In recent months, cloud-based workflows have proven to be invaluable. Many media and broadcast organizations would have struggled to operate during the pandemic without virtualizing at least some elements of their post production chain.
However, in some quarters there is still a reluctance to fully transition. Many companies feel that after months of disruption to content development, they cannot afford further upheaval. But this mindset doesn't account for one of the key benefits of transitioning to the cloud: Everything can be split into stages.
Major changes pose major challenges, and it’s natural that some broadcasters might be apprehensive — particularly when they’ve had to adapt quickly at the onset of the pandemic, with insufficient time to fully research their options.
For many, having achieved some sense of equilibrium, a repeat of the upheaval of the last two years is something to be avoided at all costs. If teams are producing content and editing successfully using existing workflows, why rock the boat? However, opting to simply make do with a partial transition is not sustainable. Just because it works in the here and now, does not mean that your infrastructure is future-proof.
One of the major benefits of moving to a hybrid model is that the transition can be phased. Whether the focus is on migrating valuable archives or integrating remote editors with on-premises infrastructure, disruption can be mitigated at every stage, with the continuity of post workflows maintained. It’s all a matter of proper planning and calling upon the relevant expertise. Equally, financial considerations, such as bandwidth and cloud-based resource utilization, can be allayed by integrating the right tools to track and manage usage.
Let’s look at the key components of moving to the cloud.
Be clear about your company’s particular needs and plan the transition accordingly to minimize disruption. First and foremost, you need to know that your assets are in the right place. Will a hybrid or multi-cloud approach to storage suit you better? What tools can you employ to easily transfer your data, avoiding high network costs and long waiting times? Can accessing proxy files remotely, while storing content on-prem, help to manage storage costs more effectively? A balance must be struck between ease of access and efficient use of resources.
Intuitive management is essential to maintaining efficient and practical workflows. Moving post production to a fully-remote model poses challenges in terms of accessing data. If your team is consumed with downloading the assets they need, they’re not creating new content. Virtual workstations and proxies can help, but they must be seamlessly integrated into workflows and the time spent remotely managing resources cannot become a chore. Remote editing dashboards allow consistent, accurate management of resources. This keeps the number of connected users in view at all times, along with data on which files they are accessing and how much bandwidth each editor is using.
Agility and cost effectiveness can go hand in hand, so it’s important to maintain control of your cloud usage. Upscale and downscale accordingly, making use of tools like workday scheduling and inactivity monitoring. Is a workstation currently in use? If not, shut it down. You can spin up another one quickly and efficiently when needed. Realtime bandwidth, resource utilization stats and control over file system quotas all help administrators to control the post system effectively.
Follow the data
Your media assets are valuable, so let them be your guide. Understanding your data is key to understanding what storage options you need. By opting for the correct solution tailored to the needs of post users, broadcasters can improve flexibility and efficiency, as well as reduce costs.
We’ve all heard about the pain points of egress fees, particularly for broadcasters with large archives. It’s true that media asset management is a major potential pitfall when moving to a cloud-based workflow, but once again, if you know your data, you can get ahead of this. Do you have a high volume of legacy content that doesn’t need to be accessed regularly? Or, do you need to be able to deal with regular fluctuations? These will necessitate different solutions. It may even turn out that you need to adopt more than one, to effectively manage nearline vs. deep archive storage.
One eye on the future
Evolution is a complex process and introducing new technology and workflows will invariably prove challenging. But if you call upon the necessary expertise and plan your transition carefully, the benefits are clear. The next generation technology that can facilitate this transition is within reach – it’s just a matter of effective integration.
Tim Burton is the Managing Director of 7fivefive (https://7fivefive.com), a consulting firm that offers technical, business and briadcast industry expertise.