International blockbusters, Golden Globe winners and Oscar nominations: The British creative industry goes from strength to strength. It is now worth £71.4 billion per year to the UK economy, according to recent statistics from the Department for Culture. With this year’s Oscar Awards showcasing the best in picture, animated feature, cinematography and visual effects, we can see that film-making has come on leaps and bounds – and this is, in part, due to the ever-increasing role that technology is playing in production.

But all of the cool special effects and animated blockbusters out there come with one major requirement: data and how to store and protect it. Movies are getting much bigger, and from a data point of view, CGI, 3D, 4k, IMAX and localised release versions are all contributing to the increased amount of data that the film industry is producing. I had not really thought much about it before, but 3D films generate twice the amount of data, as they essentially require two copies of the movie: one for each eye.

In addition, movie makers are increasingly using big data analytics to make their films more successful and profitable, even to the point of helping them choose the best scriptwriters, directors and actors. On top of that, more and more people are using cloud-based services to subscribe to and store their movie libraries. It’s therefore reckoned that the industry will be generating getting on for 100 Petabytes of data by 2017, staggeringly four times more than in 2012.

Now, of course, one of the biggest challenges is how and where to store all of this data. Tesco in the UK is a case in point of the issue of storing and protecting ever-increasing amounts of data. The biggest retailer in the UK found that it was running out of compute power and storage capacity in its own data centre in the UK with Blinkbox, its online purchase and rental service for films. It then transitioned Blinkbox to the cloud through Microsoft Azure. It remains to be seen how Blinkbox’s new owner Talk Talk will approach data storage, but getting the customer experience right is crucial.

NetApp has been instrumental in helping a number of companies in this area to achieve greater storage efficiencies and provider users and customers with faster on-demand access to films and programmes. In addition to the 275+ service providers that have already based their cloud services on NetApp, we also partner with hyperscale cloud providers: Amazon Web Services (AWS), Microsoft Azure, and IBM SoftLayer to provide organisations with a secure ‘next to the cloud’ solution. Through this option branded as NetApp Private Storage for cloud, data is securely stored at a co-location data centre, which is connected by a low-latency, geographically-close data connection to the hyperscale service provider’s data centre. This gives customers all of the benefits of the cloud without compromising data security.

For any production houses that haven’t done so already, 2015 will be the year for reviewing technology usage and making sure that infrastructure is in place to deal with the greatly increased data requirements of films. Movies are an integral part of life as we know it – everyone loves to visit the cinema and spends lots of time streaming movies online from the comfort of their own home. This isn’t an industry that’s about to disappear, but it is going to need to adapt and develop in line with the technology its using in order to satisfy that ever-increasing consumer demand for content.

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Twitter: @MartinWarren20



Martin Warren

Martin Warren is EMEA Cloud Solutions Manager at NetApp. Based in the UK, Martin has many years of experience working in data protection, data storage, virtualization, cloud, big data and networks. In his current role, Martin is responsible for NetApp’s EMEA cloud strategy and solutions with a focus on driving business growth and aligning NetApp’s cloud offering with customer and partner demand.

Martin is a specialist in private, public and hybrid cloud solutions, including the aspects of data storage and data management. He provides advice to businesses on the advantages and impact of different cloud and data storage solutions, helping them to meet their goals. In addition, Martin is a subject matter expert on the EU’s General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR).

Prior to joining NetApp, Martin held positions at Symantec, Sun and StorageTek. He also worked at IT service delivery and consultancy companies Misys and 4Front Services, advising businesses on adopting IT services specifically from a blended approach.