Outlook: Smart strategies for maximizing cloud value
Mac Moore
Issue: November/December 2023

Outlook: Smart strategies for maximizing cloud value

Cloud computing touches nearly every facet of modern life. In the world of content creation, it’s no longer a matter of if studios use the cloud, but rather how they use it. Making the most of cloud resources requires a smart approach tailored to unique pipeline needs. While there’s no single right way to leverage the cloud, adopting a few best practices for 2024 can ensure you’re on the right track
Assess resources and actual needs

Cloud-based workflows offer access to dynamic scalability, but studios often reserve instances with their cloud provider based on a max capacity, effectively creating an insurance policy. Like any resource, cloud compute is finite, and by committing to a projected spend, studios can gain – in theory – advantageous pricing and guaranteed availability. However, when studios overcommit, they’re wasting budget. The same is true for overprovisioning. Using an appropriately spec’ed machine is more cost efficient and helps artists work more smoothly.
Consider storage efficiencies

How and where data is stored matters significantly when optimizing cloud costs. Historically, storage solutions were either inexpensive or high performance, but those lines are starting to blur with technological advancements. For example, overlay solutions are giving studios high-performance access to low-cost storage. They provide a way to emulate a file system in object storage and accelerate throughput, offering the best of both worlds.
Diversify your compute

Implementing a multi-cloud approach can help mitigate a lot of the capacity challenges we saw this year by enabling studios to pivot to another cloud provider and burst at a moment’s notice. Studios can have their pipeline team create direct integrations with each cloud provider and then make adjustments as to which resources to tap based on availability and demand. There are also turnkey solutions, like Conductor cloud rendering service, that allow studios to spin up similar multi-cloud deployments without the hands-on requirements. As the industry continues trending toward interoperability and open standards, adopting a multi-cloud should become easier with less technical barriers.
Opt for replication

One of the most expensive aspects of cloud computing that often goes unaccounted for is the egress penalty. Most cloud providers charge a fee for moving data between their own regions and between different providers. Even a few cents can quickly add up considering massive visual effects and animation workloads. Avoiding these penalties effectively locks studios into one cloud provider or data center region. The simplest, most cost-efficient path involves using a cloud that doesn’t charge egress as a single source of truth for storage and syncing to it. Unfortunately, those options are extremely limited, at least for now, with CoreWeave as one of the only cloud providers that does not charge egress fees. Another approach to minimize the egress penalty would be to host replicated data in multiple sites, as replication costs are typically much less than egress fees. Many cloud providers offer global object storage that is intelligently localized upon access.  
Based on all indications, workflows will increasingly depend on cloud-based resources, which are becoming more accessible, performant and cost efficient with each advancement. Cloud technology also plays a key role in achieving the MovieLabs 2030 Vision for the evolution of media creation, and it’s clear that it will require cooperation, including across cloud providers. We’re headed towards a multi-cloud world, but until that’s realized, being smart about the solutions at your disposal can go a long way in helping you maximize your cloud value.

Mac Moore is Head of M&E at CoreWeave, a Roseland, NJ-based company that is building a next generation public cloud.