Overcoming fear of the unknown

  • With Adrian Pennington

Overcoming fear of the unknown

Cloud migration simplifies the operational infrastructure for broadcasters, allowing them to shift focus to storytelling and content - by Adrian Pennington...

The worldwide end-user spend on public cloud services is forecast to hit $591.8 billion in 2023, up grow 20.7% YoY. Broadcasters are encouraged make the move as understanding of its ease of use and scalability increases. But while the adoption of cloud is ramping up, many broadcasters do express concerns.

Some of the these commonly perceived hurdles, highlighted by Swagat K. Mishra, Senior Product Manager, Muvi, are: 

Legacy Workflow, Tools, and Software: Migrating to the cloud doesn't mean 360-degree workflow migration. There will always be some sort of dependency on on-prem tools and solutions hosted by the broadcaster and the cloud infra that needs to work with this legacy software, tools, and solution that can pose a hurdle in the migration. 

Data Security & Piracy: Content streamed through cloud systems has more chances of getting pirated. Even though anti-piracy mechanisms like Multi-DRM Architecture, watermarking, screen recording block, VPN detection, etc. do a really good job, it doesn’t solve the problem completely. 

Expertise, Talent, and Training: The expertise from traditional broadcasting does not add much value to cloud-based broadcasting. Broadcasters will need to hire new talent, train existing employees, and may even have to lay off their experts. 

Dependence on third-party providers: Traditional broadcasters rely on third-party companies for various functions. So, if these third-party providers don’t support cloud-based systems, the migration becomes challenging for the broadcaster. 

Amortisation of hardware tools: Expensive and legacy hardware assets owned by broadcasters may become obsolete once they migrate to the cloud. Along with this so will the talent which needs to be reskilled to use the cloud-based workflow. 

Answering these issues, Muvi claims to function as the ‘one-stop shop’ for all things any broadcasting organisation needs to go ‘cloud first’, efficiently. Its flagship product is Muvi One  - an OTT platform service provider that allows users to create and launch their own white label multi-device enabled OTT streaming platform from content management to analytics, all controlled from a single CMS dashboard.  

Muvi Playout is a ‘panoptic’ broadcast software that allows customers to launch their live TV and audio channel. It also supports broadcasting pre-scheduled on-demand content sequentially in real-time over the internet. Users can schedule both on-demand content and live feeds on multiple linear channels using the firm’s advanced scheduler.  

Alan Repech, Director of Product Marketing, Telestream  Although there is now abundant evidence that most workflows can be operated efficiently and reliably in the cloud, we find that some organizations are still hesitant to go all-in with cloud-native workflows. 

For example, moving on-premise workflows to the cloud, of which storage is a part, can not only be a monumental technical challenge, but also potentially a costly multi-year project. Having a clearly defined need or requirement to begin with and then coming up with a plan are the ingredients necessary to overcome this hesitancy. Most often, cost savings and efficiency are the main drivers. 

For many media companies, it makes sense to build fully cloud-native workflows for content that is processed and distributed in the cloud. Therefore, migration is only part of the story given that OTT services can contain both content that has been migrated from archives and newly produced content. The outcome is there are workflows that are fully cloud-native, some that operate on-prem, and it’s possible that some are a combination of both. Working backward from the desired service and content distribution approach dictates which strategy is best.

To help customers embrace a cloud-based strategy, when it is the right approach for them, Telestream’s acquired Encoding.com, which brings the capabilities of the Telestream Media Framework (which have been driving Vantage media workflows for years) together with Encoding.com’s Emmy Award-winning cloud-native service. This combination of technologies means that critical media processing workflows, and more importantly, the algorithms and engines that drive them, can operate in the cloud without disruption and risk. 

Alain Pellen, Senior Market Manager OTT & IPTV at Harmonic
As an early adopter of cloud, we have witnessed of the migration to the cloud from the beginning.  When media companies were migrating to the cloud in the early days, there was resistance for all of the reasons you mentioned, plus security and availability concerns.

Today, it is different. Broadcasters and pay-TV operators have been using the cloud for streaming at scale for a few years. Most of the technical concerns are gone, including availability. You can deploy cloud SaaS platforms in a geo-redundant configuration to achieve equal or better availability compared with classic on-premises solutions. 

Moving to the cloud is a companywide decision. It makes little sense to move only part of the workflow, such as playout or statmux. When you move the complete end-to-end workflow to the cloud, that’s where the wins are, and you can thoroughly accelerate the time to market for new services.

In the case of Harmonic, one of our first SaaS customers was a pay-TV operator in the US that deployed the VOS360 cloud SaaS platform for streaming. Three years later, that same customer was the first to migrate satellite statmux workflows to the cloud. Since then, several have followed in their footsteps.

At IBC, we showed a live demo of broadcast playout and statmux running on our VOS360 cloud SaaS platform. With the platform you get a single SaaS for distributing content to streaming viewers, social media and FAST, satellite and terrestrial teleports, and affiliates. One clear benefit is a simplified infrastructure that’s easy to operate. You can launch new streaming or satellite channels in minutes instead of going through a lengthy procurement and building process, or upgrading a dedicated on-premises headend.

During the demo, a couple of the channels originated within the platform from file-based assets and live sources, which were scheduled by automation partners through our API. The playout outputs were then encoded and statmuxed with additional channels. VOS360 gives you the flexibility to add new temporary channels to a satellite lineup for coverage of live events for a few hours or a few days, without investing in ad-hoc hardware.

Peter Wharton, Chief Strategy Officer, TAG Video Systems 
Customers can run almost all their workflows to the cloud, obviously OTT, but playout is also running at scale in the cloud. Post-production workflows are also rapidly moving to the cloud as evidenced by the success of Blackbird and Adobe’s Frame.io. The last hurdle to overcome is live production, especially at scale.  

Esports companies have been doing production in the cloud for several years now, and advancements have been made recently that will enable traditional live production to accelerate this journey. JPEG XS is becoming the defacto standard for professional ground to cloud connections, offering the required sub-frame latency and contribution/mezzanine quality.  

To make the cloud truly suitable for live production, true end-to-end multi-vendor orchestration and automation from provisioning of connectivity to the entire production workflow is needed; only once such orchestration is available will the true benefits of cloud production be realised along with cost management that makes the cloud more attractive than traditional on-premises deployments. 

TAG has always been IP-only and cloud native, optimised to run on CPU-only instances to minimise cloud operating costs. We support all of the required protocols and formats for live production including CDI, JPEG XS, NDI, SRT and Zixi. Uniquely, TAG also supports all distribution and OTT formats enabling the same multiviewer to monitor the entire workflow from uncompressed camera feeds to encrypted OTT variants inside the CDNs.  

TAG supports a range of instance sizes that enable customers to optimize their cloud footprint to each part of the workflow, and OPEX and hourly license models that minimise TAG costs by matching them to the duration of the events being covered. Most recently we introduced our Bridge technology enabling TAG systems to economically scale over multiple locations to unlimited sizes with over 100 UHD sources per output, enabling distributed ground and cloud monitoring. 

Alain Nochimowski, CTO at Viaccess-Orca 
Dealing with hybridity is a key challenge facing the TV industry. We don’t envision all workloads will move to public cloud overnight. There are plenty of good reasons to leverage cloud, including increased flexibility, the pay-as-you-grow business model, and future-proof infrastructure. However, there’s also rationale for running certain processes in data centres. Some justifications include latency and capex amortisation.  

For example, if you’re dealing with working legacy platforms that have a “predictable” load, the public cloud may not be an immediate need with a clear business case. The bottom line is that there is no one-size-fits-all approach. Our TV service provider customers are asking us to help them benefit from cloud-native architectures (i.e., automatic scalability, DevOps) in a hybrid environment. 

We recently announced a new collaboration with Google Cloud to streamline TV and video service deployments and operations. Our solutions are now integrated with Google Cloud Anthos, allowing users to manage their data and applications in hybrid cloud environments, including on-premises, the public cloud, the private cloud, and multi-cloud.  

This collaboration allows us to address key TV service provider requirements. We see a growing demand for part of solutions to run  on-prem, while other parts to run on the public cloud (either AWS, Azure, or GCP). Therefore, we need to make sure that the control plane can manage this level of complexity. The Google Cloud Anthos stack helps significantly. 

In that regard, the integration of Viaccess-Orca’s solutions with Google Cloud Anthos is a quantum leap forward in streamlining the deployment and manageability of TV platforms. With Anthos, cloud-native applications can be deployed from anywhere. This enables TV and video services to be launched faster, implement continuous innovation, and realise better ROI. 

Chris Merrill, Director Product Marketing at Grass Valley  
The biggest challenge today in cloud adoption is fear of the unknown. Most of the concerns discussed today - latency, security, redundancy, etc. - already have workable solutions. As an industry, we’ve got to become familiar with these new solutions because cloud-based workflows in production is the future.  

As Moore’s law hits a wall, the next phase of high power processing will be driven by standard computational devices coordinated through software i.e. a cloud. It’s cheaper, more accessible, and easier to scale and maintain.    Integrating a cloud platform at the heart of an IP production center allows use of familiar workflows and existing equipment while at the same time using the flexibility of the cloud to spin up whatever additional capacity is needed: remote signal transmission with format conversion, a replay seat, or a second bench production switcher. A common platform is essential to this model. With apps all running from the same platform, its simple to spin up whatever function is required at the moment.  

Broadcasters can confidently move their workflows to the cloud today. It allows them to build systems that can scale to meet demand, are easier to maintain, and ultimately cost less. There are proven solutions for the perceived problems of latency, security and redundancy, and an open common platform ensures that cloud-based systems can work seamlessly with existing workflows.   

Designed to meet the requirements of broadcast production workflows, AMPP, the Agile Media Processing Platform from Grass Valley is a unique integration of hardware, software, and cloud-native services that is the foundation for creating and distributing live content more efficiently at lower costs. Running equally well on-prem or in a public or private cloud, AMPP is scalable. It can handle whatever size production you need with team members connecting to the system using an Internet browser.  

The platform’s modern microservices architecture manages the connection and routing of the infrastructure as well as provides an operating environment that meets the needs of live broadcast. Timing, redundancy, security, user identity, and all the other requirements for live media are built-in to the platform.   

All of the platform services are inherited by the applications that run on the platform. These applications cover all the traditional media workflows you may need: from camera shading and live production, to editing, asset management and playout. Because the AMPP platform is open to the industry, applications running on AMPP could be from Grass Valley or from other trusted vendors. Their integration with AMPP ensures that they all work seamlessly together.