The three-year FP7 project VISION Cloud is prototyping a next object generation storage system able to improve typical media production processes. The concept was demonstrated at the International 2013 Broadcasters Conference (IBC), where the team also picked up a Special Award for remarkable achievements.

In traditional hierarchical file systems, information is stored in a tree structure – a directory path leads to where files are stored. Within this directory, files are typically located by name. While this approach more or less works on your local computer, (‘what was the name of that file again and where did I put it?’), it does not scale well to a cloud environment, where new information is continuously stored by multiple sources.

VISION Cloud stores its information as objects that contain not only data (e.g. the bits of a photograph), but also both user- and system-defined metadata. User-tagged objects not only allow for powerful searches, but also for an association between logically linked objects. Metadata and relationships can then be used to locate relevant objects among vast volumes of stored data.

Another of VISION Cloud’s major innovations is the concept of ‘storlet’s – units of computation. Storlets can be used to transparently perform data operations, such as reformatting image files or analytics to support Big Data. The impact of storlets is substantial – stored data can be processed locally, and no longer needs to be transferred over the network to a local computer, processed and then put back onto the storage server – all of which incurs both network transfer costs and latencies.

VISION Cloud partner RAI, Italy’s public broadcasting company, has been using a prototype version of VISION Cloud in-house to provide a cutting edge, cloud-based means to improve media production. The results were recently demonstrated at IBC . Drawing over 50 000 visitors and 1 400 exhibitors, IBC is Europe’s largest media tradeshow.

VISION Cloud’s demonstration used its novel innovations, such as storlets, to automatically transcode uploaded videos to different formats, rich metadata and content networks. This facilitates the location of all data related to a particular news topic, cloud-based billing and cloud-based team collaboration.

Representatives of the VISION Cloud team receiving the Special Award at IBC 2013. Starting second from the left: Hillel Kolodner – IBM Research, Haifa; Eliot Salant – IBM Research, Haifa; Alberto Messina – RAI.

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(Article from net-cloud future magazine (2013) - for complete magazine click here)