In this final installment of Signiant’s 11-part series Metadata Everywhere, we end at the beginning. This installment looks at one of the simplest to understand yet perhaps the most important use of metadata: chain of custody. Chain of custody provides basic visibility and reporting regarding who has accessed which files and when. We will also recap the series and highlight key takeaways.
When it comes to secure oversight of valuable content, media companies require a highly dependable source of truth about where and when assets have been transferred. As content files move around, Signiant customers want to always ensure they know who has accessed which files and when, and who sent them where. Since file transfer is at the core of everything we do, it means keeping a record of any and all transfers! Knowing the chain of custody for every file sent and received, whether initiated by human or automated means, is dependent on metadata.
Chain of custody techniques address two important areas: practical questions and security issues. The practical question is simply informational. You send a file, and you want to know if the recipient has received it and perhaps quite probably, if they’ve downloaded it. Simple yet important information on a need-to-know basis so everyday work tasks can be completed in a timely fashion.
From a security perspective, if there’s a leak of a valuable file asset, your company will want to go back and identify everyone who had access to that file. Through the Signiant Platform, you can identify every person that had access to a file simply by looking at the chain of custody logs in the system.
Chain of custody is built into the Signiant Platform so whether files are moved with Media Shuttle, Jet or Flight Deck that information is always captured. It’s always on. If you are an administrator and want to know if Person A got that file, you could look it up and verify that it was sent, and if so then verify if it was downloaded. This is by far the most common use of chain of custody regarding Signiant Platform users.
Media Shuttle automatically creates a record when sending a file. It’s not something that needs activation. There is a central ledger that logs, “Person A sent this file.” Every time a file is sent, it gets recorded in the database. An authorized person can look at records of who sent what or who downloaded what or who uploaded what and trace who had the file.
For automated system-to-system transfers using Jet, every 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. For critical transfer updates without the need to constantly monitor jobs via the product interface, partners can individually subscribe to Jet email notifications.
For completed transfers, the Jet interface displays job details, including when a job was last modified and by whom, and lists which files were moved by filename (which can also be searched as noted). 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.
Chain of custody information is mission-critical to most media workflows. When dealing with high-value assets that move between people and systems within and between companies, customers must know which assets were accessed, when and by whom. It’s another powerful example of how the Signiant Platform works with metadata everywhere.
Here is a recap of the Signiant Series, Metadata Everywhere:
Most media companies know Signiant for our ability to move large files fast. After all, our software moves petabytes of content every day across the global media supply chain, and we’ve been a bedrock in the industry for more than fifteen years. What may be less familiar is Signiant’s involvement with metadata. In order to deliver on the ‘intelligence’ in our intelligent file transfer software, we generate, extract, manage, and take actions based on all sorts of metadata. In fact, the role we play in the modern media technology stack is increasingly weighted in this direction.
When content aggregators receive assets that don’t comply with their delivery specs, time and resources are wasted. A popular capability of the Signiant Platform is CloudSpeX, which extracts technical metadata for comparison with a predefined delivery specification. By rejecting transfers of noncompliant assets, the system puts the onus for basic quality control on content suppliers.
Metadata-intensive standards such as Interoperable Master Format (IMF) can be challenging for nontechnical users. IMF is a very powerful standard, but it isn’t inherently user friendly. The Signiant Platform makes it easy for a user to access just the version of an asset they need, displaying more user-friendly information about each component of an IMF package.
Efficient media supply chains depend upon the accumulation of information as assets move through the content lifecycle, and some of this information is captured by people. Media Shuttle meets this need with a very flexible means of including custom metadata forms for user input. That metadata then remains associated with the assets as they proceed through the supply chain.
Many variables influence transfer performance. Signiant’s patented intelligent transport architecture uses machine learning and a variety of data inputs to maximize transfer speeds. The real-time sensing of network and compute information, along with historical information and specific metadata about the assets being moved, such as file size and number of files, all help determine the optimal way to transfer a given data set over any IP network.
Signiant has long been the trusted broker of inter-company content exchange. With the introduction of Signiant Jet, we’ve made it even easier to set up and manage the secure exchange of content between companies. Once two companies set up mutually agreed upon transfer jobs, brokered through the control plane, both sides have access to information about transfers including chain of custody. The control plane maintains metadata to control who has access to an asset and under what circumstances.
Just as essence files continue to grow in size, so do the files that contain all kinds of associated metadata. Whether essence or metadata, specialized software is required for sending and sharing files once they get beyond a certain size. Media companies increasingly rely on the Signiant Platform to move both file types around the world with speed, reliability, and security. Our foundation in accelerated file movement only grows in importance as the volume of metadata continues to increase.
One of the many benefits of multi-tenant SaaS is access to anonymized data about what is going on in the industry at large. More than 50,000 companies connected to the Signiant Platform provides unique visibility into emerging trends that can be used to inform our product development efforts or offer industry insight to our customers. The IMF capabilities added to the platform in 2018 are a great example. As more and more IMF packages were being moved on the platform, it was clear that adoption of the standard was growing, and this helped inform the decision to add intelligent IMF support.
As the industry embraces loosely coupled, event-driven integrations, access to metadata via APIs offers an easy way to develop workflows using modern tools. Signiant has taken an API-first approach to our platform so that developers can easily connect our products to other systems. Workflows can be readily stitched together using event-related metadata to trigger specific actions, and other forms of metadata can be used to inform workflow decision points.
Media companies need to be able to view, organize, manage, and find assets that are stored across a wide variety of storage types and locations. The Signiant Platform is uniquely suited to this role now with Media Engine, a powerful new service that provides users the capability to search and preview assets. Wherever your assets are stored, Media Engine makes it easy to find the content you’re looking for and preview a file before you send it. It’s a logical extension of the role Signiant has long played in providing fast, secure access to media assets, regardless of storage type or location.
11. Chain of Custody
When it comes to secure oversight of valuable content, media companies require a highly dependable source of truth about where and when assets have been transferred. With both Media Shuttle — for person-initiated transfers — and Jet — for automated transfers — chain of custody information is available for any asset that is moved. Supply chain tracking can also be an important part of sustainability initiatives, adding another application for data of this type.