How to Build an Agile and Unified Automated Cloud Service with a Media Integration Platform
By Emilio L. Zapata, founder Tedial
Today’s M&E environment is much more complex than it was a few years ago. We are transitioning to a wider and more diverse range of software, IP, cloud and cross-platform technologies and there are more tools than ever before for every part of the workflow. This is because more and more software applications are needed, and companies have to rely on a greater number of vendors. This means that M&E companies of all types and sizes have to navigate a fragmented market and choose the applications they need for their specific workflow. Having more than fifty software applications and dozens of vendors is becoming common place in the M&E market. And this can be a challenge even for large organisations.
Trying to keep everything up and running and connected while software is upgraded or new tools are added is becoming an exhausting task and an unsustainable problem. Moving everything to IP may help simplify connections, but it doesn’t solve the inherent complexity of getting the different elements of hardware, software, cloud and services to work together reliably and at scale.
The Cloud Service Model Layering
The growing wave of cloud services provides businesses with easy access to a wide range of technologies, often at a more affordable price and with greater flexibility. While SaaS provides companies with tools to work better, there are other layers of services that are often on top of SaaS. These are essentially application integrations that switch the operating environment in the event of a disaster at the primary site, in addition to outsourcing of business processes.
The United States National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) formally describes a standard for bundling cloud services, referring to them as service models. In the diagram below, we present the NIST service models, extended with new service delivery models:
How do cloud services benefit media companies?
- Infrastructure as a Service (IaaS): The IaaS model is the simplest for cloud service providers. It includes processing, storage, and network services.
- Storage as a Service (STaaS): STaaS is a specific subset of IaaS specialized in storage services.
- Platform as a Service (PaaS): The Platform as a Service (PaaS) model includes services on top of IaaS services: middleware, application servers, database servers, portal servers, development environments.
- Software as a Service (SaaS): SaaS essentially provides applications as a service and also includes content services (for example, video on demand).
- Disaster Recovery as a Service (DRaaS): In the M&E market it is essential that DRaaS go beyond storing backups. It is critical that you offer the option to run applications in the cloud when a disaster is declared in the primary data center. Users change the working environment by keeping the same operation as much as possible.
- Integration Platform as a Service (iPaaS): The iPaaS model includes services that allow the integration of applications and systems both in the cloud (SaaS) and on-premises.
- Business Process as a Service (BPaaS): The BPaaS model combines software and workflows to offer complete business processes as a service. Many business processes have the potential to be applied to vertical markets such as media and entertainment.
The diagram shows the overlap of the different service layers. As we move up the service layers, the service provider takes on more responsibility and effort as the level of functionality increases. On the contrary, as we descend through the service layers, the service user assumes greater responsibility and effort in terms of personalizing the environment.
Implementing Business Agility with the Media Integration Platform
The processes that implement media services use a reconfigurable set of tools and workflows to facilitate creative collaboration and automation through software.
To move forward, the automation paradigm must be changed. This includes the orchestration of systems (point to point) to the choreography (coordination) of people, tasks, relationships, applications and systems, whilst considering the dynamic adjustment of processes to allow interaction between people or with partners in an ecosystem. The solution that enables this is a Cloud Media Integration Platform, which is easy to use and flexible so that all users can move forward quickly and benefit from process automation.
A Media Integration Platform needs all the cloud services highlighted in the diagram to coordinate (choreograph) people, tasks, relationships, applications and systems:
- Coordination of people’s work in an automated system environment requires a good BPaaS solution.
- The automation of media services should make the work on-premises or in the cloud transparent to users, facilitating protection against failures (DRaaS).
- Media services need the integration of applications (metadata) and the systems that contain/generate the media files (iPaaS).
- Media assets have a number of associated files (tracks, proxies, etc.), which the STaaS should group into visible and operational objects in a multi-site environment, beyond storing them individually.
- Media applications must be efficient in the cloud (SaaS), including automatic scalability and resilience.
Given the collaborative nature of the media industry, remote production has a positive impact on business processes, although M&E companies also need to maintain business continuity. Moving from an on-premise production environment to the cloud is not trivial and the benefits, the impact on people and the investments must be assessed. A good approach is the Hybrid Cloud, which combines on-premise and cloud media services, with the company in control of its migration strategy, aligned with its needs and available resources.
Business agility is defined as the quality that enables a company to adopt operational and market changes simply and routinely. Never in the history of the M&E market has business agility been more important, enabling companies to monitor process changes and quickly adapt the customer experience improvement strategy. A Cloud Media Integration Platform is ideal for implementing business agility, enabling new services and processes to be rapidly modified, deployed and integrated.
The technology must be portable, but relying on a specific vendor feature will limit business and technical freedom. A Media Integration Platform frees customers from these dependencies because it facilitates the interoperability of applications, which are directly integrated with the platform and share a common workspace.
Agile has become a buzzword in the enterprise technology world. When creating a digital strategy, we cannot overlook the speed at which it can be implemented, and new innovations can be adopted. Being bold and agile with respect to digital innovations has proven time and time again to provide a significant economic advantage for companies that do so successfully.
This new reality also brings us to the decision facing C-suite M&E executives: continue to fight fires with short-term solutions or start building a unified approach, based on a Cloud Media Integration Platform, that uses a set of common, shared technology components that act as a nexus to tie everything together? We know which option we’d choose.