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Remote workflows in a Covid-19 world

The team at Primestream investigate how Cloud can facilitate all kinds of complex media and broadcast workflows

In these trying and uncertain days of global pandemic, Cloud computing has never been more important. If your company hasn’t done so already, it’s a safe bet that it’s in the process of adopting remote workflows to protect team members, customers, and communities. On that note, it makes sense to take a closer look at the Cloud and how it can facilitate all kinds of complex media and broadcast workflows, but especially those that must now be managed by team members working from home and other remote locations. 

Cloud computing is not completely realised in the broadcast world, but we’re getting there

For many broadcasters, legacy infrastructures have worked so well for so long that they’re understandably reluctant to enter the realm of the Cloud. It’s getting harder and harder for them to balance critical requirements for real-time, high-resolution, quick-turnaround results with the need to connect teams geographically from separate locations. Reducing costs is top of mind, as is the ability to give team members seamless access to assets regardless of where the data is stored, with multiformat distribution capabilities. As these drivers continue to push broadcasters out of their comfort zone, Cloud computing is continuing to mature – with many trial projects and real-word implementations now underway or under evaluation. 

In our view, these are the best candidates for the Cloud:

  • Multiple sites looking to build integrated workflows where content is shared across locations and various tiers of storage. 
  • Projects with temporary workflows or remote production requiring broadcasters to connect distant locations back to headquarters. The current coronavirus crisis is a perfect example of this. 
  • A general need to manage costs by reducing infrastructure or the urge to stay current with technology as the pace of change picks up.  

It’s not hard to imagine a future when all of the services that a broadcaster needs will be available in the Cloud

In this scenario, launching a channel or a project is as simple as provisioning everything you might need – from storage to asset management to creative tools, rights management, scheduling, and distribution. But in today’s reality, not every part of the solution is available in the Cloud, and broadcasters are still getting the job done with workflows built around in-house systems that represent a lot of sunk cost. However, as new projects come up and new requirements emerge, and as replacement solutions begin to be considered, the Cloud will become a serious contender in any company’s list of options.

Key questions will start to define the conversation: Is there a Cloud-based option or do we need to upgrade what we have? Is the Cloud-based option more cost-effective? Can the Cloud-based solution integrate with the rest of my workflow? Is it safe? Is it secure? The answer to most, if not all, of these questions is YES, particularly as more and more companies offer up their own experience, migration paths, and expertise to help give others a clear understanding of the benefits and the confidence to move forward.

The content process is one that generally moves from capturing content through to production and ultimately export, publishing, and playout – with management needed all along the way. Each step offers opportunities to integrate with the Cloud, but those opportunities depend on the specific requirements of the workflow. If you have a lot of baseband live ingest, then moving all of that high-resolution content to the Cloud becomes a challenge. If your ultimate deliverable is OTT, then serving your content from the Cloud becomes much more viable. The success of a Cloud-based system will depend on whether it’s the right solution for the problem at hand, rather than a Cloud-based version of something that can be done better another way. The latter will cause you to compromise your workflow; the former will enhance it.

We have seen a steady progression from initial first steps to customers looking to manage long-term storage, transcoding, streaming, disaster recovery, and more in the Cloud. All of these solutions have elements in common: They supplement and expand the complete workflow requirements a customer might have, they are steps along the way to building a complete solution in the Cloud, and they integrate with existing solutions that are already within the bricks and mortar of a facility to extend that facility’s reach. 

New approaches need to be permanent solutions

In our pre-Covid-19 world, media enterprises had the luxury of exploring the above approaches to Cloud migration and taking all the time they needed to shop solutions – a decision-making process that could take months or even years.. But extraordinary times call for extraordinary measures, and companies needs to adopt remote workflows immediately. 

A 100 per cent Cloud-based asset management solution allows businesses to store and manage critical media assets from anywhere in the world. By delivering all the robust functionality of an enterprise-grade MAM right to users’ remote workstations, Cloud solutions are already helping customers maintain their critical media workflows. 

However, it’s important to remember that we’re not looking for a temporary fix that will become obsolete in three months. Companies today are looking for something to form the core of an end-to-end solution that makes up a more comprehensive, longer-term strategy for a media operation to migrate to cloud-based workflows, simply and efficiently.

Media enterprises are looking at systems that can deliver unparalleled flexibility and proven reliability for media workflows from capture through to delivery. A company that will help them continue to tell their stories.