For nearly 20 years, broadcast
engineers and IT professionals alike have used the symbol of the cloud to
denote the Internet in technical and workflow diagrams. This nebulous shape
referred to the often hard-to-define physical space of the Internet, where
hardware could be in multiple geographic locations, and connected via a
multitude of differing paths.
Today, this space is home to cloud computing, where businesses around the world
are using the Internet’s global connectivity and leveraging powerful new data
centers to expand their businesses and services. Though providing fertile
ground for e-commerce, not every business likes this model. Many media and
entertainment organizations have been wary about moving their content out of
their tightly controlled internal networks to offsite where it is under someone
The concern is not over productivity software, but rather, control of
assets as many media professionals are currently using cloud-based services
such as Salesforce.com and Office365 in their facilities. These programs offer
a new purchase model that offers cost and expense efficiencies that businesses
“Businesses are asking for a pricing and packaging model that is OPEX, with low
setup costs and scalability,” said Rick Clarkson, vice president of product
management for Signiant, a Burlington, Mass.-based provider of cloud-based
media transfer applications. Cloud-based services typically offer
subscription-based services, managed via web portals that can dramatically
reduce local hardware, software and staffing costs.
“These systems can be more reliable and less costly than managing all
these elements in house,” said Jim Martinolich, vice president of integration
technologies for ChyronHego in Melville, N.Y. Both ChyronHego and Signiant have
been offering products for several years that allow media professionals to
access cloud-based services.
World Graphics system
Broadcasters in particular have been wary about exposing their assets or their
on-air systems to the Internet. Most have extensive firewalls and VPNs that
manage any asset transfer in or out of their facilities. “Availability and
security are valid concerns,” Martinolich said. He believes that concepts and
terminology behind what cloud computing really means can be as nebulous, as
well yes, a cloud.
Ian Fletcher, chief technology officer of digital media and workflow
at Grass Valley in Montreal agrees.
“I think that there is a huge amount of confusion in this area,” he said.
Fletcher said he sees some companies throwing cloud buzzwords around without
fully explaining what they are doing in the cloud.
There are many challenges presented by entry into cloud computing for
media businesses; from security and understanding the technology, to the
financial pressures to pursue more efficient technologies. These all have media
professionals taking cautious steps toward the cloud.
chief technology officer of digital media and workflow at
Valley in Montreal
“There is a huge difference between using the cloud as a way of storing files,
effectively as offsite storage, and true cloud computing using the SaaS model,”
Fletcher said. Software as a Service is one of three cloud computing terms that
those venturing into the cloud need to know. He sees many IT vendors confusing
people with the migration of facility computing to data centers as more an
exercise in virtualization and cost cutting than leveraging cloud computing.
There are three basic components to full cloud computing, they are
SaaS, Infrastructure as a Service and Platform as a Service. Here IaaS provides
the hardware basis at the data centers, and PaaS is the platform or operating
system for software programs to run. SaaS needs IaaS and PaaS to function and
to provide the customer access to the service.
Several well-known broadcast and media production companies have begun to offer
systems that introduce cloud computing benefits, but in looking closely, there
are differing approaches taken by each vendor.
Martinolich said that with ChyronHego’s Axis World Graphics system, “Our
service is completely in the cloud, with all of our servers residing in
redundant data centers.”