Digital transformation has become the norm in the Media and Entertainment (M&E) industry, as end-users switch to on-demand digitized content across multiple devices. Subsequently, organizations have revised their approach to content creation, production and delivery by providing personalized customer experiences. To cope with evolving omni-channel customer expectations, companies are being forced to rethink their business delivery models to accommodate growing volumes of multi-format data, while ensuring cost efficiency, speed and security.
While technology has long played a crucial role in the industry, it involved sizable capital expenditure (capex) on software and in-house hardware. However, cloud technology enables M&E firms to effectively cater to customer’s dynamic requirements, simplify production workflows, re-imagine distribution and handle vagaries in data load. Though it can be called to have moved beyond infancy, cloud adoption is still maturing, and is a rapidly growing trend, within the broadcast industry seeking cloud solutions for virtual production, content transformation and distribution of content.
But why aim for the Cloud?
Conventionally, the entertainment industry invested heavily on depreciating physical IT assets and underpowered software that couldn’t support high capacity. With the emergence of cloud solutions, the M&E industry can minimize costs by shifting from capex to operating expenses (opex) model. Furthermore, since customers expect UHD and HD videos, streaming and other content innovations, organizations are forced to address sufficient data storage, uninterrupted data flow, security and flexibility, with cloud solutions to meet these demand, while keeping costs in control.
Moreover, given the shortening timelines for ingest to playout workflows, both linear and over-the-top (OTT) broadcasters have to ensure high delivery speed, to gain competitive edge and satisfy customers that consume varied content on multiple devices like smartphones, tablets and gaming consoles. With cloud computing, firms can create rich content delivery models that are compatible with a wide spectrum of platforms. Reputed to be slow and expensive, production workflow is also gaining traction in the cloud sphere. To gain access to collaborative, state-of-the-art environments, production houses are adopting cost-effective, cloud-based workflows that enable creative, quality content production.
Also, security is more reliable on the cloud, since large providers monitor security on a continuous basis. Equipped with tools to automate the management of rights, transactions and duplicate files, the cloud offers multiple data security measures. To allay existing data safety concerns, cloud providers are offering more security features, including superior authentication and secured APIs. These proactive steps taken to secure the cloud, explain why the trust in cloud platforms has increased by 76 percent across industries in last couple of years.
Commencing the journey to the Cloud
Since most companies have already made sizable investments in technology infrastructure and custom applications, adopting workflows need to be based on robust strategy that includes prevailing technology and cloud solutions. Common concerns include identifying a suitable cloud – private, public or hybrid, invested capex and renew cycles, potential risk factors, content security, migration strategy and lock-in period. The entertainment industry is likely to drive the demand for hybrid architecture-based software that can accommodate distributed workflows and lower Total Cost of Ownership (TCO), by enabling content ownership on local assets, while workflow applications run on the cloud.
First, M&E enterprises need to analyze their prevailing products and custom applications, in terms of fitment, integration, adaptability, with the cloud workflow and the digital landscape. Migration should involve robust workflow strategies, as merely exporting existing libraries to the cloud may be infeasible or expensive or even counter-productive, negating potential cost benefits. Also, companies need to opt for cloud migration, cloud native development, substitution with cloud product or application, or third-party SaaS integration. Moreover, firms have to assess applications across the various stages of workflow – Storage, Transcoding, Auto QC, Packaging, Encryption, File Transfer, secondary workflows and distribution.
Similarly, overall strategy should include requirements from in-premise assets since companies often prefer to retain some content in-house on existing infrastructure, for security reasons or for leveraging invested capex. Firms should adopt a hybrid approach for improved productivity and cost efficiency. Moreover, a holistic approach to the supply chain, organizations can enable synchronized workflows that deliver scalability, speed, reliability and cost efficiency. By following this strategy, companies can maximize the use of existing assets for vital, uniform workflows, and shift to the cloud, when faced with volume fluctuations.
With traditional broadcasting losing sheen and on-demand content becoming the new norm, M&E companies can’t escape cloud platforms and benefit from agility, flexibility and cost efficiency. Since adoption has been slow on the uptake due to security concerns, cloud technology firms have begun to implement several measures against data vulnerability. While many media companies have already commenced on their journey of taking their media workflows to cloud, there are few media companies who have taken the lead and have already started reaping benefits of cloud-based media workflows for both linear and non-linear businesses.
These media companies were helped on their cloud journey by technology partners, who leveraged their strong cloud capability and cloud adoption experiences, with other industries to deliver results to these companies. Other media companies can leverage the expertise of these technology partners for building an actionable Cloud Strategy and for an End-to-End Implementation & Integration of platform that supports the customized media workflow needs of the company.
Business Benefits of Cloud workflows
- Accelerated speed-to-market and delivery cycle
- Scalability to handle spiked in workload
- Lower TCO (Total Cost of Ownership), using hybrid architecture and pay-per-use