Broadcast News

Bookmark and Share
31/10/2012

Cloud Computing – The Hype, The Problems, The Dangers And The Doubts

No media cloud on the immediate horizon: George Jarrett talks to industry contacts about the problems that have to be resolved before broadcasters and post houses will trust the cloud
Back in the 1960’s I used to smoke Passing Cloud cigarettes. I also sang along to ‘Get off of My Cloud’ by the Rolling Stones, and both of those memories dominated a flippant approach to the cloud.
But all of a sudden we have wall-to-wall conferences, and dozens of vendors inviting you to hold their hand as you step nervously out onto Cumulus Nimbus, perhaps buoyed by some experience of using Google Docs. It is time to take the cloud seriously, but first we have to identify the thorny technological and green issues that still have to be addressed, and to identify some of the best connections for seeking ongoing help.
One of the very best is the EBU, which is staging Out of the Cloud, into the Light (November 20-21).
The first interview features one of the main figures behind the production of this important event, and later in the piece, the DTG unveils its approach to the cloud. Like HD when it emerged, cloud computing has a lot of formations to come.
Chris Chambers of BBC Future Media/EBU - Head of Media Network Integration Laboratory, R&D South
Some people are desperate for a business case, and are trying to sell existing technology under a new buzz banner. Does he agree?
“Yes; so desperate that they ignore a number of fundamental issues when trying to utilize existing technology and current workflows, and are endangering any real value,” he said.
Surely people with uncompressed files will balk at paying for the bandwidth costs both ways, and for the CPU and the storage on top. “A big yes,” said Chambers. “It is not just uncompressed media which is a particular issue for us, but ‘big data’ in general. Cloud solutions are hyped often as a stand alone solution that will "solve all your problems" without even addressing the need to bolster the infrastructure and the potentially very significant cost this will bring to any workable outcomes.
“The communities addressing cloud are not thinking holistically enough about what they are doing, and where cloud will bring benefits overall,” he added. “We are looking at using an open source dashboard, - we are currently studying Open Stack - and then requiring any potential cloud products to use that as a basic API even if they produce a proprietary management interface too. “We must be able to specify best practice and have some common deployment and management points otherwise it will be chaos and virtually impossible to manage particularly in large organisations,” he added. “Unless of cause it all comes from a single source; but then the resulting business risks could be massive.”
The biggest issue for broadcasters going for the cloud is finding the right business model surely? “Yes. However, the problem is that making great media is not like making baked bean tins. There is more than one way of supporting the creative processes of producing media and while few if any, with the possible exception of the film industry, could afford an unrestricted approach to media creation, there needs to be a range of options to allow people to work in varied ways and be creative,” said Chambers. “Also, depending on each remit and topography, broadcasters will quite likely need slightly differing business models, and the workflows they support. There is not a single answer so we all need to understand our business and workflow requirements and understand that if we restrict how our people work, we will end of with "baked bean tin" content, just with a different label.”
Cloud could fall foul of carbon taxes if governments examine its green credentials. “Until we improve the efficiency of network transport protocols, particularly at 40G and above, find a drastically different approach to storage structures, and have a service demand management structure that goes from the protonic layer to the service API, cloud will fall foul of any green credentials,” said Chambers. “Moving interactive media with an ever-expanding quality and feature profile on IT networks, storage and broadband is several orders of magnitude more inefficient in energy terms than more traditional models of delivery,” he added. “If we are going to deliver the future without using several cities worth of energy, we have very serious work to do!”
Bruce Devlin, CTO of Amberfin
“In ten years’ time everything will be cloud based. Now there are only two companies using Amberfin technology in the cloud, so I am looking at business models so we can remain successful and not be a fall guy,” he said. “The problem is that there is an enormous amount of marketing concerning cloud computing. It could be the best thing or the worst thing for you.
“Imagine you are a small or medium-sized media owner with diverse sets of customers trying to get at your content. The sensible thing is to put it with Amazon, run the distribution software in the cloud, and rely on the Amazon background to do all the delivery,” he added. “Because it is not a massive archive, it is not a heavy cost. And your customers are paying you on a transactional basis. You would pay Amazon on a transactions based deal for the CPU, the network bandwidth, and the storage. You could calculate what each transaction would return and so cloud would make business sense to you.
“But it makes no sense at all presently to the top tier broadcaster or filmmaker, because they have absolute paranoia about the security of their uncompressed files,” he continued. “And then there is the cost of getting into the cloud: you pay the bandwidth costs both ways, and you pay for the CPU and your storage, so for most people in that area it makes more sense to keep the infrastructure in house. Downstream, cloud might make more sense.”
Then there is grinding the top off the peak – meaning peak demand prior to Christmas and the summer season.
“There is a sensible hybrid model – big enough internally to handle most demand, plus cloud capacity. Most broadcasters will end up doing this, just renting kit for the peaks,” said Devlin.
“But it is no good halving costs if it means taking a terrible risk,” he added. “The biggest issue for broadcasters going for the cloud is finding the right business model and making it work for everyone across five or six layers of corporate involvement.
“There are a gazillion cloud applications, but no best practise – not even a dashboard to view how well the cloud is performing,” he added. “Data centres do go down, and 99.99% reliability will not impress broadcasters.”
Solidmate Ltd Memory Card Hire London

Top Related Stories
Click here for the latest broadcast news stories.

03/02/2015
Quantum Integrates Cloud Into Multi-Tier Storage
Quantum has unveiled three new solutions to integrate the cloud into multi-tier, hybrid storage architectures for demanding data workloads. The new Q-
14/04/2014
Cloud Media Services: Adopting The Cloud And Making It Work
Richard Welsh, SMPTE International Governor and CEO at Sundog Media Toolkit, discusses the ever-evolving landscape of content-delivery. The biggest ap
31/05/2017
Big Pic Media To Exhibit At Media Production Show
Big Pic Media has announced it is to exhibit a wide range of tools for ingest, QC, transcode, encode and delivery on stand 510 at the Media Production
21/08/2017
IBC2017: At The Core Of Global Media And Digital Industry Trends
With its Digital Tech Hub, Qvest Media is encouraging the exchange of global trends between the media and broadcasting industry at this year's IBC Sho
08/04/2014
Harmonic Partners With Encoding.com
Harmonic has teamed up with Encoding.com, the world's largest video transcoding service, to offer a highly flexible, cloud-based transcoding service t
19/05/2009
Signiant Content Distribution Management Software Integrates With EMC Atmos
At this year's EMC World in Orlando, Florida, Signiant is demonstrating how its Enterprise Content Movement solution manages the movement of unstructu
26/06/2013
Success For IBC Technology Booster Event
Day one of the IBC Technology Booster offered a unique, interactive insight on 'Floating Cloud Concepts for New Business' to a sell-out audience of el
28/04/2017
New Era For VICE Media With Tata Communications
Tata Communications has announced it has been chosen by VICE Media to build a high-performance, completely cloud-based platform for global media asset
03/08/2012
Cinema Cloud Launches Global Service Powered by Aspera On Demand
Aspera, Inc., creators of next-generation technologies that move the world’s data at maximum speed, today announced that Cinema Cloud has deployed Asp
21/07/2016
Archive With Confidence In The Cloud
The cloud has been part of the media landscape for some time but there are many media companies and content owners that are still hesitant to store th
18/09/2017
Marquis Broadcast Transforms Its Business With Hybrid Cloud Production
The company aims to decouple people and operations from infrastructure and technical complexity. There's been a big shift in the industry recently, fr
11/09/2014
BT To Offer Sony Ci Products
UK telecoms company BT’s Media IP Nexus network is to offer Sony Media Cloud Services’ Ci products, following a collaboration between the two groups.
01/02/2016
ERA Expands Cloud Services With New Archive Solutions
At BVE 2016 ERA, have planned to highlight its portfolio of cloud services and unveil new hosted storage solutions for content management and long-ter
17/11/2016
An Affordable Media Archive
There is much talk about "the cloud" at the moment, without necessarily any real clarity about what it is, how to get it, and what the benefits are, a
13/10/2014
Forbidden, IBC2014 And The Cloud...
From my perspective, IBC2014 was one of the busiest IBCs ever, comparable to last year and with a palpable energy, writes Stephen Streater, CEO, Forbi