Five mistakes to avoid when migrating live video production to the cloud

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Cloud manufacturing. We all know what the dream is: reduced costs, increased flexibility and control, faster turnaround times and the assurance of having unlimited production capacity available “on demand”.

Live video production can be a complex challenge at the best of times. Become an NDI native and cloud ready offers content producers the ability to streamline workflows around a future-ready architecture, i.e., by nature, more IP than copper, more software than hardware, but special care must be taken when seeking to unleash the potential. If you get it wrong, the dream can quickly turn into an expensive nightmare.

Let’s look at five of the most common challenges that need to be addressed when moving to the cloud:

Mistake #1: Lack of security
Sony Pictures found out the hard way what it means to have a computer security breach when a group of hackers exacted revenge on them for producing a movie they said disdained North Korean leader Kim Jong Un. Not all security issues have such a big impact or high profile, but security issues are still one of the most common challenges organizations face when migrating to the cloud.

The media and entertainment industry is content driven: access and rights to exploit content is how value is generated, so trusting a third party to protect and secure data assets is a unpleasant reality.

How to avoid it: Identity and verification, access control, privacy security, data recovery, and transparent credentials should all be considered when selecting partners for cloud-based businesses. In addition to these technical factors, it is useful to consider the reputation of the supplier. Seeking to partner with a supplier who has as much, if not more, to lose than you – should the worst happen – can reinforce the level of care taken to protect your assets.

Mistake #2: Not considering cost
With Gartner estimating that global spending on public cloud services will reach $364 billion by 2022, it’s clear there’s a lot of OpEx floating around in this market. Early adopters of the cloud-based architecture quickly found that the costs they encountered were prohibitive and quickly redesigned their deployments.

Dropbox is a prime example, detailing in its 2017 filing with the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission how they saved $75 million by optimizing its use of cloud services. Indeed, analysts Andreessen Horowitz estimate that poor optimization of cloud services could be responsible for the $100 billion loss in valuation of the top 50 public software companies currently using cloud infrastructure.

How to avoid it: Selecting a design that’s right for the use case and striking a sustainable balance between cloud and on-premises deployments helps protect an organization from unwanted additional costs.

Mistake #3: Lack of skills/expertise in cloud deployment
Gartner (again) in a survey of 437 global companies, found cloud talent shortages to be the biggest barrier to deploying emerging technologies. For many organizations in the M&E space, the migration from SDI to IP has been difficult as existing skills needed to be adapted and aligned with new, more IT-centric talent and skills.

How to avoid it: The step to the cloud extends this pool of resources again, with the need to evolve beyond a dev-ops model to one that enables version management, configuration, orchestration and operations in a multi-vendor landscape. Faced with the complexity of the cloud, many content creators are looking to partner with experts who have a strong track record of delivering in this space.

Mistake #4: High latency
Physics is great, but it can also provide rules that aren’t universally useful. In a remote and elastic computing model, like the “cloud”, several factors can introduce latency (the key measure of delay) into something like a live video production.

A constant thorn in the side of production teams is the speed of light. It just can’t move through fiberglass any faster than it constantly does and therefore takes time to get from point A (perhaps a sports field in Amsterdam) to point B, an installation remote computing (perhaps a data center in Dublin).

As video is data heavy, we may want to compress it to reduce the amount of information we need to move around – both encoding and decoding this require computational effort, which is time consuming.

Add to that careful network overhead designed to ensure integrity and quality and even more time is absorbed. If you want to take Camera 3 for the close-up of the ball coming off the tee, you want your remote button to hit a cloud-based switch to, almost immediately, connect that input to your program mix. Too much latency and you’ll miss the shot.

How to avoid it: Technical developments have all made it possible to manage latency, whether it is data or control signal latency, to choose the right codec and the right transport protocol (see NDI) to the intelligent use of synchronization and well-designed workflows. With the right approach, latency doesn’t need to be an obstacle.

Mistake #5: Lack of data clouds your judgment? (Pun intended!)
Like any “hot topic”, a lot is said and written about the cloud, and many “experts” disagree on the best way to proceed. With so many buzzwords and the lack of a well-honed playbook, the cloud has earned a reputation for being complex and expensive. It can be helpful to focus on the desired outcome rather than the deployment method.

If scalability and flexibility are required, then the “cloud” can play an important role in a content pipeline. But you probably want to control costs, ensure quality and safety, and improve reliability. In short, it’s best to partner with people who have a proven set of solutions to help you find your own balance between cloud and on-premises. The focus should ultimately be on the content, not the compute location!

How to avoid it: Understanding what the cloud means to you is a good place to start. You might want to watch this demo video, where AWS joins Vizrt to demystify cloud-based live production problems and show you how to make the cloud a reliable part of your content pipeline.

The sports and arts that underpin live production are themselves underpinned by creativity, agility and impulse. How these three attributes are essentially channeled becomes the live performance that producers seek to share with a wider audience. Likewise, live production over IP relies on many attributes: you need to understand the creative promise of the cloud, but also how to mitigate risk; how to exploit the commercial potential of the cloud and not be mistaken for the ill-conceived architectural work of some consultants.

The five mistakes listed above have been made countless times so now you can avoid them and take advantage of the phenomenal scale and versatility that cloud solutions present.

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