Adopting a hybrid cloud approach enables media management systems to manage the flow of content more efficiently, ensuring only the right content is sent to the cloud at the right point in its lifecycle.
Media asset management (MAM) is a necessary tool for finding and transferring media materials around or between facilities, but it does not always have the best reputation for delivering value for money. As content becomes stored in the cloud and access enables remote collaborative workflows as well as pay-as-you-go business models, the fundamentals of asset management are being reassessed. For modern MAM systems operating within the newly diversified media landscape, one size does not fit all. In addition, with the demand to process more video content and deliver it to more channels, the cloud has become a key enabler. The question then arises, which type of cloud to choose?
The cloud is hands down one of the leading causes for change. It provides an increasing list of advantages, such as, making it easy to collaborate with colleagues in different locations across the globe. Using the cloud also means that users can share media files with customers or other partners external to the company in ways more accessible, and secure, than ever before. Cloud deployments also mean users can move much of the infrastructure complexity to the cloud, as well as allow for extreme elasticity and scalability. Despite these advances, there is still certain hesitation from those who believe the cloud cannot provide the security that they and their data need.
The Hybrid Approach
Rather than moving everything into the cloud, some companies are instead adopting a hybrid cloud approach. Hybrid cloud gives providers the best of both worlds. This move toward hybrid cloud means that media management systems need to manage the flow of content even more efficiently, ensuring only the right content is sent to the cloud at the right point in its lifecycle.
In this architecture, high-resolution content is kept at customer facilities, lowering the need and cost of owning a big storage space in the cloud, and in the cloud itself only the low-resolution proxy files are kept to allow for content management and workflow process
Hybrid workflow puts storage on-premise with a private cloud network to share content. Users can search, log, edit, and play proxies in a web browser from anywhere in the world. The private network ensures content is secure, allowing users to upload and download sensitive content remotely and cost efficiently. Unlike the cloud, users can work on content without the need for an Internet connection. In every case, cloud should be thought of as a series of servers hosted off-premises in a data center. Practically every business involved in transporting and manipulating video has a different use case for how they want to use this infrastructure. Typically, when a business demands the usage of cloud, they look for the opportunity to open up their production workflows and assets to people outside the facility so that users can access content anywhere.
What Works in Cloud?
Pure cloud scenarios working well are for companies whose primary business is media orchestration, logging, organizing, transcoding, translation, and versioning being performed efficiently on low-resolution or proxy versions off-site. Disaster recovery, backing up, and archiving can also be achieved resourcefully by offloading data centers. For productions that need to occasionally spin up and down infrastructure as demand dictates, the costs of cloud can be potentially attractive. These extra resources can be allocated on a per project basis. As technology evolves in our industry, so will management tools that automatically enable this extra commuting power based on workflow rules defined by the user and the type of content. Media asset management systems have to evolve in this area in order to manage content more efficiently. Furthermore, if users are hosting the final assets in the cloud, the economics of cloud becomes stronger because all the transcoding, repurposing, hosting, and final distribution can be co-located in the cloud, minimizing transfer times and costs.
Media-management platforms need to be as flexible as possible to deal with a range of different cloud and hybrid cloud scenarios. For some, it may be a question of deploying fully in the open or private cloud, for others it may be fully on-premise and every combination in-between. There are a number of dimensions where the cloud provides some unique capabilities to an MAM project.
Elastic resourcing. The cloud can be used to help the environment scale on demand. A good example would be when content is quickly needed to be transcoded or processed. If the assets are available in the cloud, processing jobs can be initiated on demand and scaled up, and then down again as required.
Content analysis. Using new machine learning and content analysis technologies in the cloud enables search and content discovery of archives with limited metadata to be discoverable in production timescales.
Simple to deploy. MAM systems in the cloud can be very easy to implement, using template deployment methods.
Flexible and Scalable
Video producers are as varied as snowflakes, each being unique in what they look for in their media management platform. It is not surprising, therefore, that there is a need for solutions to be as flexible and scalable as they possibly can. New technology is having a huge impact on MAM systems and desired functionality. For example, most MAM systems are not yet prepared for handling VR content as well as other new types of media assets.
No matter the setup of media, there are integral needs which will always need addressing, such as storing and moving assets and handling metadata. Therefore, it is increasingly important for customers to be able to extend that core platform. For some, integration with a specific storage infrastructure may be important, for others it may be less about integrated storage and more about having integrated editing tools, or adjusting the supported workflows. Being able to offer this freedom and flexibility is integral and as the market continues to grow it could be the deciding factor for a lot of services.
In order to mitigate the price and workflow limitations of current cloud offerings, hybrid solutions are recommended. It is the norm today for media productions to involve multiple collaborators, so sharing content on a daily basis needs to happen securely and cost-effectively without regard for facility boundaries or country borders.
There is no doubt that down the line, entire production workflows both online and offline will be best enabled by software running on virtual machines in a data center. But, particularly given opposing forces at work in video production at this time, it will not make sense in most cases to relocate entire operations to the cloud and to rely on that as a production hub. With a hybrid solution, creative teams can cooperate and share media without limits.
It is very different from the era of big broadcasters with large volumes of content – all being distributed to the same channel, in the same format, and in the same way.
This new status quo requires flexibility above all else. Enough to suit the big broadcaster delivering hundreds of pieces of content across the globe to the small company using video to reach its customers, and everything in-between, and with so many different formats and channels, the traditional MAM systems either need to adapt or face the same fate as the dinosaurs before them.