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Challenges of Cloud Infrastructure for Live and VOD

Learn more about cloud migration at Streaming Media East.

Read the complete transcript of this clip:

Magnus Svensson: What are the challenges and differences between live and file-based to VOD migration and cloud infrastructure?

Loke Dupont: For live, it's tricky because you've got to get a live signal from somewhere. And typically--at least in our case--that's an SDI input. So there's some physical SDI signaling somewhere on premise that we have to move to the cloud. The other challenge of live is, of course, as you're adding more steps to move that somewhere else, you'll add latency, and latency is something that we typically want to avoid. So there's definitely a balancing act there, and how much latency you add by adding a long chain to move that signal and how you can move it to the cloud without compromising stability. Because, of course, as we all know, internet connection are not always perfect. And at some point, it goes over the internet in that scenario, and that can be a challenge.

Whereas if you're doing file-based workflows, file-based tends to be more resilient. You tend to get the files more ahead of time. So you have more time to catch up in some ways, but you can also retry that transmission. If that fails, you can really retry a live signal. If the live goes down, it goes down. There's nothing else to retry that because you're sending it out as soon as you get it in. So there's different needs and challenges that are much different between live and VOD that makes live--at least in my view--a lot more challenging to move to the cloud environment.

Magnus Svensson: Peter, do you want to add something on that topic?

Peter Wharton: I think Loke hit the nail on the head beautifully. Live production, of all the different workflows of production, playout, and distribution is the last obstacle to really being able to build end-to-end workflows in the cloud, which is where you really get the value both in operations and cost efficiency. We've seen live production move to the cloud for cloud-native organizations like esports who are building really complicated live production workflows in the cloud. And their requirements are somewhat different from a major broadcaster, but we're also seeing where some major broadcasters--Sky would be a perfect example in Europe--are moving live production into the cloud and doing it at scale. And so we're seeing this happen, and you have to address latency, reliability. You have to create control, but the beauty of cloud is being able to build exactly the workflow need for the complexity of the event and live production, which you never dealt with an on-premise system. So you might have something with one M/E or six M/Es. It wouldn't matter. You could build whatever you needed.

And you're seeing these layered production systems with multiple production systems stacked to build this very layered complex event, and it scales on demand. So there are a lot of advantages in getting live production to the cloud, and that's where a lot of effort is being focused on today.

Our model is clearly different than a commercial, sponsored model where live and near-live programming for us is still gonna remain on our typical an historic--at this point--delivery by satellite to local stations and then through broadcast to consumers. Partially, that has to do with the idea of turnaround time on the programs that may have to do also with limited rights windows for a news and public affairs program, where it's actually much more efficient for us to be able to put that through a live traditional broadcast chain than it would be to deal with a cloud, because of the management of that and the cost involved in it.

But I should say, though, that a significant milestone this past summer is that the new engine interconnection system that the public media system is set up in the U.S. Has now gotten to the point where we've eliminated most of our non-live at or near-live satellite feeds. The very traditional way for us to deliver content to stations has now been all moved to a cloud-based delivery, just stations on demand. And as a supplier, as a distributor, it's a significant advantage for us because we're now no longer held hostage in some ways to limited availability on linear satellite feeds to stations. Stations can wind up taking anything in our catalog that's in the cloud, and use it whenever they want within the rights windows. So, it's another aspect of cloud migration that maybe that might not be immediately obvious, but that's been a significant one.

Peter Wharton: One other thing, there is no longer the need to have a linear channel. That's mostly file-based content being played out, delivered as a linear channel to the endpoints the way it used to be. But the flip side is, in live production, there's a lot more moving pieces to a live production, especially in a major news organization than just a TD running a switcher. So what we're also seeing is, with some of these news organizations where we're standing up hundreds of multiviewers in the cloud, that an operator can access remotely and configure from working from home. So now they can have 200 or 400 producers all working from home, switching between live events and producing live events, all that actually going into an office and managing this from anywhere in the world. So it's a wholly different model too, of how they're building live production at scale with some of these companies.

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