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Evolving cloud economics: Where does media stand?

Richard Mansfield, product management director at MediaKind explains what advantages Managed Cloud Applications offer broadcasters and TV operators

The media industry’s evolution to the cloud has been convoluted at the best of times. While there is an urgent need to rapidly launch new services and compete with a swathe of new streaming platforms, many of the current cloud migration approaches within media are incredibly inefficient and fail to leverage some of the cloud’s key benefits. A new approach to the relationship between media companies, technology vendors and cloud service providers is desperately needed.

The truth of the situation when cloud technology is fast becoming the de-facto approach when deploying new media services. Markets and Markets forecast the growth of cloud-based video streaming solutions at a 20.9 per cent CAGR between 2020-2025. Given that most media companies – including broadcasters, TV operators and content owners – have existing relationships with one or several cloud service providers (CSPs), an examination of the most efficient deployment and operational models is a vital undertaking. 

A fresh outlook on cloud deployments 

It’s undisputed that the public cloud enables media companies to deliver their services in the best way. Its benefits include decoupling infrastructure lifecycle and deployments from traditional approaches, adding the flexibility of scaling or usage, and optimising total cost of ownership. Beyond these, media companies must also understand what new cloud operational models could mean for their business and how they impact their existing infrastructures and relationships with technology vendors. 

The adoption of new approaches such as Continuous Integration and Continuous Release (CI/CR) and combined Development and Operations (DevOps) have hastened within modern cloud rollouts. However, while many media companies might leverage these approaches internally already, they’ll often revert to traditional methods when integrating third party components and solutions. 

A new methodology for public cloud deployments for media companies sets out to aid the evolution of operational models from on-premises integration to Managed Cloud Applications (MCAs). In short, MCAs are a new form of commercial and deployment models for cloud-based software, sitting somewhere between Software-as-a-Service (SaaS) and software subscription models. The MCA approach aids media companies as they look to manage their relationships with CSPs while utilising technology vendor expertise in the most efficient and productive way. 

Demystifying MCAs 

In an MCA model, the software is deployed and managed by the technology vendor within a customer’s cloud account. This allows the customer to use their preferred CSP, rather than being locked into whichever provider the technology vendor is integrated with. The choice of CSP is typically selected as part of a wider company transformation, while utilising these extended agreements and spending commitments for media use cases. 

The role of the technology vendor within an MCA deployment is to ensure the service is continually monitored and available, maintain software updates, and manage the overall lifecycle of the solution. Not only does this make use of their existing software maintenance expertise, it also avoids unnecessary costs for the media company who would otherwise need to hire specialist internal staff. Furthermore, it enables the automation of maintenance operations, minimising errors and costs while allowing updates to be performed remotely. 

The advantages for broadcasters and TV operators 

The prospects of MCAs for broadcasters and TV operators are immense. For TV operators, MCAs offer a way to make their media businesses run more efficiently while navigating the complex process of migrating their Pay TV businesses towards streaming-first functions. MCAs enable them to eliminate the burden of operating their cloud infrastructure. Instead, they can place the onus onto third-party experts who have the pre-existing knowledge to operate their software and cloud assets. It also allows them to scale efficiently within the operator’s network, a particularly beneficial feature as they find more streaming clients within their pay-TV services. 

It’s a similar story for broadcasters, who need to improve the efficiency of their operations while understanding the operational need to move to the cloud eventually. To date, this migration which has been slow throughout the sector. The current multi-vendor approach taken by broadcasters, whereby they buy lots of equipment from multiple vendors and integrate it themselves with their own systems, requires lots of ongoing maintenance and access to that infrastructure. Moving their operational functions to the cloud, such as playout and distribution, while leaning on technology vendors to manage the entire process, makes this a far more efficient process. 

The shift to MCAs requires a whole new mindset and a radical new approach to media company’s operational structures. However, by relying on third party experts and trusting the resilience and wide-reaching capabilities of the cloud, they can guarantee a hands-off and seamless transition. The result will be far more freedom and ease to work within any existing deployment model, the ability to pick-and-chose which cloud service provider works for them, and most importantly, better media experiences for their customers. It’s a win-win situation that will place media companies front and center as they lay out their strategic vision.