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Enterprise Rushes to the Cloud, Yet Significant Hurdles Remain

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The point being made here is that case law around trade secrets being stored with a third-party provider is somewhat uncharted territory. In some ways, this goes back to Turgut’s comments about proper security provisioning, if one considers the concept of cloud-based video delivery as the modern equivalent of two competing newspaper publishers selling their daily newspaper out of the same vending machine.

The FindLaw posting ends with a more pragmatic argument: “And would you want these secrets in the cloud anyway?”

Making the Leap to Cloud Video

Many enterprises have already used cloud encoding and transcoding services for emergency failover or one-off, high-profile webcasts, so the natural next step is to determine whether to move completely to a cloud solution.

As the security and trade secrets issues noted previously are addressed by an enterprise’s corporate communications, IT, and legal departments, the next step in cloud encoding, transcoding, and delivery is to work through a phased move toward cloud services.

There are several recommended steps to consider in the process.

Find a test market or business unit. This could be an existing market or business unit, or it could be a market that the company has identified for exploratory expansion. In economically uncertain times, the cloud approach may be just the ticket. To reiterate one of the benefits mentioned earlier, cloud computing provides the ability to expand a corporate footprint without significant CAPEX spending.

This applies to more than large multinational corporations (MNCs) with a solid footprint in many countries. Larger domestic enterprises looking to expand into new business units or international markets may find this expanded presence provides a cost-effective test bed.

Even small or midsize businesses that don’t have a significant in-house solution could benefit from the addition of cloud encoding services as they expand their marketing and public relations to new media outlets.

Optimize bandwidth. The concept of bandwidth optimization was mentioned earlier in the article as a reason to consider the move toward cloud-based streaming delivery. For emergency cloud-transcoding usage, bandwidth optimization is less important, since the assumption is that only seven to 12 streams will be delivered from the on-site location to the cloud.

Ramp CEO Tom Wilde recommends encrypting video streams from the source, whether it originates from the enterprise’s internal server, a CDN, or SaaS, such as Microsoft SharePoint.

Bandwidth optimization becomes increasingly important for hybrid and full cloud encoding solutions. Fortunately, since cloud computing eliminates a significant amount of CAPEX spending, a portion of that CAPEX savings can be focused toward optimizing bandwidth, including routing to interconnect points between corporate data centers and cloud computing data centers.

The good news is that interconnect points are growing alongside the continued growth of cloud computing. As more data centers are coming online each year, the likelihood of robust bandwidth connectivity to one of these key interconnects also increases, decreasing the potential need for additional bandwidth services.

Get a test account. Cloud-based streaming services -- whether encoding, transcoding, or delivery -- can be tested immediately. Unlike traditional in-house solutions that take months to build out and tweak, even for a prototype, a cloud-based SaaS solution is fully available to explore from the moment one signs up for a test account.

Some services even offer a free account, including the ability to test API integration, eliminating the months of build-out generally associated with a typical enterprise deployment. This not only lowers CAPEX, it also drives initial OPEX lower.

The benefits of both lower CAPEX and initially lower OPEX may be somewhat offset by the fact that a SaaS may be on an enhancement time frame or path that does not correspond to the enhancements an enterprise needs to implement today. In my experience, though, most SaaS providers are open to accelerating particular features for the right customer.

Multitenant solutions such as Anvato are able to serve multiple customers and ensure that content, applications, and data remain distinct between each SaaS customer.

Take time to evaluate. While most multinational corporations will use cloud-based encoding, transcoding, and delivery on large events, the move toward cloud-based workflows disrupts existing workflows and may have unforeseen repercussions.

As such, like any large process change, the move to full cloud-based encoding, transcoding, and delivery services should be evaluated over the course of several months.

The upside to this measured approach is something I’d call the benefit of timeframe compression. A few months in cloud services often equals years in traditional software optimization.

The beauty of a SaaS offering is the service provider’s ability to add new features for multiple clients all at one time, rather than forcing each client to build all of its own features. I’ve found over several years of reviewing potential online services that features are being enhanced or added at a much faster rate than they were even last year.

A good rule of thumb when moving through the planning, evaluation, and buying cycles for cloud streaming media services is that SaaS providers work in 3–9 month windows for service enhancements versus traditional in-house solution windows of 12–24 months.

Conclusion

Over the past year, most cloud-based streaming solutions have expanded their offerings to include on-the-fly conversion between formats for both live and on-demand streaming content, so this article instead focused on areas that might be less apparent, such as security and trade secrets. These areas are of heightened importance to multinational corporations that do business across multiple countries but are of growing importance to smaller or regional enterprises looking to expand.

The trend toward cloud-based streaming as the majority approach to at least transcoding and delivery is easy to spot on the horizon. As such, we’re going to make a weather prediction for all of 2014: The forecast for enterprise over the next year is almost the same as it has been for media and entertainment firms in 2013 -- very cloudy.

This article appears in the January/February 2013 issue of Streaming Media magazine as "Cloudy Skies Ahead for the Enterprise."

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