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To cloud or not to cloud?

Day two of BVE 2017 was wrapped up by TVBEurope‘s very own panel discussion: ‘The future of storage: To cloud or not to cloud?’

The panel, chaired by MediaTech 360 speaker and Renegade Thinking founder Niall Duffy, looked to discuss the future of storage for broadcasters, dealing with cloud technology, the role of asset management and an expanding requirement for storage capacity due to ballooning file sizes and shooting ratios.

Duffy was joined by; Christo Conidaris, UK country manager, Quantum; Richard Sendall, infrastructure architect, ITV; Steve Sharman, director, Hackthorn; and Tim Burton, founder, Magenta.

Conidaris kicked off proceedings, stating: “The key evolution is that the technology needs to be easily transferable. But the biggest question is how we are going to manage it. Storage is, without a doubt, the most important part of your whole infrastructure.”

Sendall gave an insight into cloud migration at ITV: “Users need to ensure they’re implementing a well thought-out cloud workflow.

“At the moment, many companies – including ITV – have what we call a ‘data swamp’ where they’ve uploaded innumerable unsorted files to the cloud, and we’re now having to wade through it to cut the cost of the space we’re using.”

Burton analogised: “When it comes to the customer, I think it’s very much like plumbing. You don’t really care about the pipes – as long as it works, you’re happy, and the more instantaneous the hot water is, the better.

“We have very heavy data in the broadcast industry, and that makes it difficult because customers still – understandably – expect the same flexibility and performance as they would in other industries. We’re scrambling to adapt at the moment.”

Duffy pushed the conversation into the realms of education, pointing out that for all the discussion the industry goes through, there perhaps needs to be a more ground-up approach to teaching people about the cloud.

Sendall noted, “This is a huge note worth taking – many people seem to think that you buy cloud space – you rent it, and keeping thousands of files there for a prolonged period of time can become very costly.”

Conidaris added, “I don’t think we’re doing a very good job of educating the market. When people come to me about cloud, most of them are adamant that they want to use flash. Then I tell them that flash is not a permanent fixture, that it degrades, and it will need to be replaced after perhaps four years. They backtrack very quickly!”

Sharman, who joked that “storage is dull”, questioned the decision that companies are currently faced with: “We’ve always asking the question [to cloud or not to cloud?] but I don’t think there is necessarily a good – or correct – answer. For me, the real question is not ‘Should we move to the cloud?’ – it’s ‘why would you not?’

Regardless of any future challenges, hurdles or complications, our moderator was succinct: “The cloud will evolve to become exactly what the industry requires it to be.”