IBC – Ruhel Ali, Business Development Partner.
It’s been a few weeks since IBC in sunny Amsterdam. Was it hot! But what a great event it was this year. I haven’t been for a few years and was hoping to see some new things. I wasn’t disappointed – from the new 3D/VR/immersive cameras to the slick TV UIs (of particular interest to me, having worked on a few).
But the big surprise was the step change in migration to the cloud. It seems like all parts of the production process are now engaging with the cloud. I’ve seen some great prototypes of IP-based workflows in the past – not least from BBC R&D – but it’s first time I’ve seen at first hand some serious commercial products in the market.
That might seem surprising given the number of years these technologies have been around, but I guess the broadcast industry is no early adopter.
However, even broadcasters don’t want to spend money on resources they will rarely use. That’s one of the reasons why they have gradually sold off their OB vans. Why buy it and watch it sit idle, when you can rent it just for the days you need it?
The same thing is happening along the length of the production and broadcast chain. The message is that you no longer need to invest huge amounts of cash on resourcing up to your peak volumes. Buy in resource for everyday needs but rent when you need additional resources and turn them off when you don’t. But cloud is not just about scale it also mitigates against lock-in. No longer does a broadcaster gain benefit from committing to a single supplier. The cloud makes it much more easy to mix and match and get the best supplier for the task at hand.
Sentiment is also changing on security – a key anxiety which has been holding back adoption. In fact companies are now seeing security as a plus for cloud. Whilst cloud might not seem so secure, as the servers are not physically present, they are maintained to very high standards in very secure environments. No cloud provider can allow their platform to be seen as insecure so they have a vested interested in using the most up-to-date security protocols and practices, with large, highly skilled teams dedicated to maintaining trust. This just isn’t possible if you have a small team running the servers on-premise where creating content or broadcasting are the top priorities.
Geo-location and legal jurisdiction have also been seen as key negatives for the cloud. But the spread of cloud data centres around the world now provides users in far-flung locations with faster access to their content and resilience, so that too is now becoming a positive.
Here at M2A Media we’re on the right side of history – we are fully cloud based. The key benefit of the cloud for us isn’t that chores like server hosting and resilience are taken care of by someone else – it’s the scalability and flexibility. Our CEO Marina Kalkanis did a great talk on this at IBC – here’s a link to her talk: Marina Kalkanis @ IBC
Internet firms have given a lead to the broadcast sector on this. Silicon start-ups have long been using cloud to get into the market at low entry cost, knowing that if their business takes off, their technology can keep pace. Now it looks like broadcasters are taking a leaf out of the start-up playbook and look set to reap the same rewards.