09 Sep 2019

Multi-Cloud – The Next Evolution of Cloud Services for Media

The DPP recently gathered a group of industry experts to define the characteristics required for a ‘media-cloud’. They described a highly portable, scalable and interoperable ‘multi-cloud’ tailored for media as the way forward:

“the ability to stitch together small functions and features of different clouds into applications; choosing the best tooling from each cloud offering”

‘Building the Media Cloud’ DPP Report, 6th June 2018.

‘Cloud’ is such a broad term, encompassing a whole variety of remotely hosted services, from IaaS (Infrastructure-as-a-Service), PaaS (Platform-as-a-Service) and SaaS (Software-as-a-Service) consumption models through to hybrid, private and public cloud implementations. AWS, IBM, Microsoft and Google (to name a few) have done a fantastic job in delivering highly scalable IaaS and PaaS solutions that have defined what most people interpret to be the ‘cloud’. It is far more than that though, and the beneficial features and implementation methodology varies depending upon your needs and your unique media workflow use case.

Private Cloud

Private cloud data centres allow you to host your kit offsite to free up space in expensive-to-rent media hub office spaces like London’s Soho, NYC and LA, while improving security, redundancy and collaboration between locations. Office space is designed for people to work and data centres are designed for IT kit, and both have very different requirements. In an office, it is hard to limit physical access to your building to protect your IT kit without impairing your staff’s ability to get to their desk. In most cases, it is also highly unlikely to be able to get two different power providers and multiple power generators in your office. This is easy and included in the private cloud and offers the chance for better ‘availability’ so you can always access your assets and systems to get your content to the consumer, even in the event of some significant power outages.

While these are great benefits, you now have a new problem that your content and systems are over there and you are over here!

Hybrid Cloud

In a hybrid cloud model, part of your infrastructure is hosted offsite in the cloud and part onsite. This way, you can still perform tasks needing low latency, like video editing, while also achieving some of the benefits of the cloud. In the past, media companies have only taken this approach for ‘Disaster Recovery’, with most infrastructure still on-premises and only backup storage and systems offsite, however now the reverse is becoming true. In fact, with solutions like those from BeBop Technology, your onsite footprint can be tiny, as you can run your desktop apps and even remotely edit in your favourite post-production software without any onsite storage or computers!

Public Cloud

In both on-premises and private cloud approaches, you are responsible for investing in and supporting the kit. The public cloud takes this all another step further, and actually provides the storage and server infrastructure for rent on a ‘Pay-As-You-Go’ basis. Instead of long and expensive kit procurement lead times, you can provision new solutions in minutes and for a few dollars. There are many IT articles citing the generic benefits of the cloud (although they typically mean the ‘public’ cloud) such as ‘flexibility’, ‘scalability’ – but what does this mean for media?

Our needs as media businesses evolves rapidly. One of our BASE Media Cloud customers was commissioned for a number of projects at once and their solution needs changed and throughput increased by 300% within a month! Within hours they were able to use different solutions to meet the new needs. Also, one of our public cloud-based encoder solutions features an automated broker that can ‘spin up’ thousands of machines in seconds to cope with the additional throughput, without any need for manual intervention. On-premises, it is not possible to change solutions or increase capacity that quickly. I do not envy the CTOs that must accurately predict their business requirements for the next 5 years and bet their entire new infrastructure budget on it!

Cloud Challenges

The cloud is typically provided as an ‘Infrastructure-as-a-Service’ only, so it does not include the expertise as to how to deploy your solutions there. If you were simply to deploy your apps in the cloud in the same way as you do on-premise, you might find that it just ends up costing you more without achieving all of the potential benefits, which is why cost-comparisons are often misleading. Public cloud costs are based on usage, which can make them difficult to predict as businesses come to realise they are not so familiar with exactly how much time and storage are needed for each project. Solutions are often only available on one of the Cloud Service Providers (CSPs); with egress costs to move assets between CSPs, it can be limiting and impractical to have all your assets with a single public cloud vendor.

In addition, many of our industry’s media applications and video bitrates sometimes require certain types of ‘filesystem’, latency or guaranteed storage performance for continuous playback. One customer we work with needed to edit 16bit 4K TIFF sequences at 24fps across many different edit suites. This scenario needed over 80Gb/s of throughput, which may not be possible to achieve in the public cloud but can be catered for by combining private cloud storage, peered with public cloud compute.

We believe the answer for the media sector is a ‘Multi-Cloud’ based architecture.

Diagram shows BASE Media Cloud’s innovative multi-cloud architecture.

What is multi-cloud? This is a combination of them all – taking the best bits from multiple private and public cloud providers and best of breed media software solutions, provided as one seamless managed service to the end users.

This approach allows us to deliver all of the features beneficial to media companies, while negating some of the factors that just do not work for our clients’ workflows. For example, you can have the guaranteed storage latency and performance required by editing, the scalability to handle peak project workloads and lower business risk with better ‘availability’, ‘redundancy’ and ‘resiliency’ to ensure that you can deliver great content on time and for a predictable cost.

Next Steps

If you would like to learn more about the cloud, the IABM will shortly be publishing my short course on the cloud, entitled: ‘The Cloud: A Comprehensive Overview for Technologists and Business People’.

If you would like to find out more about our multi-cloud solutions, why not visit us at IBC 2019, Hall 7Stand B25 or check out this interview video with myself and BASE Media Cloud Founder & Managing Direct, Ben Foakes.

Please find link here.

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10 Jul 2019

Green Rock Revolutionise Post Production Workflow with BASE Media Cloud

Green Rock Revolutionise Post Production Workflow with BASE Media Cloud

Executive Summary
Green Rock is a specialist production and post-production agency, creating premium branded content and broadcast television for prestigious clients including BBC, NetFlix, NatWest, FIFA and Sainsbury’s. Dealing with the explosive growth of online video content, Green Rock has re-invented the way it does business, by progressively moving its video production and post workflows to the cloud. Partnering with BASE Media Cloud in 2015, Green Rock started out with a simple, automated cloud backup service and has since expanded its use of BASE Media Cloud services across multiple applications, including File Transfer, Archive, Media Asset Management and most recently, remote editing with BeBop and Adobe.

“We have been growing so fast that traditional on-premise infrastructure simply does not fit our business model today. It’s essential for our company that we can scale our storage, processing and tools for users as we need to, without having to purchase additional hardware or rent additional buildings”,

comments Simon Green, CEO, Green Rock.

BASE Media Cloud Solution
Prior to migrating services to BASE Media Cloud, Green Rock relied on purchasing, managing and supporting large amounts of expensive hardware at its central London post production facilities, using up valuable real-estate, which should have been better monetised as chargeable creative suites. Managing in-house storage and backup hardware also consumed large amounts of power, cooling and staff time to maintain and did not provide any off-site redundancy. As Green Rock’s data volumes continued to grow, the cloud provided a more forward-thinking technical approach for the company.

“We work in a very collaborative way with our clients, so having local files is not scalable. By using BASE, we know all our media and project files are safely backed up, but they can be securely accessed by us and shared with our clients, at the click of a button. BASE don’t charge us for Egress fees like other public cloud providers, so it makes it far more affordable and practical – and we share these savings to our clients”

confirms Simon Green.

Results, ROI and FuturePlans

Green Rock are directly benefitting from having moved away from a reliance on physical hardware and expensive premises, by tapping in to the multi-cloud architecture behind the BASE Media Cloud platform. The unique design of BASE Media Cloud means clients can pick and choose their chosen software applications, across any cloud, including AWS, Google Cloud, IBM Cloud and more, whilst directly connecting the tools to their centrally hosted cloud storage account. As the media industry continues to migrate to digital workflows and content is produced predominantly for online streaming services such as Youtube, Netflix and Apple, Green Rock are rightly preparing their business for the next phase of purely online, remote working, on a flexible pay as-you-go basis.

“Traditional TV is changing, and we believe brands are the new broadcasters. The demand for content is going to scale radically, so you have to be prepared to a more agile way of working. For us, it made sense moving everything to the cloud”

concludes Simon Green.
Download PDF version click here.

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30 Jan 2019

iconik and Base Media Cloud Partner for Easy Media Collaborations

BASE Media Cloud and iconik Partner for Easy Media Collaborations

BASE Media Cloud and iconik Media® Partner to Deliver Integrated Cloud Services for Little Dot Studios

We’re excited to share that we’ve partnered with BASE Media Cloud to integrate iconik, our cloud video hub, into BASE Media Cloud’s managed cloud services platform. The integration will enable the organisation and easy collaboration of media content throughout the production, post-production and delivery workflow. 

BASE Media Cloud delivers globally-available cloud services for digital media companies of all sizes, enabling them to securely store, process, edit, and distribute media online. The managed services mean media companies, with little-to-no in-house engineering resources, can benefit from the power and cost-savings of the cloud, whilst increasing the security and flexibility of their media file operations.

The integration of iconik with the BASE Media Cloud platform makes it easy for BASE Media Cloud clients to ‘plug in’ cloud services to their existing post production infrastructure. They also benefit from opportunities to share and collaborate with global stakeholders and manage multi-Petabyte media archives with one easy-to-use cloud-based interface.

 iconik is a hybrid video hub for managing, sharing, and collaborating on media. We designed it to keep media assets secure and organized, while ensuring global access. Using a hybrid architecture, assets can be stored in the cloud, on-premises, or as a mixture of the two, while enabling access to the entire library. It includes a powerful API making customization and integration with other tools simple.

 

Both company founders are excited about how this partnership will make media collaboration easier for their clients.

“We have had huge demand from clients wanting an easy-to-use post-production, collaboration and archive MAM, seamlessly integrated with Adobe and our unique, zero egress cost BASE Media Cloud storage and file transfer services. The BASE and iconik teams have developed a joint solution which gives access to cutting-edge tech for users and companies of all sizes, available out-of-the-box, with minimal cost. We are very excited about working together and we are already rolling out multiple iconik accounts for our global clients.” – Ben Foakes, Founder & Managing Director, BASE Media Cloud
“Media companies are increasingly understanding the value of the cloud across the entire media workflow. BASE is enabling flexibility with tailored cloud solutions that meet the fast-changing needs of the digital media industry. It is great that iconik is able to complement that.” – Parham Azimi, CEO, iconik Media

iconik has already been deployed by BASE Media Cloud as part of an implementation for Little Dot Studios. They are a digital content studio and broadcaster specializing in production of original and brand funded content, distribution and monetization of video content across all social platforms. 

“The combination of the BASE Media Cloud storage, file transfer and transcoding services, integrated with iconik provides a platform fit for growth, and avoids heavy allocation of time and resource on constant re-assessment of internal hardware solutions and processes. This frees up capital that can then be focused on creative work and content distribution i.e. services our clients in turn value.” – Kevin Gibbons, CFO, Little Dot Studios
To find out more read here.
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20 Mar 2018

Driving Cloud Innovation with Formula E

BASE Media Cloud and Veritone drive cloud media access for Formula E

Joint cloud solution lets Formula E and its production partners upload, store, search, play, and deliver a broad range of media content instantly and seamlessly

BASE Media Cloud and Veritone, a leading provider of cloud-native video management and licensing services, have combined their cloud-based services to give Formula E a breakthrough solution for making its media content instantly accessible to its production partners and broadcasters, both during and after international live race events.

“In our quest to reinvent racing with a new formula for the 21st century, and to position Formula E as the most innovative rights owner in the sports landscape, we choose to work with the industry’s top technical partners,” said Ali Russell, Director of Media and New Business at Formula E. “The combination of Veritone and BASE Media Cloud, with their joint expertise in sports production and postproduction, is a perfect fit for us. Their experience of live event services and global broadcast distribution through Digital Media Hub provides Formula E with the perfect platform to provide instant access to our high-value content to our partners all over the world.”

The ABB FIA Formula E Championship is the electric street racing series and the world’s first fully-electric international single-seater category in motorsport. Both Formula E and its host broadcast and digital production partners will use the Wazee Digital/BASE Media Cloud solution to upload, store, search, play, and deliver a broad range of media content seamlessly, including live race footage, program information, highlight programs and packages, video news releases, press material, promotional material, magazine shows, and archive content. Secure access will be provided to global media recipients, including domestic and international broadcasters, teams, sponsors and event promotors.

The solution incorporates BASE Media Cloud’s proven IBM Cloud Object Storage and IBM Aspera platform, integrated seamlessly with a new, fully branded Wazee Digital Media Hub SaaS portal from Wazee Digital, to enable secure search, viewing, and syndication of Formula E’s media assets – all from one easy-to-use, elegant Formula E-branded web interface. The joint design allows flexible, modular services to be added in the future as Formula E’s requirements grow. As a 100 percent cloud-based offering, the solution provides a best-of-breed and highly resilient infrastructure, all-inclusive upgrades, and a dedicated U.K. support team.

“The collaboration between Wazee Digital and BASE Media Cloud gives Formula E the best of both worlds – Wazee Digital’s fully integrated Amazon Web Services computing; sophisticated asset management workflows; and a self-branded, web-based access portal through Digital Media Hub; paired with BASE Media Cloud’s cost-effective and regionalized virtual-private-cloud storage, delivery, and cloud postproduction services,” said David Candler, senior director, customer solutions for the U.K. and Europe at Wazee Digital. “Now Formula E has an affordable means of delivering its massive amount of content from an easy-to-use, easy-to-expand portal that everyone will recognize as Formula E’s.”

“By leveraging managed cloud services, customers are seeing huge cost savings compared with more traditional, physical management of content. BASE Media Cloud has provided cloud storage and award-winning Aspera delivery services for Formula E since 2015. We recently partnered with Wazee Digital to enhance the overall service offering by seamlessly integrating Wazee Digital’s front-end application interface – Digital Media Hub – with the existing back-end services,” said Ben Foakes, managing director, BASE Media Cloud. “Together we have worked closely with both Formula E and its host broadcast production partner, Aurora Media Worldwide, to understand existing and future requirements and to provide a robust SaaS solution that will grow with the business.”

Digital Media Hub is a powerful, centralized, cloud-based solution that allows video content to be captured and made immediately available for global access, publishing, and syndication. Through Digital Media Hub’s elegant user interface, customers can acquire, enhance, and distribute media gleaned from production, postproduction, and live-event environments.

BASE Media Cloud provides a collection of cutting-edge cloud storage and media software tools – such as cloud storage, file transfer, transcoding, and BeBop cloud editing – for meeting the increasing challenges brought about by the rising volumes of media files being acquired, processed, and delivered throughout the media-production process.

More information about the ABB FIA Formula E Championship is available at http://www.FIAFormulaE.com

Read more here.

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19 May 2017

The cloud will kill half of us… and save the rest

With 85% of media and broadcast industry buyers planning to deploy cloud technology within the next three years – according to the latest IABM End-User Survey – the pressure is on vendors and technology suppliers to embrace cloud and as-a-service solutions and business models.

If vendors ignore cloud, or make a half-hearted attempt at it, they risk giving up an increasing slice of their market to a new generation of nimble cloud-native providers. But making the transition to a true cloud model is fraught with dangers – and the risk of a massive cashflow black hole.

Learning from some of the emerging cloud specialists, there are five simple lessons that all vendors can use as they adopt a new way of supplying and charging for their products. These approaches will help maximise the chances of success and reduce the chance of catastrophic failure.

Lift and Shift

Beware the vendor who claims to have a cloud solution by simply taking their existing on-premise product and hosting it in a public cloud environment like Amazon Web Services (AWS). The giveaway phrase is often “private cloud”. A true cloud strategy must embrace many parts of the business.

Technology: solutions should be designed to benefit from cloud architecture – for example the ability to scale up or down as needed, support for a multi-region deployment or multi-tenant operation, or the use of existing cloud services like AWS Lambda – no need to build everything from scratch. Running a regular application in a reserved AWS instance not only misses most of the benefits of cloud, but is likely to be financially crippling. The days of highly-customised solutions may be over as multiple customers share the same environment.

Sales: can the vendor move from a fixed-cost solution to a charging model that scales up and down? Is there a free tier? A vendor who is serious about cloud must incentivise sales people to sell it over the traditional products. Sales compensation can be tricky when there is no big up-front sales revenue, or where pay-as-you-go pricing means the total price to the customer is not known up front. A higher-volume, lower-cost “inside sales” model may be more appropriate, and there is a need to invest in customer success managers to drive usage and renewals.

Security: vendors become responsible for handling their customers’ most valuable content and data. Every aspect of physical and logical security needs careful review, with tightly-managed operational procedures. Cloud customers expect to see evidence of this, and may demand external audits and certification such as the ISO 27001 information security standard.

Revenue: the biggest challenge of all is making the transition from an up-front high-value charging model to a recurring revenue model. In the long run, the recurring revenue leads to a much more stable, more valuable business. But getting there can leave a seven-year black hole in the cashflow. This becomes clear with a worked example.

Acme Inc. is a small vendor which has traditionally sold $100k solutions, with 20% support on top, and has steady sales of six deals per year, mostly in the third and fourth quarter. The cashflow shown in the blue line in the diagram is healthy, and covers the cost of running the business, developing the technology and paying the sales people.

Figure1

Figure 1: The Cashflow Black Hole When Moving to a Cloud Charging Model

If Acme’s customers demand a cloud model and the company switches to a software-as-a-service (SaaS) charging at $5000 per month at the start of year two, the revenue that year dives from $770k to just $200k – even including the ongoing support revenues from before. It is not until into year five that the run rate of SaaS revenues finally rises above the old model. That leaves a $850k shortfall – a black hole in the accounts that isn’t cleared until year seven.

This is a simplified model – it assumes no SaaS customers cancel, it ignores the significant costs to Acme of actually running the cloud services, and it overlooks the fact that a “real” cloud model would have less predictable usage-based pricing.

Acme’s management needs to have a plan to manage this cashflow black hole for as long as ten years—through financing, understanding investors or aggressive increases in sales.

More than AWS

Aligning with just one public cloud vendor is unlikely to lead to the best technological or commercial solution. Many media and broadcast customers also demand more flexibility – particularly with hybrid cloud solutions that blend on-premise workloads with cloud services.

One innovative approach is being used by Base Media Cloud, a UK-based provider with its own cloud content management solution, and a model for making other vendors’ products available in the cloud to end users.

Base MC manages a core private cloud data centre in the UK, enabling them to operate much more cost effectively than consuming public cloud for the base service. But the company is now building direct-connects to many of the public cloud providers to tap into the services and capabilities provided there.

This strategy avoids lock-in to any one public cloud provider. The best cloud solutions can pick and mix, and move house whenever the cost model or technology capabilities demand.

Figure2

Figure 2: Base Media Cloud’s Hub-and-Spoke Multi-Cloud Approach

Solving problems

It is all too easy for media businesses and vendors to put off a move to cloud-based services by focusing on the potential barriers. Complaints may include the high cost of bandwidth or “egress fees” for retrieving content from cloud storage. The perceived risk of on-demand pricing. Or supposed technical issues such as the performance of cloud object storage or cloud video editing.

Hiding behind these type of problems is missing the point. There is a huge opportunity here and now for innovative vendors able to solve these, and many other, problems that might otherwise prevent broadcasters and media companies unlocking the huge benefits of cloud. These new competitors are gaining valuable intellectual property and a competitive advantage in the process. With 85% of buyers wanting cloud solutions, there is a profitable business in helping them do it.

Compelling economics

Many “cloud objections” are financial. Some customers and vendors feel cloud can be expensive, even more expensive than on-premise. In a lift-and-and-shift of an on-premise application into AWS, paying for a fixed reserved instance to meet hypothetical peak demand, then indeed it is highly likely that the resulting costs will be too high.

However, many organisations are not evaluating the full costs of running on-premise technology when comparing cloud costs. It is crucial to build a return-on-investment model that captures all of the costs involved. For on-premise, this should include the cost of software, support, servers, databases, operating systems, network infrastructure, monitoring, floor space, power, cooling, staff, backups, maintenance, patches, upgrades, hardware refresh, redundancy. The list goes on.

For example, in archive storage, the base cost of Amazon Glacier is now exactly comparable to LTO6 media, at 0.4 cents per Gigabyte. Some may argue that this shows LTO is just as cost effective as Glacier and will highlight Amazon’s egress charges. But this risks ignoring the full cost of running an on-premise archive – the robotic library, drives, floorspace, power, maintenance, refresh cycles, etc.

Those egress charges can be reduced through proper cloud solution design. If the content is pulled back to S3 storage in the same AWS region – because that is where the rest of the content supply chain services happen – data transfer is free. The retrieval cost is then just 0.25 cents per GB for the archive retrieval, less than 25 cents for a two-hour HD movie.

Figure3

Figure 3: Evaluating the Real Cost of Cloud Means Looking Beyond Headline Numbers

Making cloud economics work is another opportunity for innovative solutions. For example, Sundog Media Toolkit, a post-production cloud platform, runs its own internal “spot instances” to allocate the lowest-cost computing resources to post-production rendering jobs without the risk of a public-cloud spot instance disappearing mid-job. Prime Focus Technologies’ CLEARTM Operations Cloud Optimizer automatically calculates when to transcode in AWS at lowest possible cost.

Start now

The new generation of innovative cloud-native vendors share three final tips for success.

First, cloud strategy needs complete commitment across all parts of the business, led by the CEO. They should not claim to have a cloud strategy without knowing how to fill the finance black hole, or where they are still compensating field sales for bringing home traditional deals.

Second, start now. Set up a skunkworks – there will be people in the organisation who are eager to work on cloud. Develop native cloud solutions, technology and business models. Be innovative, and become one of the new generation of vendors who makes cloud work for broadcast.

Third, if in doubt, get help. Many of the cloud-native companies mentioned here are also in the business of making cloud work for other vendors. They can put the right finance, integration, implementation and services wrapper around existing products and services to make them ready for an on-demand cloud technology and commercial model.

Robert Ambrose discussed cloud during a session at NAB 2017. 

Please find the original here.

By Robert Ambrose 

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