The Cloud itself is fairly simple, but for broadcasters it can be difficult to leverage. It isnt technically complex but broadcast still overlaps requirements that need real time, high resolution and quick turnaround solutions. Plus, this is coupled with the need to connect with dispersed geographic locations, reduce costs and access multi-format assets. As a result, broadcasters have moved away from asking the basic question what can I do in the cloud? to trialling projects and implementations are now underway or under evaluation.
The existing broadcast infrastructure has worked well for so long that it usually takes a new challenge to push broadcasters into this new Cloud space. Customers with multiple sites are looking to build integrated workflows where content is shared across the various locations. Projects with temporary workflows or remote production also require broadcasters to connect distant locations back to headquarters and there is a general need to manage costs by reducing infrastructure. Finally, there is an urge to stay current with technology as the rate of change increases and these factors drive customers to consider the cloud. In an ideal world all services a broadcaster needs would be available in the Cloud and content creation would be simple with accessible storage, asset management and creative tools. However, in reality not every part of the workflow is available in the Cloud and broadcasters often rely on solutions that are built in-house. As customers with new requirements enter the industry, advanced tools will need to be considered and the Cloud will become one of the options that a company has to look at. With that new questions will start being asked such as: is there a Cloud based option or do we have to upgrade what we have? Is the Cloud based option more cost effective? Can the new solution integrate with my existing workflow? Is it safe and secure? It is at this point where experienced Cloud-based integrators need to provide the answers, with migration plans and the confidence to give their customers a clear understanding of the benefits.
At each step of the content creation process, there are opportunities to integrate with the Cloud but these opportunities depend on the specific requirements of the workflow. If a broadcaster has lots of live content to ingest, then moving the high-resolution content to the Cloud will be a challenge. If a broadcasters deliverable is OTT, then serving content from the Cloud is much more viable. Ultimately, the success of Cloud-based systems will depend on it being the right solution for the problem at hand.
Review and approval processes were among the first Cloud-based solutions to enter the market. We have seen a steady progression from these initial steps to customers who are looking to manage long term storage, transcoding, streaming and disaster recovery in the Cloud. All of these solutions have something in common they supplement and expand the complete workflow requirements that a customer might have and they integrate with existing solutions of a facility to extend reach. The companies that might be first in line to transition completely to the Cloud are most likely to be organisations that rely on file-based workflows and deliver content via OTT or streaming. Companies where real time ingest and playout are not core to the delivery of content, will rely on efficiencies that could be delivered in a virtualised Cloud-based solution.