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Blue Ant Media Triples Performance and Lowers Power Usage with Qumulo

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Blue Ant Media, an international producer, distributor, and channel operator based in Canada, creates and broadcasts lifestyle and reality entertainment. From scripted and unscripted television and animated series to its multi-platform brand Cottage Life, Blue Ant’s premium content is delivered to global audiences across digital, social, print, broadcast, and live events.

The variety of their file data content and channels created disparate workflows. Evolving media formats combined with changes in how content is viewed and distributed globally, put pressure on Blue Ant’s storage solutions. As these demands grew and their media services library expanded with new offerings and new media formats, Blue Ant experienced exponential jumps in file data size. “Broadcast files weren’t just twice as big. They were sometimes four, eight, or sixteen times as big,” explained Kyle Spooner, Systems Administrator at Blue Ant Media.

The company sends out multiple terabytes of content daily, including to many of its key broadcast partners. As a result, Blue Ant needed a way to easily retrieve its file data. In addition, a distributed and remote workforce, as a result of the pandemic, increases the mission-critical need to have a scalable storage solution that can easily handle the growing volume of file data and multiple workflows.

Blue Ant couldn’t keep up with its storage demands relying on a legacy solution and needed ease of use, stability, speed, and flexibility with both large and small files. With Qumulo, they improved performance, increased efficiency and did so at a lower cost than upgrading the legacy system.

“Access to storage and ease of use has been an issue for us from the beginning, but as Blue Ant Media grows, it’s become a more significant challenge. With the initial implementation and move of data from our legacy system to Qumulo, we were able to go from zero to 400 terabytes almost immediately, problem-free.” – Kyle Spooner, Systems Administrator, Blue Ant Media

Steadfast customer success with Qumulo

From the very beginning, Blue Ant Media experienced impressive and proactive customer support from the Qumulo team. “This started early on, and is what sold me on Qumulo,” explained Kyle. Straightforward onboarding and clear online documentation enabled a smooth, easy transition to Qumulo and supported Cottage Life, Blue Ant’s multi-platform media brand, which was the first to move its file data to Qumulo. During this process, a small hardware issue was discovered. Qumulo was on top of it, Kyle explained. The Qumulo customer success team reached out before he or the Cottage Life team were aware of the issue—with almost immediate resolution.

Qumulo also provides resources like tooltips, knowledge-based articles, and smart product features, such as autofill, which improve quality of life for members of the IT team. With the combination of straightforward guidance on how to use the platform and consistent support, Blue Ant is better positioned to avoid or troubleshoot storage issues and is able to effectively manage its data. And having a simple-to-use and understandable system not only means getting Qumulo up and running with little-to-no training, but it’s also great for Kyle and his team who are IT generalists and not storage specialists.

Blue Ant achieves nearly 100 percent storage efficiency after consolidating media services workflows with Qumulo

The company’s animation, production, and Cottage Life teams have multiple petabytes of file data that need to be transcoded and distributed, a process that is network-heavy and data hungry.

“We take these raw files, put them on the servers, crunch them, and deliver them.” It requires speed, stability, and flexibility when you have several applications that contribute to the content creation process—particularly broadcast media. From Avid Media Composers to Harmony Toon Boom, and Adobe Premiere or Telestream Lightspeed, all of Blue Ant’s applications impact data usage and needs. Their legacy storage solution was consistently at 85 to 90 percent used capacity and demand for more capacity was relentless as the staff managed content and juggled applications—but running at almost 100 percent negatively affected performance and to increase capacity meant additional cost.

By choosing Qumulo, Blue Ant was able to reap the benefits of small file storage efficiency, regaining a lot of wasted storage capacity. Plus, the real-time analytics that provide actual data use by each person enabled Blue Ant to proactively manage its storage requirements as well as understand estimates of future storage needs. “Qumulo lets me drill down and discover if certain departments actually need storage, what’s the real purpose, and if we can make things better,” said Kyle.

“With Qumulo we amalgamated and organized our library files in a proper setup, not folders here, there, and everywhere. We were able to structurally bring almost 400 terabytes to one location with easily accessible touchpoints.”

Enhanced performance boosts productivity and creates time savings

Qumulo easily handles Telestream’s fast buffering and rendering—a major workflow, but one of many that are consolidated and dependent on Qumulo’s file data platform. The increased performance of the actual workflow was not the only value Blue Ant gained from Qumulo.

The new cluster required less power than the legacy system and provided triple the performance. Qumulo Instant Software Upgrades also had a major impact on improving management of the cluster and the life of the IT department. “An update on the legacy solution took nearly three hours for five nodes. I upgraded six Qumulo nodes in five minutes,” Kyle explained. When performing replications with Qumulo, Blue Ant got four gigabytes per second instead of the 700 megabits per second with the legacy vendor.

“We’ve been able to keep up with storage and deliver on speed with Qumulo. It runs two times faster than our old system and is more reliable. This is even with the media services library workflow sitting on top of the other side of the server taxing it,” said Kyle.

Having stability with faster performance and user-friendly analytics, Blue Ant better manages and uses storage capacity to improve quality of life for the IT department and work production for its departments and business users.

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