for years – but it hasn’t been the industry’s fault.  Until recently, network and other technical limitations made it prohibitive to collaborate seamlessly between locations, applications and databases for video-based workflows.

This demo is particularly dear to me, since both as co-founder of Orbit Digital and Director of Mobile Services for SIXTEEN19, I was on the front lines building similar technology for feature films and television.  Due mainly to networking limitations, I sought for years to approximate what has only recently become possible.  Dell’s DPW demo represents a crossing of a threshold where a converged cloud model is finally feasible TODAY. I can safely speak for all of the partners we are working with when I express my excitement about how the model we are showing allows us all to achieve a result that is greater than the sum of our parts. 

This is a true end-to-end Dell solution that comprises the best of Dell’s proprietary and acquired technology. For example, Dell Boomi AtomSphere is middleware that acts as glue for these kinds of workflows. Other element of the workflow include:

Dell PowerEdge Servers: PowerEdge R720; PowerEdge C6220

Dell UltraSharp Displays: UltraSharp 2410 & 3100s

Dell Networking: Force10 s4810

Dell Security Solutions: SonicWALL E8510, SecureWorks Managed Services

Dell Storage: PowerVault NAS / Arrays, DX Object Store

Dell Precision Workstations: Dell Precision T7600 tower workstations & M6700 mobile workstations

Metadata Integration:  Dell Boomi Atomshere

Dell Wyse Zero Client: Wyse P45

Dell Consumer & Business tablets and PCs : Latitude 10, XPS 15, XPS 8500, XPS One 27”

The life of workflow is the story of the content’s metadata, which constantly grows, evolves and changes – and is created by different people.  Prior to the revolution underway, each application had its own database and merging and updating metadata (and therefore managing a project) involved endless exports and imports of data.  The result was that metadata was siloed and content creation followed a rigid manufacturing process.  Each database often had variations in metadata schemas (or semantic formats for each type of entry).  Workflows were limited, and in fact stymied, as a result.  Boomi AtomSphere is so important here because it allows all databases to be mapped to a single cloud database, enabling these kinds of living, breathing real time environments between many applications.  When someone enters, updates or changes metadata, it’s all in one place and anyone can access it, where it is essential to the process of creating and making meaning of the finished product.

The intent of the DPW Lab is to show how centralized management and intelligence built into infrastructure can reduce hardware costs while making process more seamless, secure and in many cases automated.  When harnessed correctly, the consolidation of servers, networking and storage known as “cloud” is powerful, and there is no doubt that what we’re showcasing and participating in at the DPW Lab represents the workflow environment of the future.  For most, the transition will be gradual, and must be embarked upon tactically; but the fact is that cloud-based workflow environments present immediate and substantial ROI now – and providing these infrastructures is a primary focus for Dell Media & Entertainment.

The majority of workflow inefficiencies are solvable – but it’s really more of a philosophy than a silver bullet solution.

At Dell, we believe there are seven pillars around which you need to build interoperability into your cloud environment and End user computing:

  • API framework – Connect best-of-breed apps through a standard REST APIs
  • Scalable asset management engine – Manage as many assets, users and locations as appropriate for your environment
  • Metadata integration (do you know about Dell Boomi?) – Sync all of the databases from every application to one cloud database that everyone can leverage
  • Accelerated video transport and transcode – Move dramatically more video between locations, with disruptive technology that makes multi-location collaborations feasible
  • Tiered storage – Don’t pay a dime more than you need to for storage, by automating data between archive and higher tiers with policy-driven intelligence
  • Security – Create multiple layers of security, communications, threat detection, business continuity, encryption, monitoring and compliance
  • High Performance Workstations – providing the ability to maintain highly interactive workflows with best in class compute and graphics to main the creative process.

The DPW Lab is not a proprietary workflow, but one of infinite permutations based on the ability to leverage any combination of best-in-breed partners. One of the takeaways that we hope attendees take from the lab is that our cloud-based framework delivers an open, partner-driven solution that is right for any media & entertainment customer’s unique needs.

To date, there has been no better model for the construction of complex workflow pipelines than a tapestry of best-of-breed solutions provided by companies that serve niche roles exceedingly well.  By adopting cloud infrastructure in this manner, workflow tools that are available today or in the future can be seen as modular, providing maximum adaptability and avoiding locking. 

Every environment and workflow needs customization, but Dell has a solutions portfolio that lays the foundation for the next generation of content creation and delivery.  We also have the services to design, execute, manage and support solutions unique to many different needs.  From hardware like Dell Precision workstations and Dell Wyse thin and zero client devices, to central cloud management to big data analytics that provide insights to optimize hardware and business models, Dell’s video solutions strategy is rooted in a future that many of us saw coming for years, and is finally here!

About the Author: Chad Andrews