From tape to cloud to GenAI

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Exploring the journey from physical tape archives to cloud-based storage and the integration of Generative AI, Iron Mountain Media & Archive Services, in partnership with Google Cloud, unveils a solution for the media and entertainment industry.

Greg Maratea
Greg Maratea
Director, Global Client Solutions | Iron Mountain Media & Archive Services
19 April 20247 mins
From Tape to Cloud to GenAI
We are thrilled to announce our partnership with Google Cloud, a collaboration that brings together Iron Mountain Media & Archive Services' expertise in media preservation with Google Cloud’s GenAI technology. This alliance is set to transform the way our clients manage and activate their media archives. By integrating our archival knowledge with Google Cloud’s cutting-edge artificial intelligence, we are not just preserving content—we are unlocking its potential, ensuring that our clients can access and leverage their media assets for innovative opportunities and insights.

In our experience with media asset collections, we found clients knew they needed to do something about their assets, but starting to do some migration, any migration, was elusive. They were well aware that the machines for playback were becoming rarer and rarer with each passing day. They experienced trying to play an old tape, only to find that the playback is flawed and degraded. Yet, the realities of the task of true digital transformation held them back. Realities such as… "Where do I start?" There was so much volume in their collection. There was so much ambiguity in their collection. Absent easy playback, just knowing which assets to prioritize was an educated guess as well as a gamble. We heard, "We know there’s gold in there, but we don’t know where."

Once digitized, they found the task of long-term digital storage and access just as challenging. Yet, in meetings, clients told us what we, Iron Mountain, were there to tell them - they should be thinking about a strategy to migrate, preserve, and ideally put to use, their collections. However, given the size of the collection and the lack of clarity regarding the content of each and every asset, large digital transformation costs were difficult to justify. Inaction was a viable option. The answer was to create a strategy: most vulnerable first, or chronological order, or content you know you can put to use first. All are designed to make a first step, a gateway. As proponents of migration and a means of preservation, we would caution against trying to do entire collections, as the roadblocks lead to inaction.  
Then, in 2022, things changed. Clients came to us saying they wanted to do the entire collection. Large collections. They would say, "Let’s digitize the entire collection, all, possibly this year." What changed? Certainly, the challenges were still present, right?

There was one consistent rationale for digitizing large collections: Generative AI (GenAI).

Our clients felt secure in Cloud Storage and Access, but more to the point, clients felt GenAI would unlock the potential of their collections. Organizations envision a future where AI can help organize archives, summarize hours of video, and more. Seeing the leap forward in Google’s Gemini, Google Cloud’s Vision Warehouse, and Google Cloud’s Vertex AI, GenAI tools gave organizations new confidence in the ability to use migrated content, find the gems, and offset or profit from the costs of migration. GenAI is the game changer, the enabler. GenAI searches via natural language prompts, a leap from the previous advances of AI/ML tagging, transcription, translation, image similarity. All of the previous roadblocks were trivialized by the fact that GenAI unlocks content, allows searchability, allows for the use of material, and possibly monetization or brand enhancement. Looking at the entire picture of a library of assets + migration + search, the combination of Iron Mountain Media and Archive Services + Google Cloud unlocked limitless potential in a convenient, end-to-end solution.
Iron Mountain Media and Archive Services has the domain knowledge, experience, equipment, storage, logistics, and digital archive product: Smart Vault. Google Cloud has the edge in the wave of life-changing GenAI technology. Combining the two provides a turn-key, end-to-end solution that integrates content in Smart Vault in Google Cloud with Vision Warehouse and Vertex AI. This solution offers a host of benefits, including the ability to search for content across a wide range of media types, including video, images, and text; the ability to generate transcripts, translations, and summaries of content; and the ability to detect and classify objects in images. Our end-to-end solution, from tape to cloud to GenAI, helps customers digitize their assets more intelligently, migrate them to the cloud, and leverage the power of AI to unlock the value of their content.
The promise goes beyond search, there is the prospect of GenAI being able to deliver all of the materials needed for a rough cut for a certain topic. GenAI can return searches showing only the material already licensed and owned by the organization. Using Iron Mountain's AMICS process, GenAI is used to analyse images of the assets labels and cases, to provide rapid insight into the collection, where the duplicate protection masters are, allowing for prioritization. Allowing the client to push forward batches of assets that Media and Archive Services will digitize leveraging years of experience and warehouses of equipment.

So how does it work? Iron Mountain Media & Archive Services starts by scanning physical media to create digital files, ensuring your historical content is digitized for preservation and future use. Once scanned, the media is then stored in a cloud storage system, applying best practices in digital asset management to maintain the integrity and quality of the media over time. Smart Vault then incorporates Google Cloud’s Vertex AI and Vision Warehouse to provide advanced AI services like audio transcription, content summarization, text OCR (Optical Character Recognition), and the identification of celebrities/athletes, landmarks, locations, objects, and products within the media. This AI-enhanced metadata is crucial for content discoverability and management. The process culminates in the generation of rich metadata, which is the core output that powers searchability, categorization, and management within the Smart Vault system. By utilizing Iron Mountain's Smart Vault solution in conjunction with Google Cloud's AI and machine learning capabilities, media and entertainment entities can preserve their digital content with the highest security, manage their archives with advanced technology, and easily adapt to future technological advancements, ensuring their valuable assets remain accessible and relevant over time.
From Tape to Cloud to GenAI
The collaboration between Iron Mountain Media & Archive Services and Google Cloud is not just about moving data from physical formats to the cloud; it's a transformative journey that enables organizations to harness the full potential of their archives. By overcoming the initial hurdles of digitization and embracing the capabilities of GenAI, clients can unlock new value from their archives, ensuring their assets are not just preserved but actively contributing to their future success.

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