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The Role of Data in Cloud Streaming Workflow Decisions

What role does data play in decisions about cloud workflows? Where does that data come from and what does that data tell us? Three industry experts weigh in on these questions and talk about how shifting data to the cloud has ultimately streamlined workflows and costs compared to maintaining and moving data around on-prem networks.

Eric Schumacher-Rasmussen, Chair, Streaming Media Conferences, and CMO, id3as, says, “I think back to something that Jason Thibeault, who's the Executive Director of the Streaming Video Technology Alliance, said years ago at a Streaming Media conference. He reminded us that when video is streaming, it's just data, but everything up until 5, 10 years ago, it wasn't just data. Now, it's getting closer.” He asks Michael Koetter, SVP of Digital Media Systems, Warner Bros. Discovery, about his thoughts on this new data-heavy aspect of streaming.

“I have a couple of different ways of looking at that,” Koetter says. “There's a principle which holds pretty true with cloud called ‘data gravity.’ And that idea is that if you have a large amount of data, it's probably easier to locate your compute and other resources close to that data – it’s going to attract them rather than move that data around a network. And so I think [in] situations where content is originating in the cloud, or it's egressing from the cloud or maybe both, those are obvious places where we're starting to look and say, well, maybe instead of bringing that information back down to an on-prem environment, maybe it's better to just leave it in the cloud. And that way we can kind of cluster the networking, the compute, along with the storage that's in the cloud. And it saves a lot of wasted movement of material. So I think that's one way to look at it.”

Koetter also talks about how it has become more efficient to manage and measure data in the cloud. “My cloud security dashboard just works because it's in the cloud infrastructure…the scale of usage is there. All of my configuration is there, and it's presented to me in a data dashboard. And that whole process is very time-consuming to try to get data on my on-prem utilization and security status and all that other kind of stuff. We have to put a lot of systems in place for that…the fact that there is such a proliferation of data about your cloud environment helps you to be a lot more efficient than you could be in a similar on-prem environment.”

Corey Smith, Sr. Director, Advanced Production Technology, CBS Sports Digital, Paramount, agrees with the points that Koetter makes and includes some additional insights. “It doesn't make sense to move petabytes worth of data back to the ground just to analyze it there,” he says. “You might as well do it in the cloud, and that could be any data that's coming from your clients that are used to consume your video programming and your content – to improve quality of service, find metrics about where in the world the majority of people are coming from, your hot regions versus cold regions. You can analyze to improve your service from a streaming perspective…it gives me as a business the opportunity to go out and solve those problems in a more strategic way.”

Smith also emphasizes how this approach makes for better financial efficiency in the long run. “It helps focus the dollars because we're not displacing it from some of the capital expenditure, so we're still spending it. It's just moving to different buckets,” he says. He also reiterates Koetter’s points about the better efficiency of data analytics in the cloud. “So my Infoset guys and my other DevOps personnel have one kind of look and feel of the entire environment without having to bounce into different systems.” He notes that overall, this streamlining of systems makes for a better quality of experience for customers.

Rick Clarkson, Chief Product Officer, Signiant, also concurs with Koetter and Smith on cloud data efficiency, and he further stresses its cost-effectiveness. “Part of the ways that we make money is we move data, but we agree with you, only move what's necessary…if you don't need to move it on-prem don't do it, or you only move what you need…I think it's really important whether you're providing a service or you're providing a product as a service. And the cloud gives you the ability to get that.”

Learn more about cloud streaming workflows at Streaming Media West 2022.

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