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How to Distribute Workloads in Hybrid Streaming Environments

What are hybrid streaming environments and how do large-scale streamers and broadcasters manage workloads and divide tasks between cloud and on-prem infrastructure? Nadine Krefetz, Consultant, Reality Software, Contributing Editor, Streaming Media, discusses this topic with Loke Dupont, Solution Architect, TV2, and Andy Beach, CTO, Media & Entertainment, Worldwide, Microsoft, in this clip from Streaming Media Connect 2023.

Krefetz asks Dupont, “If you’ve got a hybrid environment, what specifically are you doing [in that] environment?”

“It depends a little bit on how you define hybrid,” Dupont says. “It can mean that you're doing some things on-premise and some things in the cloud, or it could mean that you're doing the same workload on-premise and in the cloud.” He further breaks down how TV2, in particular, manages hybrid events. “So we are a broadcaster,” he says. “[Our] workflows run primarily on-premise. It takes a while for that technology to be updated, and a lot of it is a number of years old and wasn’t designed with the cloud in mind. Also, many of the workloads are for production, and production of the broadcasts are very easy to run on-premise. You don't have any bursty loads, you don't have a lot of customers accessing that at any given time.”

Dupont provides an example of one of TV2’s primary services and how it poses different delivery challenges compared to their broadcast production workloads. “Our direct-to-consumer offering, called T2 Play, runs in a cloud environment because it has a lot of that usage that is very bursty in nature. You'll have a lot of people watching if there's some sort of sports event going on that will bring a lot of viewers in. It could be that there's a news event that triggers a lot of people to watch our news channel. Those things come with a much higher load in the peak periods than in the slower periods. In terms of the news, that also brings a lot of load that's not necessarily predictable. You can sort of predict when we have sports events, but news events, like Covid and the shutdowns, came with very little warning, and we wouldn't be able to prepare for that. We have to be able to catch all those viewers when those events happen, and those workarounds tend to run in the cloud where we have access to more capacity that we can utilize at short notice.”

“Okay, capacity and bursting,” Krefetz says. To Andy Beach of Microsoft, she says, “Tell us about what you are seeing because you've got media and entertainment clients all over the world, and you've also got some kind of perspective on this.”

“Loke said it absolutely right,” Beach says. “It’s in workloads where you can't plan for it, such as a big news event or a natural disaster. [Then], it makes perfect sense to burst to the cloud. The other side of that coin is that for those sports events where you have known peaks and valleys to things, you still don't want to over-design infrastructure. In other words, you're not going to go stand up a Super Bowl's worth of infrastructure to drive your daily workloads because you know that your capacity will sit idle. You'll need five for 15% of that same resource. And so it makes sense to design something where you can deploy it in an environment that is not yours – a cloud of some sort – and burst and utilize the resources there. And then when the big event is over, you can pull back the resources that you're using to something more manageable for your day-to-day work.”

Learn more about live streaming distribution workloads at Streaming Media East 2023.

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