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Three Considerations for Cloud-based Media

(Image credit: Object Matrix)

The move to cloud in the media & entertainment industry has seen many organizations reap the benefits of its flexibility and convenience. However, in the rush to establish these workflows, organizations could potentially be working with inefficient, expensive, and poorly secured systems. So, what should media businesses be considering when establishing or reviewing their cloud-based approach?

1. Your Own User Requirements
Rather than opting for a “one size fits all” approach and having to adjust your own processes, it’s important to establish your requirements and how you wish to use the cloud within your workflow. Choosing between public, private and hybrid cloud offerings can seem confusing, however, as they each have clear advantages which will suit some use cases more than others. 

Your cloud service needs to be able to integrate with your production tools and you need to be sure that your cloud system has the correct APIs for your applications. It is also important that content can be found quickly and easily in order to streamline the production process. Media companies often have tens of thousands of files and manually searching content is not an efficient option. 

Metadata is a hugely important tool to keep track of and retrieve content effectively. By monetizing your archive and giving a new life to old content, you can maximize your return on investment. Your cloud provider should either provide this service or allow you to embed metadata using your own application. Most importantly, your cloud service should enhance your workflow—it certainly shouldn’t hinder it. 

2. Always Having Access to your Content
The cloud is hailed as an “access from anywhere” solution, but if you read the fine print this can often come at a significant cost. One of the largest concerns surrounding the cloud is the risk of surprise charges. Unlike business models that can easily store and forget about assets, the use of a media library tends to be a bit more dynamic. 

Footage can easily outlive its original use, especially in news, sports and production organizations, and it’s important to be able to leverage older clips when needed. A media library that needs to be analyzed from time to time with AI for image recognition, or metadata extraction should not be stored on a cloud which charges egress fees.

Storing content solely in the cloud means there is also a risk that downtime could prevent users from accessing it. Using a multi-cloud strategy that puts archive content across more than one cloud platform, helps build redundancy measures into workflows. 

One of the most successful multi-cloud approaches is to store content on an instant, self-service cloud solution as well as on a low-cost, deep archive platform. Then, if the primary media platform is unavailable, the user can retrieve content from the deep archive, accepting the inevitable egress cost of doing so. 

3. Strengthening Cybersecurity
In the last year, security breaches have increased significantly, as criminals exploit the shift to remote working and the security pitfalls associated with poor set-ups. According to Iomart, large scale data breaches were up 273% in Q1 of 20/21, reflecting the rapid shift to remote working. 

One of the main threats seen in 2020 was ransomware, in which hackers encrypt data and demand payment for access. Encryption of large media files could seem like a difficult challenge for cybercriminals, as we know that it would take days, or even weeks, to encrypt 1PB of a media library. However, hackers are becoming increasingly sophisticated, methods such as the encryption of the file system metadata indexer and the encryption of parts of files can be enough to make whole chunks of media inaccessible. 

Media companies need to prioritize security as breaches can be costly. Highly sought-after commercial content has been targeted in the past, with production companies forced to pay large sums of money to retrieve their own media from hackers. Immutability is a great way of preventing the editing and deletion of content and is therefore an important defense against ransomware. 

However, immutability isn’t perfect. If the servers running the file system can be hacked, immutability is virtually no defense at all as it can be overridden. Cloud solutions need to be independently firewalled and should support immutability across all access points. Businesses cannot always assume that the cloud services being provided to them have the appropriate levels of protection. It’s critical that media organizations are asking their cloud providers for detailed information regarding the measures in place. 

A year ago, a multi-cloud or hybrid-cloud system may have seemed overwhelming to businesses who had just made the switch to cloud, however confidence in this technology is growing. Media organizations need to look at the bigger picture to build sophisticated ecosystems that promote creativity and efficiency, whilst also delivering cybersecurity and redundancy for business continuity.

Nicholas Pearce is Co-founder and Chief Revenue Officer for Object Matrix