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Signiant is 5G ready. Are you?

By Michael Darer | Jul 8, 2020

As the hype around 5G continues to grow, and deployments expand worldwide, discussion around the specific benefits the technology will provide media organizations is intensifying. With the promise of greater bandwidth and low latency, 5G promises to be a powerful ally to media companies tasked with moving massive amounts of content under tight deadlines on a regular basis. But for organizations who are eager to seize on the full potential of 5G, the network alone won’t cut it. The right software is required to take full advantage of 5G, and that’s where Signiant comes in.

Taking full advantage of 5G

Signiant’s patented transport architecture has always worked to solve what we call “the bandwidth conundrum.” When attempting to transfer massive files many assume the problem is their bandwidth, and shell out substantial sums to add on to what they have. Unfortunately, this alone often doesn’t solve the problem, as standard transfer tools aren’t capable of taking advantage of all available bandwidth. One of the most common misconceptions about moving large files is that bandwidth always translates into throughput, or — even more erroneous — that they’re simply the same thing. While bandwidth is the maximum speed at which data travels across a network, throughput is the speed at which it actually moves. This means that, while 5G will drastically increase bandwidth, throughput may ultimately still depend on the software being used. 

While Signiant is well-known for its proprietary UDP acceleration, which is ideal when latency is high, our newer intelligent transport architecture uses machine learning to determine the best way to send data based on both current and historical conditions. In the case of 5G, where latency can be very low, the transport may deploy parallel TCP streams to take advantage of all that bandwidth. Whatever the condition of the network, our transport architecture will find the best possible path and adapt dynamically. Without this, you might as well be driving a slow car on a very fast highway.

Challenges beyond speed

In addition to speed, moving data in media presents other challenges.  And while these challenges are independent of the network being used, they are important considerations when thinking about which software to use —  5G or otherwise.

Reliability – Regardless of the type of network being used or size of file being sent, network interruptions are always a possibility. Signiant software includes Checkpoint Restart which automatically restarts an interrupted transfer from the point of failure. While raw speed is certainly important, without reliability, operations are at risk.

Large files vs. millions of files – In media, dealing with massive files is the norm, but it’s not uncommon that an organization works with massive datasets consisting of tens of thousands or even millions of smaller files. With frame-by-frame formats, such as those often used in VFX, moving folders with millions of files presents different challenges, and traditional file transfer methods don’t handle that well either, if at all. With application-level protocols such as FTP and HTTP each file typically requires at least one round trip. This necessitates a pause-and-send effect at the application layer on a per-file basis. Using multiple parallel streams is one technique that will reduce the impact of this pausing. For large data sets made up of many small files, settings that maximize the speed of switching from one file to the next can make a big difference in the overall time it takes to complete a job. Another approach is to pipeline sending files to eliminate the per-file blocking roundtrip for acknowledgement. Signiant software is capable of sending both any-size file as well as folders with millions of files and will use these techniques to optimize the movement of whatever data set is in play.

Growing Files – One of the most prevalent applications of 5G will be more flexibility in remote production. When producing a live event and using remote teams, working with growing files is likely to come into play. Growing files are files that are still being written to disk and software that can handle these enables major flexibility in live production. Signiant software is able to handle the transfer of a growing file from the source as soon as it starts being written to disc, and can also enable continued work on that file at the destination while it’s still growing. The combination of 5G and this capability will offer new flexibility in remote productions. 

Moving data between file storage and object storage –  In an increasingly hybrid cloud/multi-cloud world, being able to move content between multiple types of storage is vital. Object storage (most typically used with public cloud providers) and file storage (more commonly on-premises) both offer distinct advantages for different situations. There’s even been a recent surge in the use of on-prem object storage so the storage landscape continues to get more and more complex. Luckily, Signiant’s commitment to storage independence means you always get to choose where your files live, and makes it easy to access and move content between any type of storage. Even if you haven’t adopted a hybrid storage approach yet Signiant’s software provides a nice abstraction layer giving you the agility to introduce new storage types from any provider without disrupting operations.

Signiant is bringing M&E into the 5th generation

As many an industry expert has said, 5G is all but inevitable, and — while people might debate the full adoption timeline — organizations are already hankering to take advantage of the technology where it’s available. However, 5G alone, without the right software, won’t live up to its full potential.

For over 15 years Signiant has been providing enterprise-grade software to the M&E industry, enabling content exchange between people, partners, systems and the cloud. Over that time, networks have continued to evolve, the storage landscape has become far more complex and operations more global. As major innovations like 5G promise to reshape the media landscape in ways both small and large, Signiant strives to provide tools that help businesses navigate each new curve as it appears.

So, yes: 5G is coming and its impact could be spectacular for many across the industry. But if you want to be one of those, you have to be ready. Which is why Signiant is getting ready for you.

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