Speed and flexibility are more important than ever when it comes to live media production. The media industry is transforming fast with 5G, AR and VR technologies—not to mention the metaverse—changing how live events are produced and consumed. New, immersive, and personalized viewing experiences are not nice ‘add-ons’ but standard requirements that consumers expect on their connected TVs or at the edge of their fingertips.
Second screens are becoming as important as primary broadcasts to capture eyeballs and enable content monetization. This means more content needs to be captured from live events and delivered in formats that boost audience engagement. In other words, live content needs to be produced from everywhere and delivered anywhere to ensure it brings the most value to media organizations.
Over the past two years, media companies have been turning to cloud workflows to level up their live production and benefit from flexibility, on-demand scalability, production streamlining, and cost efficiencies. The cloud revolution is reshaping the media industry. To harness its benefits, media companies need to look at their media infrastructure holistically and ensure they move to the cloud confidently and on their terms while reaping the benefits of interoperability. Here’s what they need to consider.
Demystifying cloud transition
Cloud offers an appealing proposition for managing, transporting, and delivering content. However, radically shifting workflows and production models requires strategizing and preparation to ensure all the critical parameters are accounted for:
- Harnessing cost-efficiency now and in the future
The cost of cloud transformation is the most highly-debated parameter. Like with any investment, transitioning to the cloud has a financial impact but there are ways for media organizations to work around this. To minimize costs and benefit from the economics of the cloud, media organizations need the right cloud-based delivery solution that is open and compatible with any cloud provider and to hybrid models.
Hybrid cloud models leveraging own servers and data centers for linear and 24/7 services are still the most cost-effective, while open cloud is unprecedented for occasional use, batch works and provide a seamless end-to-end workflow from ingest to delivery, An open and interoperable cloud solution enables media companies to continue to leverage their existing infrastructure lowering CAPEX and creating cost efficiencies that last in the medium and long-term.
- Bringing security to the forefront
When shifting to the cloud, securing content when getting into and out of the cloud and maintaining control inside the cloud is fundamental. Media trust boundaries are critical for securing different IP domains. Cloud security requires reliable tracking and monitoring workflow capabilities that deliver visibility and risk management. One new important part of improving security and flexibility in any IP media workflows is the IP media trust boundary being standardized within SMPTE.
- Equipping the organization with the right talent
Ensuring that a media organization has the right skillset to manage and sustain cloud transformation is a critical success factor. Often, an organization’s talent pool knows is experienced in on-prem equipment management but moving to Dockers, K8s, certificates, REST API, auto-scaling, real-time dashboards, and IP configuration of virtual private networks in data centers is new and unchartered territory.
Attracting cloud-literate talent and/or training cloud professionals, same on the media-specific requirements and strict SLAs for time-critical applications take time and investment. Media organizations need to have the right cloud talent strategy to ensure they are ready for their cloud transformation journey.
- Quality, availability, and scalability
Media companies moving to the cloud expect 24/7 availability and redundancy. They require resilient, high-quality workflows for critical content that can be scaled as and when required. The right cloud production solution should enable broadcasting industry players to deploy bespoke workflows that can be tailored for individual live events.
It also enables them to transition from CAPEX to OPEX by scaling capacity up and down depending on demand and only paying for the resources they need when they need them. This flexibility is increasingly valuable when it comes to, for example, major events where there is a short peak of usage. A transparent, pay-as-you-go pricing structure enables media companies to reduce costs by only adding technology as needed, managing investments over time.
Harnessing the interoperability benefits
True interoperability is a critical requirement for cloud native software running on virtualized machines across standardized networks. Cloud technology enables media companies to design workflows integrating best of breed tools and services. By employing a virtualized IP infrastructure, they can detach the physical equipment from the production workflow and largely automate the process. This allows the seamless equipment sharing between both live and file-based production.
This level of openness can be achieved with cloud agnostic tools that enable media companies to break free from vendor lock-in. Cloud solution components should be based on core standards like ST 2110 and be able to work with a range of standard professional media over IP protocols from SRT to RIST. To deliver on the interoperability promise, they should be able to integrate seamlessly with third party vendor technologies provided these tools are also orchestrated for IP.
Leading the cloud revolution
Cloud workflows drive innovation and transformation in the media industry. New cloud-powered live production models like remote and distributed production are shaking up the dynamics of the media landscape, replacing traditional on-site, hardware-intensive workflows. Likewise, satellite contribution and primary distribution is increasingly being moved to IP and cloud workflows. The benefits of these new workflows are multi-faceted.
Cloud technology is a paradigm shift in the media industry that can bring industry players unparalleled benefits. The right cloud infrastructure enables media organizations to transition to the cloud seamlessly and on their terms. They can increase efficiencies and minimize costs by leveraging open and interoperable solutions that allow them to leverage existing investments. Media companies that opt for open and interoperable cloud solutions that enable them to maximize their existing investments are primed for success.
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Per Lindgren is CTO and Co-founder of Net Insight