An In Depth Conversation with Backblaze Executives Elton Carneiro and James Flores Jr.

Posted on Friday, March 29, 2024

Is Cloud Storage in Your Future Production Plans?

By Mark Foley, Technology Editor, ProductionHUB

I recently had the opportunity to speak with Elton Carneiro, Senior Director, Partnerships and James Flores Jr. Product Manager M & E, from Backblaze.

Backblaze is a company that focuses on cloud storage and has amassed an impressive client list of studios, production facilities, and other A list clients. I wanted to learn more about the process of storing data in the cloud and also to find out more about what was going on in this rapidly growing area in the production and post production workflow.

PH: Please tell us about your company Backblaze.

Elton Carneiro: Yeah, so overall as a company, we are a cloud storage platform. We focus on making cloud storage affordable, easy, and accessible to a whole bunch of different types of companies out there focus strongly on the mid-market space. We're fully street compatible and we work with all the different kinds of tools that exist in the media as well as other in other use cases like backup and infrastructure and so on.

PH: How do you get clients to move away from long term tape storage and over to the cloud?

Elton Carneiro: It's, definitely a very interesting question because it comes down to motivation on both sides. We need to understand what the customer is motivated about. And where the customer is in the technology kind of like, you know, a journey.

The folks who are completely against the cloud and you can tell them anything you want, and they'll be like, nope, nope, nope, the cloud is bad. But there are other folks who have evolved and said, hey, we understand the value the cloud brings. We understand how to align the, you know, our business with, with how the cloud operates.

We know how to make the cloud work for us as a company versus, you know, relying on things like capital expenditures, like, you know, anything on Prem is cap space, right, which means that the company needs to spend a lot of money up front. And over time, amortize that spend, whereas, you know, companies need to figure out, avoid that and find something that's more operational expense versus the capital expense. So, it all comes out the motivation in the end, I would say, and motivation from, you know, from both sides, not only the customer side, but also what we can do to make sure that we are aligned with the customers’ needs and customer desires.

PH: James you have a lot of experience in the postproduction space, can you touch on that?

James Flores: Okay. And on my end, my title is product marketing manager for M&E. So, my role is really to take our product and help create content and understanding about how it can be used for my vertical. Of course, my vertical is media and entertainment. But outside that too, I'm also a video editor and do a lot of indie film work. So, it’s kind of like goes hand in hand with what I do in in my day job. I have been using Adobe Premiere for probably for 20 years, but I've also been doing a project right now using Blackmagic Design Resolve and we are also working in collaboration with Scott from Trailblazer Studios located in Raleigh, North Carolina.

PH: How did that relationship start?

James Flores: I actually met with Trailblazer last year, almost a year from now I was at a conference with them and we're at, we're at the HPA Conference and we started talking about cloud storage. I said to Scott you know; I do work at Backblaze. We store data, store content. Scott (from Trailblazer) then mentioned to me like, they were looking into something like that because they have a lot of LTO tapes that they don't want to manage anymore. And they're sending them off site and they also have copies locally.

And they don't want to deal with it anymore. They were looking into cloud storage, and they wanted to try our cloud storage product because they were familiar with our backup product, our PC backup product.

The other interesting thing about that conversation is that Trailblazer had done some work with a project called Fathead, which was a virtual production from ETC. A lot of the technology they used was cloud based, right? Storing data in the cloud, moving it from, you know, onset to, to your postproduction house through the DIT, all in the cloud. So, I explained this is our object storage product. It’s S3 compatible, you can store stuff in here and we have all these integrations to tie you in, not only backup. So that really is what kind of like intrigued them into thinking, well, if we started here today with tape and our disaster recovery and get off the tape, but then that kind of lead us down a road to more cloud production in the future.

That intrigued them into thinking, well, if we started here today with tape and our disaster recovery and get off the tape, but then that kind of lead us down a road to more cloud production in the future. They're storing things up in the cloud.

Elton Carneiro: So, so the whole idea is that the backup strategy was for them to keep a copy of those tapes on premise and keep a second copy at a facility that they were renting space out of as a secondary copy, which is in the same city as where they were. And that in by having that location, the same city, because they could be needed access to it. They need to drive over and reduce costs and so on kind of went against the compliance regulation that they were mandated to have by all the different studios, et cetera, of having the data geographically distant from where they were.

So, by leveraging the cloud, they're now able to easily from their own infrastructure, from their own on-prem set, upload and backup all that data to a location. That is not within the same geography as them, which allows them to check off that compliance box. In other words, my backup is geographically away from where I am physically located.

PH: Are there any particular products in your lineup that would be applicable towards Trailblazer or others? There are people that have just done their first project and then are bigger companies that are obviously larger studios like Trailblazer that are doing some pretty big work.

Elton Carneiro: Yeah, so we have, we have two services as, you know, James mentioned, we have our computer backup service, which is meant to backup PCs and Macs. This is what Trailblazer started with. They had a whole bunch of, you know, computers in the offices that they wanted backed up to the cloud.

As they started taking on more shows, more work and so on, right, they had to move to a centralized storage way by centralized storage was managing all of these assets managing all of these things. Now they needed to find a way to make sure that centralized storage is now backed up to tape as well as backed up to the cloud, right, which then obviously a computer backup does not serve that use case.

So, we moved to our B2 cloud storage, which is agnostic and doesn't care what kind of data you store in it. There’re a bazillion tools out there that can connect into our, you know, our storage platform and because we are S3 compatible and, you know, a lot of people out there have built applications that talk to a storage.

PH: How does cloud storage change production and production workflows?

Elton Carneiro: There's a native integration. When they adopted our B2 cloud storage platform they could store in the cloud and whenever find their media whenever they needed it, they can just pull that content back. They don't have to worry about finding a tape. They don't have to worry about driving to a location. They can literally do this from anywhere from as long as they have an internet connection and a computer.

PH: So, they can go right from the location to your systems and to your backups? Or will they go send everything to their post house first?

Elton Carneiro: So, it all depends on the media workflow that they have designed for the organization and for the production. If, they have a whole bunch of folks on premise or headquarters, do it waiting to do the post, then it makes sense for all that content to go to your office facility where you have access to all of this talent that's going to do work on that content. Then they can think about, hey, I've done the work. I want to leverage the best talent with every day may be located versus being confined to a geographic location. Right. I want to leverage cloud tools on a leverage cloud services.

So, the adopt tool like media asset managers that are born in the cloud. And they'll say, hey, step one, upward to be two. And then step two, connect a man that's in the cloud to this bucket of data with a mam index, great proxies, you know, it's because it's extracting all the metadata that you need.

And now you can now, you know, have proxies in the cloud, which you can create, you know, clips on, do your off cards, do whatever work for you need to kick off from that point. So it really comes down to, you know, what the customers looking for, you know, in terms of, you know, use cases, we're really good for backup, we're really good for active archive, we're really good for cloud production. So we serve all those use cases and we encourage our customers to think how they could leverage us in our storage platform to get the most efficient, you know, a streamline process that they can implement in the organization.

We actually have a customer called Goldcast doing exactly that. I mean, they were they were shipping drives around before implementing us. And now everything goes upload into Backblaze.

They have a cloud person that reads it and then they start editing right away. So today anyone can upload content from wherever they are, right, to our cloud storage platform.

PH: Any last thoughts as we wrap up?

James Flores: I would say the thing for me that's really important in the space is a lot of our customers come to us with backup. That's their first goal. Hey, let's do a backup. And once you realize your date is in the cloud and you realize it's accessible to not only you, but to anybody else who you're working with, then that opens up the world of possibilities because now you can layer on a man layer on this cloud tour that cloud. Cloud tool or higher editors in Romania, if you want, because now all your data is in the cloud and accessible. And that really ties into where the industry is going with like the movie that was 20, 30 vision of centralized storage accessible in the cloud and moving there and were a way to get you started there.

And that's kind of the tail end of the Trailblazer story. They're doing backup and their data is accessible. Now they're ready for the future. Now they're ready to say, okay, once we finish something. And then we want to do distribution while I can put it in that bucket and distribute it from there. It's no longer like shipping drives shipping tapes.

Any of that's if you just put in your bucket and you can distribute it from there. You can get stuff. Like we said earlier, you get it from production directly in there. So, I'm envisioning the future of this is like cloud storage and center and everything is tying into it. Connecting putting stuff in pulling it out putting back in pulling it out. And that's kind of really where we're going.

So, start with backup moving to the active archive where you can actually use that archive because LTO tapes. What do you do with them? You put them on a shelf, and they sit there until you need them.

Well, in this space, your backup can become an active archive that you can actually actively use and monetize and then down the road, you're doing cloud production and everything's in the cloud.

Elton Carneiro: Yeah, I mean, so we have a number of different offerings when it comes to customers thinking about the cloud, right. And, you know, as I mentioned earlier, our biggest thing is making cloud storage easy for customers from adopting it to using it to you know beyond. And one of the things that we have learned is that the lift and shift to the cloud can be complicated can be, you know, have our complexity to it.

If a customer has a SANA or a NAS that's full of data or a bunch of hard drives in the closet, right, we'll ship our fireball, a backways fireball which is our rapid ingest device to the customer, they can load up that device, ship it back to us at no cost. If a customer has a whole bunch of data on Amazon S3 or Google cloud storage, right, and it costs a lot of money to egress, we'll pay that egress bill, right. So, we really want to unlock and unchain customers from where they are.

This is part of our new brand is, you know, break free, place forward. We want customers to think beyond what the existing infrastructure with the existing limitation is keep moving forward in the direction of the cloud, you know, use the cloud to your advantage. And yeah, that's the whole concept of media.

Closing Thoughts

As the pace of production and post production continues to hurtle ahead, smarter workflows and even smarter data management will be a must-have, not a want to have. Leveraging newer technologies into what we do is not always an easy process, but in order to keep up, we need to continue to swim as fast as we can, lest we get left behind.