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How Cloud Workflows Enhance Streaming Scalability

One of the popular arguments in favor of cloud migration for streaming producers concerns the economics of scalability. Steve Vonder Haar, Senior Analyst, Intelligent Video & Enterprise, IntelliVid Research, discusses the key benefits of moving to cloud streaming workflows with Corey Smith, Sr. Director, Advanced Production Technology, CBS Sports Digital, Paramount, and Loke Dupont, Staff Engineer, TV 2 Denmark, from their panel at Streaming Media Connect 2023.

Vonder Haar asks Smith, “For your video production workflow, which is better for doing things at scale or what role can cloud play in that realm? Are cloud solutions kind of considered to be kids’ table stuff and not able to handle the scale? Or does it bring something to bear that you may not get with an on-premises type of offering?”

Smith says that it largely depends on the type of production. “When you start looking at more Remote Integration Model (REMI) types of cloud applications, I think that there's a good fit there,” he says. “But sometimes, when you are having long haul discussions between talent at a desk and interviews coming in from other places, you still require the lower latency communications protocols to allow that seamless operation. And so what we do with the cloud-based hybrid stuff is we get them to be the creative resources in the studios, and then we take that content, move it to the cloud, and mix the production there.”

He cites live sports streaming as a use case. When acquiring a live sports stream from the cloud, he says, “We mix in the onsite desk shows at our facilities, between halftime, pre-game, post-game. We acquire feeds from other partners delivering the content to us, and we're kind of decorating those as you would see any other kind of major sporting event, but we're mixing it in the cloud instead.”

Vonder Haar says to Loke Dupont, “You handle huge volumes of content. What are your thoughts on leveraging cloud solutions to scale up for major encoding and video archiving activity?”

Dupont says that cloud solutions are necessary when handling a high volume of content from external parties. “Maybe you get a bunch of content that you license from some external party, you get a catalog of, let's say, a thousand assets that you have to ingest within a certain time period,” he says. “And nobody wants to have that spare capacity on site because that's equipment that sits dormant most of the time and you're basically wasting money for something that's not going to be used anywhere. So if you're dealing in a world where things like that change all the time, where you get a bunch of content that you have to ingest to a platform that you license an entire catalog from some other party, you almost have to build it in a cloud environment because it's the only way that you can, within a reasonable timeframe, handle processes and get that content ready for distribution.”

He notes that in the highly competitive world of streaming services, as much efficiency and speed as possible is crucial, and he says that sports are a great example because of live sports streaming’s variable schedules. “It's there when it's there,” he says. “You have to be able to show it when it's live. Nobody wants to watch sports with a delay or at some other point in time. And some sports events [are] easy. It's just a football match, there's only one field, that's it. [But] other stuff like Wimbledon, for instance, you have multiple different courts going at the same time. In a cloud environment, you can scale that up and have more live channels than you have available on traditional broadcast. And that's also a case where I think the cloud contributes something.”

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