A cloud-based system makes it easy for operators to create their own distribution network. The broadcaster of the future will consist of operational control panels connected to the cloud, where all the audio and video processing takes place.
The market dynamics for broadcasting has changed. It has become a global business. Over the years broadcasting has also become very complex, and demanding high investments. Currently, broadcasters are driven by several challenges that not only affect their managing capabilities and ROI, but also disrupt their daily operations. Broadcast specialists are increasingly offering cloud-based solutions for production and management while in delivery broadcasters are turning to the large web-scale cloud players. In 2017, anecdotal and case study evidence is emerging that the broadcast sector is accelerating its adoption of cloud platforms as specific solutions provide increased choice.
There are two big trends. The first is the use of web scale suppliers such as Amazon Web Services and Microsoft for content hosting and delivery over IP. The second is moving content to the cloud for virtualized production and distribution in response to market dynamics on workflow, formats, cost, and customer demand.
In traditional enterprise IT, cloud accounts for around 20 percent of capacity and the trend is growing rapidly. And it appears that broadcast players are unlikely to behave differently from other markets. Some organizations will prefer a big bang approach to migration while others will take a multi-speed approach, choosing to adopt cloud on a workload-by-workload basis for business applications.
The cloud platform enables broadcasters to roll out their innovations to the marketplace. Through the cloud platform, broadcasters can easily introduce their services in months or weeks rather than years. It provides them quicker service delivery cycles in the highly competitive landscape. Broadcasters can manage their workload easily including a sudden surge in popularity of new devices or live event coverage. The cloud infrastructure is scalable and can be used to manage spikes in the workload. Cloud clients only have to pay for the usage.
Broadcasters and media houses source high-resolution content from across the globe from remote working teams. This can be easily managed over secured cloud networks. Broadcasters can have access to early versions of the content and suggest changes. Once the content is finalized it can be placed on a secured cloud, and broadcasters can access them from any of their facilities across the globe. This workflow streamlining ensures seamless flow of content across geographies, as well as simpler editing and discussions, as the content gets created.
Today, broadcasters are compelled to invest in rich content delivery services that are relevant to user devices right from smartphones to tablets. Cloud computing and storage allows them to create and test various super rich content delivery models that are compliant with various systems and operating devices.
With the proliferation of smart devices, and extending Internet bandwidth limits, broadcasters have a unique advantage of accessing their customers directly through OTT. Many broadcasters and media houses are launching their own portals or mobile applications to deliver their content directly to their customers. They can securely host their content on the cloud, as well as leverage benefits of OTT infrastructure that allows them to create video catalogues and distribute their content through web portals.
Production and Distribution
The cloud, in both its public and private versions, is being embraced as an end-to-end solution on the production as well as the distribution side today.
The cloud is now being widely adopted for media management, distribution, and storage; this has been a shift in recent years. Exactly how the cloud will fit into the media world is one that continues to be debated; just as the very term has become synonymous – often times erroneously – with anything related to off-site digital storage.
It is generally accepted that traditional production workflow is slow and expensive. Cloud as a platform for production workflows and for media asset management is now an accepted part of the infrastructure mix. But this shift to UHD and beyond will require bigger and bigger files to be moved around the network. Activity in production workflow already points to the discussion moving from consideration and assessment to being about adoption rates of solutions for production, post production, and management.
Public cloud is the next area to consider, industry is seeing a desire from customers to use the commercial and technical flexibility of the public cloud and is starting to run customer POCs with ICE SDC in such environments. Gartner research predicted the worldwide public cloud services market to grow 18 percent to a total of USD 246.8 billion, while cloud adoption strategies could influence more than 50 percent of ITO deals through 2020.
The private cloud is essentially a datacenter owned by the broadcaster with their own IT team managing the required services. It is resilient, it has virtualization, but to suggest it is scalable is stretching the truth a bit. It is scalable within the limits of the hardware available, which has probably been over specified to take into consideration the perceived increase in sales which results in high capital investment.
Public clouds are truly scalable, no matter how many virtual servers a user requires, there are always more available on a pay-as-you-go contract. If users run out of resource, then spin up another server. The winners of broadcast SaaS service providers will be those providers who have written cloud born software that can scale horizontally across multiple servers; in effect they have been programmed as parallel systems.
A cloud-based system makes it easy for operators to create their own distribution network. The broadcaster of the future will consist of operational control panels connected to the cloud, where all the audio and video processing takes place. The only time the program comes back to earth is for broadcast monitoring feeds, or the program delivered directly to the viewer.
The current crop of cloud offerings from the big web scale cloud providers specifically address questions around whether production houses, broadcasters, and streaming firms are willing to place their most precious assets in the public cloud.
Suppliers are keen to address advantages around flexibility, cloud bursting, pay per use, security, and are confident in their ability to address concerns on pricing, visibility, data location, data governance, and shared environments. The choice of going to the cloud provides a welcome alternative to sunk capital investment in rapidly depreciating physical IT assets and enterprise software obtained on a planned basis and which can then be either under-utilized or leave the user at risk of being left short of capacity at times of high demand.
But the cloud is not a panacea. As data-heavy production workflows move to the cloud it can mean chewing up vast amounts of storage, processing, and networking resources.
A pay-per-use cloud solution could present a major advantage as long as it is accompanied by transparency on pricing, service levels, and flexibility around scaling and performance.
Cloud is the business elixir, as it can be harnessed by organizations of any scale and size to drive outcomes like greater efficiencies, increased monetization, and lower total cost of operations .Cloud technology can allow business to scale up or down quickly owing to unique customer acquisition and engagement cycles. Extreme digitization on the back of cloud is the future, as this helps usher in never before seen efficiencies and a renewed focus on the creative product.
The vast array of new technology that is available today, in conjunction with cloud networks will make a huge difference to the ability of the broadcasters to provide entertainment and news to the mainstream. The embracing of that new technology will keep the broadcast industry moving forward and building a bright future.