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Remote TV Workflows Will Continue To Be A Priority Post Pandemic

Ziad Lamman, vice president of product at Teradici (Image credit: Teradici)

BURNABY, Canada—It’s been just about six months since TVTech and Teradici jointly fielded a survey to assess the use of remote workflows in television.

The findings, which are available from Teradici, revealed that the COVID-19 pandemic was a major factor motivating their adoption—whether it was to access existing workstations at the television station or virtualized alternatives in the cloud. It found 87.5% of respondents said their media enterprise had deployed remote workflows in response to the pandemic.

More than 75% said they expected these workflows to continue post pandemic. Their reasons included improved job satisfaction, greater productivity and a means to reduce the real estate footprint of their company. 

This interview with Ziad Lamman, vice president of product at Teradici, is a follow-up on that survey. In particular, I wanted to learn what findings stood out in his mind as most significant and if they continue to reflect the attitudes and experiences of broadcasters.

(An edited transcript.)

TVTech: Teradici and TVTech worked together on a reader survey to gauge attitudes about remote workflows, determine their prevalence and see what might happen once the pandemic passes. What were your general impressions about the findings? Did the responses match what you see in other markets?

Ziad Lamman: It was really great to see some validation, especially from the broadcast industry, around adopting remote technology. Some of the data points that came out of that survey around organizations saying—I think it was over 75% or 77% of organizations—that remote workflows will remain after COVID was really incredible to see. 

What we found is that the pandemic really accelerated [things] moving in that direction, and it accelerated really fast. What was something that was starting to happen pre-pandemic, really accelerated, and I think what we found, especially through some of the feedback in that survey, was that the organizations that jumped in and did this, and the majority of them did, felt like it brought them many business benefits right away.

I would say the feedback from the broadcast industry was slightly higher than the general industry. They were probably unique because the broadcast industry had to keep content going during the pandemic, whereas some other industries actually had a slowdown. So, I think the combination of broadcast needing to keep content going or even having to increase the rate of content made and remote workflows was a perfect match. We're really happy to see the rapid adoption there.

TVTech: PC-over-IP (PCoIP) is one piece of the puzzle from your point of view. The cloud and remotely accessing workstations on site is another. While the survey showed interest in the cloud, I can hardly imagine a broadcaster backing up a semi to the loading dock, taking a forklift to load it with racks of equipment and hauling it away. How do you see these remote workflows playing out?

ZL: Yeah, there’s going to be no spending on unloading all of that hardware anytime soon. That’s something else that came out of the survey. There’s still some hesitancy around going all in on the cloud. 

However, it was clear that cloud workflows are going to be adopted and that respondents saw value in utilizing the cloud. So, I would say what we’re seeing is broadcast studios are not letting go of their on-premises hardware infrastructure, but they are making use of the public cloud to help with the transition. 

What does that mean? Being able to expand your user base to provide more hardware on demand. The cloud is great for that. You can do that in an instant. You don’t have to go and source equipment and build up your infrastructure. What we are finding is it is less of replace your own hardware with the cloud. It’s more of an augment strategy. 

Another piece of the puzzle is accessing higher performance or specialty hardware in the cloud. That’s fantastic if you don’t have a specific machine with a GPU that you need. It’s available in the cloud because the cloud vendors are constantly updating their GPU environments.

One more thing we are seeing is if you have a global user base—a trend that the pandemic is driving, you may be able to provide a cloud desktop to global users in a more secure fashion than perhaps shipping out hardware or having to set up shop in another country or remote location within a country. That’s where we see cloud really sticking with this industry.

TVTech: It seems that a few years ago when the cloud became a viable option for broadcasters there was a great deal of hesitancy in its adoption out of concerns over security. The demands the pandemic placed on media workflows seem to have erased that hesitancy. I was wondering if the recent ransomware attacks we’ve seen in the broader economy is rekindling concerns among broadcasters about placing their valuable assets in the cloud. Or perhaps not.

ZL: It definitely has. I mean if we look at the survey, I think that security came out as the top factor to consider when deploying remote workstations. That’s not surprising given the ransomware attacks, but also the sensitive IP [intellectual property] that this industry touches and creates and deals with. 

That's actually interesting, because when you talk about the old days of the cloud and there were concerns of it not being secure. But, you know, today, all of our data is in a cloud of some sort. We all use SaaS [software as a service] apps, and all of the robust ones will follow a proper security mechanism, right, using 2FA [two-factor authentication], using encryption.

I think there's a better understanding today that cloud does not mean insecure. Cloud means secure. In fact, when you're talking about the broadcast industry, you've got offsite workers everywhere. People in the field, people in remote offices, and it's absolutely more secure to access your data remotely through a secure cloud environment than it is on a local machine. So, I wasn't surprised to see that [the survey finding that security ranks among the top factors to consider before using the cloud]. But I certainly think that that's something that's common across many industries as well.

TVTech: What flagship examples of remoting into the cloud or workstations back at the broadcast facility come to mind that underscore the value of this workflow during COVID-19?

ZL: We touch broadcast as well as VFX and animation, [and support] the leading applications from Adobe, Maya from Autodesk and Avid. They’re being used across these areas quite a bit. We really work closely with those ISVs [independent software vendors] to make sure that all the specific requirements of remoting a video workflow are where they need to be to ensure a smooth video experience.

More information is available on the Teradici website