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Maximising cloud economics in post production

Transitioning to the cloud isn’t merely about embracing new technology, it's about leveraging it intelligently and maximising cloud economics, to unlock its full potential, writes 7fivefive managing director Tim Burton

With its promise of enhanced flexibility, improved efficiency and reduced costs, it’s not surprising that media organisations are attracted to the cloud. But while on the one hand there is a desire to migrate post production workflows to the cloud to leverage these benefits, navigating cloud expenses and optimising editing workflows and data storage is a daunting prospect for many. Broadcasters face challenges relating to opaque cloud expenses, uncertainties around data usage, and escalating egress fees. And these issues are helping to fuel hesitancy to move post production workflows to the cloud.

To be successful in cloud endeavours means fully maximising cloud economics. To do this, broadcast organisations need to plan systems integration carefully and manage resources effectively. This takes a deep understanding of how different types of cloud platforms operate, along with crystal clear clarity around storage metrics and egress fees. The whole premise of cloud cost efficiency is based on a model of need-based consumption, and consumption-based cost. In other words, to be efficient in the cloud, media companies must ensure they only pay for the resource that they actually need. If broadcasters and post studios are to successfully avoid unnecessary and unexpected costs spikes, they need to arm themselves with the right knowledge, and learn to monitor and manage cloud resources effectively. 

Know your data and manage it wisely

Every organisation’s data storage requirements are different. To achieve cloud cost-efficiency, media organisations need to use the right cloud platform or combination of solutions that best meets their storage requirements. Volume of data, as well as how the data is used, in terms of how often it is pushed and pulled, are all determining factors. Storage metrics need to be carefully considered because having the right cloud storage solution in place that aligns closely with data needs will help safeguard against paying for unnecessary storage resource.

Additionally, storage resources need to be carefully monitored and managed on an ongoing basis because requirements can and do change over time. When the volume of data fluctuates, storage should be spun-up and down accordingly so that you’re only paying for what you need. This flexibility provided by cloud services needs to be fully leveraged for maximum cost-efficiency.

But it’s not all about data storage costs. Egress fees, the charge for moving data out of the cloud to another destination, can quickly escalate if workflows are not optimised for the cloud. And understandably, the thought of out-of-control egress fees is enough to leave most media companies shaking in their boots. But egress doesn’t have to mean runaway costs. With meticulous planning, carefully thought-out workflows, and thorough monitoring and management of resources, it’s possible to control egress fees and avoid unnecessary costs.

It’s important that post production workflows are optimised to avoid situations where data is moved to the cloud for storage, then moved out again soon after for editing and content processing tasks, resulting in costly and often avoidable egress fees. By migrating editing and media processing workflows into the cloud, media organisations can avoid this scenario, and at the same time streamline processes.

Improve resource visibility

Post production workflows can be optimised by moving editing processes to the cloud, where it makes sense to do so. This will likely be in situations when it would increase productivity, streamline workflows, reduce costs, or because of specific capabilities that cloud services offer. Editing in the cloud on remote editing workstations can reduce capex, and also provide post-studios with a means of quickly and easily scaling up (and down) the number of edit workstations in operation, as needed. It also enables geographically dispersed editors and media operators to collaborate seamlessly on projects in real time.

 But while editing in the cloud undoubtedly has the power to vastly speed up workflows, as a virtual resource, it can also prove challenging to manage effectively. Post-production managers or co-ordinators need the ability to oversee all workstation usage so that they can monitor inactivity and adjust the number of workstations accordingly. That way, if a workstation isn’t in use, then it won’t incur fees. Having this kind of centralised overview is critical because it provides much needed visibility in terms of resource usage, allowing resources to be closely monitored and managed, so that workflows can be as efficient as possible.

While the cloud undoubtedly offers post-production many advantages, media organisations can only realise its benefits by maximising cloud economics. And this demands a careful approach, and a deep understanding of storage metrics and egress fees. By optimising workflows for the cloud and improving resource visibility, media companies can ensure that they improve efficiency and avoid unnecessary costs. Transitioning to the cloud isn’t merely about embracing new technology, it’s about leveraging it intelligently and maximising cloud economics, to unlock its full potential.