Attending IBC 2022, it’s clear to see how far the media industry has transitioned to managing content in the cloud. It’s also clear to see that no two cloud deployments, which have become a must-have for all software vendors in one way or another, are the same, and it’s interesting that nearly all claim to be cloud-native. But what does cloud-native actually mean? According to GitLab, one of the biggest dev-ops platforms, “Cloud-native is a term used to describe applications that are built to run in a cloud computing environment. These applications are designed to be scalable, highly available, and easy to manage.”
By contrast, traditional applications that are not cloud-native are often deployed in the cloud in Virtual Machines and so do not take full advantage of cloud benefits. Between these two positions, there is a wide greyscale range of applications that claim to be cloud-native as they are in the cloud and containerised but also do not take full advantage of the benefits.
The M&E industry has challenges that need to be addressed to ensure a real cloud-native solution.
Taking advantage of the cloud
Cloud services have many advantages: quick time to market, elasticity, accessibility, security to name the most relevant, but for a platform to be able to offer all these benefits the applications need to be architectured and deployed with a cloud-based mindset that can be summarised as:
- Use of containers
- Cost-efficiency, using, when possible, services in the cloud (database, indexing/searching, storage) to maximise ROI
- Elasticity, to be able to scale up and down according to processing needs
- Visibility, to give customers all the metrics to be able to optimise the operation according to the business needs. Sometimes using fewer resources is sufficient and there is no need to spend money to increase speed
- Future-proof, simple upgrades and evolution to meet future needs
Most of the software that is in the cloud is containerised but not all meet all of these requirements, particularly in the M&E industry.
The cloud in the M&E industry: building the content supply chain
The M&E industry has specific requirements that make the cloud operation more complex, particularly when building the content supply chain. The first is media management, all the applications need to access the media in an efficient way. The second is the integration of all the applications as part of the ecosystem to be able to implement the content supply chain. These two requirements make the ‘cloud- native for media’ even more challenging than with other services such as email, mobile apps or any other we consume on a daily basis. This is particularly true with integrations, as the software that is containerised needs to be decoupled from the plugins. Otherwise, microservices will become monsters with a lot of plugins inside and every little upgrade in one integration will force the microservice to be upgraded too, with the risk that implies.
In addition, the interfaces for all the plugins need to be unified because if they’re not, a change in one interface, even if decoupled as a plugin, will force the micro service to be upgraded too, and same for the metadata that is sent and received as part of the integration.
Business processes that are used to implement the content supply chain also need to be decoupled as packages, and be easy to define, maintain and upgrade.
That’s why having a true media integration platform that abstracts the interface and the data model is key to having a real ‘cloud-native for media’ deployment.
Broadcasters want solutions that work now and that are flexible enough to evolve and adapt to future needs. Taking cloud deployments for media to the next level implies that upgrades are easy, low risk, can be done automatically or by non-technical people, and of course are not vendor dependent. Therefore, cloud-native applications for media need to implement a true CI/CD process not only for the software but also all the integration plugins and workflows.
This must be achieved by defining a repository where all the microservices, plugins and workflows are delivered and the deployments are upgraded only with the elements they need, minimising the risk, ensuring business continuity, maximising ROI and minimising the total cost of ownership as there is no dependence on the vendor.
Tedial’s smartWork NoCode cloud-native media integration platform is built with microservices and kubernetes to provide future-proofing and scalability, both of media operations and resources.