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Signiant Series

Metadata Everywhere: A Modern Approach to Inter-company Content Exchange

Signiant introduces Metadata Everywhere, a new series about our innovative Software-Defined Content Exchange (SDCX) architecture and how it facilitates interactions with both media essence and metadata across disparate and distributed storage environments.

By the time a finished media asset is distributed to all the broadcast and streaming platforms on which it will be made available, it will have passed through multiple internal systems. While some projects are still completed entirely in-house, most media and entertainment companies now rely on a network of external partnerships that contribute specialized skills and expertise at various stages of production. Each time an asset moves between organizations, there may be new security considerations and auditing requirements, as well as new storage locations and types. This often-intricate network places significant pressure on organizations to develop an adaptable inter-company content exchange infrastructure that is simple to set up and maintain, provides visibility and control, and doesn’t invite intrusion into internal networks or storage.

Metadata plays important roles when implementing systems for the secure exchange of media assets between companies. Metadata gathered by the system can be displayed via a product interface, providing each company with insight into current and historical transfers. The availability of the data also makes transfer activity searchable by the individual parties. Most importantly, chain-of-custody metadata can serve as a resource to identify the provenance of assets or confirm ownership rights.

Inter-company Content Exchange Challenges

Moving and accessing content within an organization is challenging in itself. Transferring and tracking assets across multiple organizations, each with its own configuration of on-premises and cloud systems, often adds layers of complexity. Possible barriers to smoothly-functioning inter-company content exchange include:

Diversity of Partners

The global media supply chain includes thousands of companies, ranging in scale from just a few people at a single location to massive enterprises with locations around the world. Each partnership can introduce new connection challenges and security protocols.

Diversity of Storage

It’s rare for media companies to store their assets exclusively in the cloud. Instead, many enterprises address a range of use cases by opting for a hybrid approach that may include file and object storage, located both on-premises and in the cloud. The uniqueness of each company’s storage mix can create hurdles and compatibility issues, particularly when working with external partners.

Security Concerns

Threats to the security of information are at an all-time high and concerns for media companies only grow when collaborating with multiple partners, some of which may be quite small and have limited IT resources.

Time Pressures

Time is always a scarce resource in media. Transfer operations need to move assets quickly and reliably. It should be fast and simple to add and remove partners as required. And critical information must be easy to access at any given moment from anywhere.

Signiant: The Trusted Broker for Inter-company Content Exchange

Since the earliest days of file-based workflows, Signiant has been a trusted broker for inter-company content exchange. While Signiant is known as a leader in file movement and acceleration technologies, the company has evolved naturally to provide the logic and security for content transfer between organizations.

Signiant offers a range of software solutions, each of which addresses a different class of inter-company file transfer use cases:

  • Manager+Agents helps the world’s largest media companies automate the movement of petabytes of data, both within and between companies.
  • Our cloud-native SaaS application, Media Shuttle, connects more than 50,000 companies for manual inter-company transfer.
  • Signiant’s newest SaaS product, Jet, brings together our expertise in automated file transfer and our leadership in cloud-native SaaS to offer automated content exchange to companies of all sizes.
Learn More About Signiant’s Solutions

A Next-Generation Approach with Jet

Jet is built on Signiant’s Software-Defined Content Exchange (SDCX) platform, which also underpins the company’s widely-deployed SaaS product, Media Shuttle. The platform’s architecture separates the data plane, which moves the media assets themselves, from the multi-tenant control plane that orchestrates transfer jobs and authorizes inter-company content exchange with a simple and secure multi-party cloud handshake. This layer of abstraction not only simplifies the establishment of external partnerships, it also ensures that Signiant never takes custody of customer assets as they move from one company to the other.

Jet Inter-company Content Exchange

Using Jet, organizations of any size can work together to transfer content between their respective on-premises and/or cloud object storage. After establishing a cross trust using Jet’s simple yet secure cloud handshake mechanism, partners can build a route that connects source and destination storage locations. Mutually agreed upon transfer jobs can then move content from one company to the other.

Of course, even when working with a trusted partner, each company wants assurances that they’re only sharing the information they intend to make available externally. Signiant takes great care to ensure the creation of a Jet partner route is managed securely in the cloud, without sharing passwords or sensitive network information. Once a route connects partners, each company only has insight into that route and their own storage. At no time does either partner have access to the other organization’s network or storage locations.

Chain of Custody, Visibility, and Reporting

When it comes to secure oversight of valuable content, media companies require a highly dependable source of truth about where and when assets are transferred. In Jet, the SDCX platform’s data plane passes storage events and extracted metadata continuously to the multi-tenant control plane, providing partner companies with insight into transfer activity, enabling search, and instructing operations to be performed on the media.

Once a Jet partner job is created, each organization can view and search its information via the product interface. Partners can track the number of files in progress and in the queue, and an estimated completion time makes it easy to know when a transfer will finish.

For completed transfers, the Jet interface displays job details, including when a job was last modified and by whom. Advanced search capabilities let each company’s Jet administrator pinpoint the transfer information they need, with results returned quickly, even when searching all jobs across an entire transfer history.

For critical transfer updates without the need to constantly monitor jobs via the product interface, partners can individually subscribe to Jet email notifications. Every Jet administrator can customize their own set of notifications to receive information, such as completion details and alerts, for the transfer activity they choose to monitor.

How Signiant Jet Solves Inter-company Exchange Challenges

With increasingly complex content exchange workflows, organizations need access to tools that remove the common barriers to highly-functional inter-company operations. Jet helps organizations accomplish this in a variety of ways:

Jet Accommodates Diverse Partners

While enterprise-class inter-company technology isn’t always accessible to a network of smaller suppliers, Jet bridges the gap by providing a simple cloud handshake mechanism to securely connect partners, no matter their company size, location, or technical capabilities. With Jet, companies avoid the effort and expense of building and maintaining custom inter-company connections.

Jet Works With a Diverse Mix of Storage

Each partner company can maintain its own unique mix of storage, including on-premises file storage and cloud object storage. As always, Signiant is committed to its customers’ storage independence and continues to expand the list of storage options supported by Jet.

Jet Maintains the Security of Storage, Networks, and Assets

Jet inter-company connections allow each organization to maintain the security and privacy of their own internal systems when sharing content with a partner. Each company manages its own users, networks, and storage while still giving partners needed visibility into authorized jobs. Signiant’s technology also ensures the security of all assets as they move between companies.

Jet Frees Up Time

Jet’s automation of recurring, time-critical transfers offloads routine tasks from content creators, producers, and distributors alike. Signiant’s patented Intelligent Transport also eliminates the need for time-consuming manual tuning while optimizing transfer speed and performance on any IP network.

With thousands of media and entertainment companies already connected to the SDCX SaaS platform through Jet and Media Shuttle, Signiant makes it easy for organizations — large and small — to establish and maintain productive partnerships. The speed, security, and visibility that define Signiant’s modern approach to inter-company content exchange all expedite the flow of assets along media supply chains and ensure that the global appetite for creative content is satisfied.

Learn More About Jet

This brief is the fourth installment in our series, Metadata Everywhere. Other chapters explore, in more depth, the ways in which Signiant’s SDCX SaaS architecture works with the media essence and metadata across disparate and distributed storage environments. Learn about the many different ways media organizations can utilize the Signiant metadata framework to enhance productivity and optimize their technology stack.