OPEN MIKE FROM TIM BURTON

Five Questions About Cloud Migration

As broadcasters consider a long-term shift to remote workflows, here are five key questions to tackle to guide decisionmaking.

Due to the restrictions enforced by the pandemic, organizations are facing unparalleled changes in workflow practices. New innovations have given rise to more platforms and distribution methods than ever before and this creates challenges for broadcasting teams.

A one-size fits all approach to using the cloud, is never going to meet the individual needs of multiple broadcasters with varying infrastructures and team set-ups. It requires a comprehensive service-led approach to deliver the most efficient and cost-effective process.

With organizations considering long-term remote workflows, here are five key questions to help identify the best approach for different needs:

  1. How do you compare remote offerings? — There are three main approaches:
  • Bring the content to the individual. The user’s machine remains unchanged with content or proxy versions sent directly to them, similar to accessing and editing files on Adobe Creative Cloud.
  • Stream a pixel representation of the entire user-interface directly to the individual. A user logs-in to a cloud-based workspace that mimics their normal set-up with the bulk of the processing managed by an on-premises data center.
  • Use a web-edit tool, offering an online-hosted, editing app which can be used from an individual’s browser. This requires your team to learn new editing tools and shift to a different workflow.
  1. Which route is right for me? — This will depend on which of the following categories best fits the majority of your broadcasting content development:
  • Fast Turnaround Workflows — Browser-based edit tools are best if your focus is quick turnaround, high-volume content. Options such as Blackbird offer efficient media production via the cloud, with very low demands on bandwidth. To deliver large volumes of content remotely, you’ll need a solution which incorporates a degree of automation and AI functionality, such as Wotchit. Adobe Rush has powerful tools to enable cross-collaboration, as well as delivering natively to Facebook and Instagram.
  • Long-form Workflows — Storage will be a key consideration for long-form workflows with large amounts of data. Hybrid systems offer a combination of on-prem storage and cloud-based proxy access to accommodate big volumes.
  • The other major consideration is the edit tools to which your team are already committed. Can you afford to migrate that workflow? If not, consider enabling remote access to your existing infrastructure. If your team is dedicated to particular tools, this will make the transition to working from home seamless.
  • Compliance Workflows — If ingest content is being delivered to you via the internet already but you still need advanced tools for parts of the production process, this approach ensures secure cloud-hosting for editing, while utilizing a remote-access hardware infrastructure for final output. This means users can still access advanced tools for delivering final files such as IMF or AS11.
  1. What action can we take today? — Navigating the range of solutions on the market, can be particularly challenging during a crisis, so there are two key areas to focus on:
  • Identify your organization’s particular way of working so you can develop a customized solution around your criteria. There might be certain tools that are vital and others which have an equally efficient or better alternative.
  • If cloud-based working seems like a viable route, then start uploading content as soon as possible so you don’t risk not having the time to migrate it. You can do this either by utilizing your existing internet link, or by ordering an AWS snowball — an edge computing, data migration, and edge storage device – to transfer petabyte-scale data in bulk.
  1. What are the ‘gotchas’ to look out for? — Given our current situation and multiple people using bandwidth in the same household, the pressure on domestic ISPs is immense. This means you need to consider how any potential solution would work with one-fourth of your normal bandwidth.
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Don’t assume that cloud-based options offer limitless infrastructure. Graphics Processing Unit (GPU)-backed processing might become constrained. Look at changes that can be made before you commit to a process and make sure you are spread across multiple availability zone services within a region. It’s also worth considering a build that works without a GPU, to future-proof your solution.

  1. What are the likely long-term changes? — The broadcast industry has been evolving for some time, responding to the limitations of its legacy infrastructure and the growing need for quick turnarounds and 24/7 consumption. However, it has been lagging behind compared to other industries that are much more cloud-ready. There is one key reason behind this: in an industry that is permanently “on,” time is always a factor. Recent events have forced a fundamental shift. Broadcasters have experienced that in addition to enabling business continuity, remote workflows create a more flexible working environment for broadcasting teams and that this change is entirely manageable.
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After all, it is unlikely that we will return to business as usual in the aftermath of this pandemic.

Tim Burton is managing director of 7fivefive.

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