The State of Media Storage for 2016

Posted on by Larry

Commentary2.jpgEver wonder how other media professionals are using storage? Well, for the last several years, readers of my newsletter have been invited to participate in an annual survey looking at “Storage in Professional Media and Entertainment.”

Published by Coughlin Associates, this survey provides a comprehensive look at how we, as media professionals, are using storage today.

NOTE: Download a complete copy of the 2016 survey results here. (PDF, 6 MB)


“Digital storage for the M&E industry has demand characteristics often very different from typical IT storage because of the performance requirements of real-time video in capture, editing and post- production as well as distribution. On the other hand, the ever growing archive of long-tail digital content and increasing digitized historical analog content is swelling the demand for cold as well as warm archives using tape, optical discs and hard drive arrays.”

NOTE: All quotes are taken from the survey itself.

“Of the 167 people that started the survey, 153 completed at least some part of the survey (91.6%). All of the people surveyed worked with professional media and entertainment content. 105 were involved in content capture, 96 were involved in digital editing or post-production, 40 were involved in content distribution and 72 were involved in long term digital archiving or digital preservation.”

(This is what we do.)

(This is how we record camera images.)

Magnetic tape plunged from 34% use in 2009, to only 2% use in 2016. Flash memory essentially doubled from 28% in 2010 to 54% in 2016. Hard drives, too, have been gradually increasing.

(This is where we store our stuff.)

Not surprisingly, the percentage of media folks using network-attached storage (NAS) increases as the number of people employed in that facility increase. What I find interesting, however, is that even in very large organizations, 50% of all media professionals still use direct attached storage. (I suspect this is because the performance provided by direct storage is still superior to most network attached storage.

It is also interesting to me that, when it comes to delivering our content on physical media, hard drives are the preferred choice, with DVDs and digital tape in second and third place. Even though both DVDs and digital tape are considered “dead” by leading developers (not to mention Apple or Adobe by name), both formats are in daily use.

(This is how we archive our stuff.)

Not surprisingly, there is no dominant winner when it comes to archiving, though, according to this survey, The Cloud is relied on by only 2% of media professionals for long-term archiving. Hard disks, either local or on the network, are used by 39% of use. Digital tape, generally meaning LTO tape, is the leader at 49%.


This survey is a fascinating snapshot of our industry. For those that participated, thank you for sharing your opinions. We’ve asked Coughlin Associates to include us again when they open the 2017 survey for comments.

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