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Multi-Cloud – The Next Evolution of Cloud Services for Media

Multi-Cloud – The Next Evolution of Cloud Services for Media

The DPP recently gathered a group of industry experts to define the characteristics required for a ‘media-cloud’. They described a highly portable, scalable and interoperable ‘multi-cloud’ tailored for media as the way forward:

“the ability to stitch together small functions and features of different clouds into applications; choosing the best tooling from each cloud offering”

‘Building the Media Cloud’ DPP Report, 6th June 2018.

‘Cloud’ is such a broad term, encompassing a whole variety of remotely hosted services, from IaaS (Infrastructure-as-a-Service), PaaS (Platform-as-a-Service) and SaaS (Software-as-a-Service) consumption models through to hybrid, private and public cloud implementations. AWS, IBM, Microsoft and Google (to name a few) have done a fantastic job in delivering highly scalable IaaS and PaaS solutions that have defined what most people interpret to be the ‘cloud’. It is far more than that though, and the beneficial features and implementation methodology varies depending upon your needs and your unique media workflow use case.

Private Cloud

Private cloud data centres allow you to host your kit offsite to free up space in expensive-to-rent media hub office spaces like London’s Soho, NYC and LA, while improving security, redundancy and collaboration between locations. Office space is designed for people to work and data centres are designed for IT kit, and both have very different requirements. In an office, it is hard to limit physical access to your building to protect your IT kit without impairing your staff’s ability to get to their desk. In most cases, it is also highly unlikely to be able to get two different power providers and multiple power generators in your office. This is easy and included in the private cloud and offers the chance for better ‘availability’ so you can always access your assets and systems to get your content to the consumer, even in the event of some significant power outages.

While these are great benefits, you now have a new problem that your content and systems are over there and you are over here!

Hybrid Cloud

In a hybrid cloud model, part of your infrastructure is hosted offsite in the cloud and part onsite. This way, you can still perform tasks needing low latency, like video editing, while also achieving some of the benefits of the cloud. In the past, media companies have only taken this approach for ‘Disaster Recovery’, with most infrastructure still on-premises and only backup storage and systems offsite, however now the reverse is becoming true. In fact, with solutions like those from BeBop Technology, your onsite footprint can be tiny, as you can run your desktop apps and even remotely edit in your favourite post-production software without any onsite storage or computers!

Public Cloud

In both on-premises and private cloud approaches, you are responsible for investing in and supporting the kit. The public cloud takes this all another step further, and actually provides the storage and server infrastructure for rent on a ‘Pay-As-You-Go’ basis. Instead of long and expensive kit procurement lead times, you can provision new solutions in minutes and for a few dollars. There are many IT articles citing the generic benefits of the cloud (although they typically mean the ‘public’ cloud) such as ‘flexibility’, ‘scalability’ – but what does this mean for media?

Our needs as media businesses evolves rapidly. One of our base customers was commissioned for a number of projects at once and their solution needs changed and throughput increased by 300% within a month! Within hours they were able to use different solutions to meet the new needs. Also, one of our public cloud-based encoder solutions features an automated broker that can ‘spin up’ thousands of machines in seconds to cope with the additional throughput, without any need for manual intervention. On-premises, it is not possible to change solutions or increase capacity that quickly. I do not envy the CTOs that must accurately predict their business requirements for the next 5 years and bet their entire new infrastructure budget on it!

Cloud Challenges

The cloud is typically provided as an ‘Infrastructure-as-a-Service’ only, so it does not include the expertise as to how to deploy your solutions there. If you were simply to deploy your apps in the cloud in the same way as you do on-premise, you might find that it just ends up costing you more without achieving all of the potential benefits, which is why cost-comparisons are often misleading. Public cloud costs are based on usage, which can make them difficult to predict as businesses come to realise they are not so familiar with exactly how much time and storage are needed for each project. Solutions are often only available on one of the Cloud Service Providers (CSPs); with egress costs to move assets between CSPs, it can be limiting and impractical to have all your assets with a single public cloud vendor.

In addition, many of our industry’s media applications and video bitrates sometimes require certain types of ‘filesystem’, latency or guaranteed storage performance for continuous playback. One customer we work with needed to edit 16bit 4K TIFF sequences at 24fps across many different edit suites. This scenario needed over 80Gb/s of throughput, which may not be possible to achieve in the public cloud but can be catered for by combining private cloud storage, peered with public cloud compute.

What is multi-cloud? This is a combination of them all – taking the best bits from multiple private and public cloud providers and best of breed media software solutions, provided as one seamless managed service to the end users.

This approach allows us to deliver all of the features beneficial to media companies, while negating some of the factors that just do not work for our clients’ workflows. For example, you can have the guaranteed storage latency and performance required by editing, the scalability to handle peak project workloads and lower business risk with better ‘availability’, ‘redundancy’ and ‘resiliency’ to ensure that you can deliver great content on time and for a predictable cost.

Next Steps

If you would like to learn more about the cloud, the IABM will shortly be publishing my short course on the cloud, entitled: ‘The Cloud: A Comprehensive Overview for Technologists and Business People’.

If you would like to find out more about our multi-cloud solutions, why not visit us at IBC 2019, Hall 7, Stand B25 or check out this interview video with myself and base Founder & Managing Direct, Ben Foakes.

Please find link here.