Outlook 2020: Preparing for a fully cloud-enabled future
Michael Cioni
Issue: November/December 2019

Outlook 2020: Preparing for a fully cloud-enabled future

If you asked someone five years ago about using the cloud for business, the biggest concern you’d probably hear had less to do with bandwidth limitations and more to do with security. But since 2015, cloud technologies have matured so much so that in another five years content creators will rely exclusively on the cloud— largely because of security!

Today, we all know that cloud-based media has become the most important component in global distribution and exhibition. This reliance on the cloud will only expand over the next five years, from the exhibition space into the acquisition space, and eventually include everything in between. The result will be a titanic change to all forms of workflow.

In order to capitalize on this change, it is imperative for companies to begin establishing a cloud familiarity plan as well as a strategic approach for total cloud reliance. Here are a few concepts you can explore to begin generating your own unique path to the cloud.

Understanding where you already use the cloud

There is one cloud-based collaboration tool that every professional uses above all others — email. Most professionals have at least three email addresses, which enables us to leverage total virtualization of correspondence, basic sorting, fundamental contact management, primitive media asset management, general calendar management, and elemental searching.

Today’s electronic mail arena makes use of data that is in alignment with today’s average available bandwidth. But because high fidelity video assets are larger and at a greater risk of suffering from bandwidth challenges, most of today’s cloud video tools that deal with high quality video are generally limited to distribution channels. However, even with the limitations of today’s global bandwidth, video-centric cloud tools are beginning to efficiently handle higher quality assets that are easily categorized, cataloged, and compressed, like music and photos.

Today, billions of people rely on the cloud for music, social media, personal media archives, home entertainment, travel, personal banking, and many more every day. Consumer tech giants like Apple, Microsoft, and Google have already integrated larger forms of consumer cloud reliance throughout their integrated computer backup plans and shared libraries. So it helps to breed confidence that, in some areas, we are already completely reliant on secure, robust, and functional cloud-based technology at all times.

Identifying areas to expand cloud usage

The second most common way companies are leveraging the cloud is through data analytics. There is still a fairly steep learning curve in applying data analytics for many organizations, but the foundations are in place with readily available cloud tools and CRMs. These tools are helping to automate and organize data through lead tracking, content adoption, employee productivity, market segmentation, rendering, remote review, and cross-pollination between sales, growth and marketing forces.

Additionally, infrastructure as a service (IaaS) solutions like Amazon Web Services (AWS) and Microsoft Azure provide scalable, off-premises resources for companies to efficiently expand their IT and data infrastructure as they organically grow their businesses. Platform as a service (PaaS) solutions like SalesForce and Google App Engine allow developers to rapidly build customized tools that serve their businesses by leveraging readily available frameworks.

Familiarity with IaaS and PaaS opportunities will become critical to scaling your team to be more efficient, as interpreting and implementing components of big data will become crucial to everyday project planning by 2025.

Learning how to factor file sizes and external storage costs into a cloud roadmap

One of the greatest financial advantages we will experience by 2025 is the exponential increase in computational performance of off-premises hardware. Today’s companies rely almost totally on local storage and processing power, which will always carry limitations and costs for routine maintenance, available space, power/cooling, network management and consistent upgrades.

But off-premises cloud computing drastically reduces these costs while simultaneously improving performance, scalability and productivity. Because IaaS groups are scaled across tens of millions of users, the per-user-cost of performing many tasks may require only a fraction of the overhead cost compared to installing and maintaining the same infrastructure on-prem.

The key differentiator between virtual computation and storage in the cloud compared to on-prem equivalents is throttling. Throttling allows for dynamic control of hardware based on the task(s) required. For example, performance throttling allows users to deploy additional render blades instantaneously to increase speed of complex VFX. Playback throttling allows users to remotely playback unlimited streams of video at any resolution anywhere in the world while balancing the load across more computational and network resources.

Edit throttling will soon allow users to dynamically increase the size and scale of production edit storage with little to no investment in active storage area network overhead. We already see the beginnings of this on IaaS and PaaS solutions with archive throttling, where users can decide if they want more active hot storage ($10.00 per terabyte) versus long term cold storage ($1.00 per terabyte). Ultimately, this will reduce the need for up-front investments in SANs and LTO robots.

Hiring asset management and archiving leads onto your team

There are countless improvements and advancements that cloud technologies will bring to the media and entertainment industry. But perhaps the best investment companies can make today is to hire employees that have an active interest in leveraging what the cloud will eventually offer to every department. It would be a mistake to perceive the migration to the cloud as “a new form of digital.” In actuality, the impact of the cloud is going to be just as disruptive as digital was to analog.

We’ve already seen a near-cataclysmic shift in how distribution has been completely transformed by companies that structured their business around cloud technologies. Over the next five years, the same principles that impacted cloud-based exhibition will filter throughout every hand within the image chain of custody. The companies that draft (or even pioneer) cloud-based technology in their businesses by hiring the right people today will dramatically increase their chances to thrive in a world where virtualized data becomes the MVP of every business. 

Michael Cioni is global SVP of innovation at Frame.io (frame.io), the provided of cloud-based collaboration solutions.