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Everything is virtualised

Al Jazeera’s technology chief Mohamed Abuagla sent out a clear message to vendors working on cloud-based applications: keep systems open and look at ways of forming partnerships with IT companies – or risk getting swallowed up.

“The industry has been infrastructure obsessed with toys in rooms and connecting them and there’s a lot of lock-in happening. That’s going to be disturbed by the cloud and new players coming in,” he warned in a session titled ‘Cloud Processing: Applications that make sense’.

Abuagla pointed to the growing list of IT companies exhibiting at IBC this year – Microsoft, Oracle and Amazon – who “are really jumping in on this market ”.

The CTO calculated that the combined R&D budget alone of the 11 IT companies exhibiting this year is around five times the size of the industry itself. “And these guys have a vision. They will buy everything up in the next five years and start again.”

The growing trend for virtualisation, where one machine can run on multiple environments, means that clients no longer care about what desktops or operating systems are used, Abuagla said.

“We have to change the way we are thinking and we have to adapt. We don’t care what we are running on because everything is virtualised.”

Fellow speaker Steve MacPherson, CTO of Framestore, revealed that the VFX house has already been using Google as an extension of its own machine room and that the tech giant was surprisingly engineering led. “You go into Google and there are lots of really smart people to align with. For people who do not care about hardware, virtualisation is very exciting.”

Cost, however, is still a challenge and MacPherson calculated that if the post house needed to use Google’s services for any more than four and a half months it would be cheaper to set up the operation in-house.