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IBM Aims To Take Complexity Out of Media Storage

IBM's (NYSE: IBM) rolling out a new assessment service geared to help enterprises get a better grip on storage using a propriety framework that evaluates everything from architecture complexity to future data growth. IBM said it's specifically targeting film production, entertainment and other media companies.

Management Complexity Factor for Media (MCF for Media) includes a six to eight-week evaluation process that results in a customized program that lists out recommendations for two to three years of storage management.

Such niche service offerings are gaining ground as vertical markets, such as healthcare and entertainment, wrestle with demanding storage requirements and want better technology to improve data retrieval and more efficient data processes.

Today's product announcement also illustrates how vendors are tweaking specific products for specific customer needs.

"As media companies move deeply into digital technologies, their use of and reliance on data storage has become profound," Charles King, principal analyst, Pund-IT, told InternetNews.com.

"In addition, storing, retrieving and managing these files are inherently complex, resulting in a need for tailored solutions like IBM MCF for Media," he added.

As King noted, the media service falls in line with IBM's strategy of leveraging its hardware, software and service offerings into industry-specific solutions. In this case IBM is leveraging its acquisition of NovusCG last October.

IBM said it's invested more than $18 billion on public acquisitions since 1995. One of its most recent buys was Arsenal Digital Solutions, a tenured online backup player.

"The new solution should spark new business opportunities for IBM, and also highlights how NovusGC technology assets play a central role in MCF for Media," said King.

An IBM release said media companies "are facing a double-edged sword," when it comes to digital media storage needs, citing increasing data loads and the drive to optimize efficiency.

For example, MCF for Media's analysis can produce an actionable plan to reduce content searching and make decisions regarding particular video clips on demand.

IBM said its specialists use questionnaires and in-depth interviews with a customer's IT staff following a three-tier assessment program that touches on process maturity, information availability, automation in place as well as current tools and staff skills.

"These IT environments are scrambling on how to handle data growth and are now focused on disk storage issues rather than their business which is media production," Jerry Winner, IBM product manager for MCF, told InternetNews.com.

"This service removes the technical inhibitors to let them focus on their actual work, and gain quicker time to market and cheaper storage costs," he added.

Once all the data points are pulled together the customer is provided with a plan of action that extends out several years. The plan is reviewed and reassessed every few months as action tasks are implemented.

"It's about transforming the organization to take advantage of new technologies and find more efficient ways of doing business," Winner said.

For example many film production houses still airmail film tapes from remote locations to a home editing production facility, which can take days. Each day, explained Winner, represents hundreds of thousands of dollars in production expenses. The ability to digitize the content and send online to an editing house would eliminate much of the lag time and save big money.

"We help media companies achieve several goals from reducing costs to boosting service level agreements and increasing time to market by implementing new solutions as they come into play," Winner said.