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The reinvention of cloud workflows

Simon Bergmark, chief product officer, Codemill, looks at how cloud-native partners and vendors can help media organisations to both prioritise interoperability as well as optimise solutions for new innovations to be rolled out on an ongoing basis

If you listen to the media industry hype, it might appear that companies have seamlessly embraced the cloud transition. However, upon closer examination, a more intricate story begins to unfold. Initially, the surge in cloud adoption was driven by the need for business continuity, leading to the hurried implementation of remote content editing and processing solutions. Media organisations had to set-up workflows that may not have been ideal, just to ensure the continuous flow of content. 

While this addressed the immediate requirements, the sophistication of editing, compliance, and QC functionality, varied significantly when working in the cloud. Since then, the distinction between cloud-ready and cloud-native solutions has become increasingly evident. Cloud-ready technology, which is typically designed for traditional infrastructure and then adapted to work in the cloud, has ingrained limitations. While cloud-native technology, which is created from the ground up, can take full advantage of its capabilities.

Innovation in the cloud

Developing cloud-native versions of the traditional on-premise systems used in post production is no easy task. It requires time, investment, and effort. If not executed properly, vendors may produce solutions that are inefficient and burn through significant financial and human resources. Conversely, a well-designed cloud-native solution is purpose-built, resilient, scalable, and flexible. Now that we find ourselves in a new era of innovation, technology vendors have been able to dedicate time and effort to developing effective cloud-native tools and services. 

While cloud-ready applications could be migrated with minimal changes during the urgency of the pandemic, they weren’t able to fully leverage scalability, maximise accessibility of media, or make use of bolt-on services. Cloud-native applications on the other hand are designed to dynamically respond to the infrastructure they are integrated with, offering much broader possibilities. This lightweight approach is paving the way in bringing applications to the content, rather than the other way around.

Control in the cloud

Media organisations have gained more control over how their content workflows are transitioned and constructed, with existing infrastructure in mind. Companies want their media workflow, their way, and are no longer prepared to put up with vendor lock-in or restrictive end-to-end processes. Many are tired of completely overhauling their systems to gain minimal advancements on features, then having to repeat this bulk investment in an endless cycle. We are at a tipping point for M&E workflows, so it’s only reasonable to raise expectations.

The nature of cloud-based development means that iteration is a part of the playbook, so companies get the benefits of the latest devops work, and it keeps on being rolled out. Cloud-native applications are built with resilience and adaptability in mind, taking advantage of cloud workflow’s distributed nature. While cloud-ready technology is somewhat flexible, there are many benefits that are just not achievable within the constraints of those systems. Cloud-native technology, however, is designed to fully exploit the opportunities offered by the cloud. 

Customisation in the cloud

Customising the UX or UI is often challenging with a cloud-ready approach, even when an API allows for some integration. This issue also extends to media supply chain software, which is challenging for larger entertainment providers, with unique internal processes and workflows tailored to their specific needs. When it comes to building cloud-native applications, extensive APIs allow for significantly more customisation. This enables better collaboration between different teams and stakeholders involved in media workflows. By providing recognisable interfaces, developers, editors, and content operations teams can work together more efficiently.  

Solutions with well-designed APIs that encourage integrations between systems and platforms, allow media organisations to tailor their workflows to specific requirements. Developers can seamlessly integrate third-party tools, plugins, and services, giving entertainment providers the flexibility to choose the best-in-class solutions for different parts of their media workflows. Customisable APIs also allow media organisations to extend the functionality of existing content processing and editing platforms, or build their own applications on top of them.

Automation in the cloud

Metadata-driven workflows have become crucial in the race to deliver more content in less time, particularly with limited resources. But for compliance and validation workflows to operate more effectively they must leverage AI and automation processes only where it makes sense. This means utilising metadata for time-consuming manual tasks, and a human eye for more intuitive processes. Intelligent use of automation empowers media professionals to focus on their expertise, rather than mundane and time-consuming tasks that don’t make the most of their skills. 

 While certain technological challenges remain, many post-production processes can be fully accomplished in the cloud. AI-powered tools can automate content analysis and metadata tagging among other applications. This ensures that companies can comb the archive and monetise that content, in ways that were previously unachievable. Entertainment providers are recognising that scaling workflows, achieving global collaboration, and making the most of their assets necessitates cloud-native operations. 

The future of the cloud

The next few years will be highly promising and transformative for media workflows, offering unparalleled development. As content post-production, localisation, and distribution requirements continue to grow, the cloud provides the ability to rise to these challenges. Remote collaboration among geographically dispersed teams is no longer the exception, it is the norm, and intelligently utilising archive tiers or avoiding the creation of multiple versions will become an essential part of keeping costs under control.

There has been a lot of discussion, that managing complex media workflows poses challenges for entertainment providers needing to attract talent for system maintenance and development. This has led to a growing trend of partnering with proactive system developers that can bring expertise in UX, architecture, and media workflow integration to the table. If media organisations choose cloud-native vendors and partners, they not only prioritise interoperability but also optimise solutions for new innovations to be rolled out on an ongoing basis. These continued advancements in cloud, AI, and connectivity, will shape the future landscape of media production, distribution, and consumption.