NoCode iPaaS for Media: Next Generation Integration Tools
By Emilio L. Zapata, founder Tedial
Over the last two decades media asset management systems (MAMs) have facilitated the creation of media supply chain platforms, which play a key role in the digital transformation of the industry. To improve business agility the integration components of many MAMs were separated into a specific service for the design and orchestration of content production and distribution workflows. There are many orchestrators available on the market, although there are significant differences in functionality between the different products offered by providers.
In recent years business opportunities with tier-1 customers in the M&E market have multiplied for MAM providers. These contracts, however, have forced providers to implement major changes in their product roadmap to meet customer demands. Too often, this approach to business development made providers dependent on only a few major customers which in turn inhibited research and development and suppressed their expectations for business growth.
This drought in new functionalities, flexibilities and scalable products frustrated many customers and drove them to opt for either costly in-house developments, or a stake in suppliers’ companies so they could control or influence the product roadmap. These two alternatives, however, also present their own set of challenges. Being totally reliant on an internal development team could minimize innovation. Or in the case of a stakeholder scenario, the customer could become completely dependent on a single provider, which in many cases leads to dependence on a single cloud provider, seriously limiting the business’ growth capabilities. The sad consequence of this is that both customers and providers are dissatisfied.
Point to Point Integration
If we identify the roots of the problem, we can make a correct diagnosis and propose a solution. From our point of view, the problem is structural to all MAMs, including those developed “in house” or participated by customers. The problem lies in the point-to-point integration architecture of the orchestrators, which are the basis of the media supply chain platforms. We refer to the direct connection between applications. The calling application must know the exact address of the invoking application and the parameters and/or media files to be passed.
Colloquially, this point-to-point integration architecture is very similar to Microsoft’s historic and popular DirectShow, used for the integration of capture and signal processing hardware in Windows. Each box has a number of pins associated with the input and output variables needed to perform the function, with the designer being responsible for the connection between boxes. Changing the position of a box in the workflow involves reordering and reprogramming the connections, as long as the box is compatible with its new neighbouring boxes.
The point-to-point integration architecture forms “tightly coupled” connections between components, resulting in a loss of agility. Here are some of its limitations:
- Rigid solution that only provides direct integration between systems and complicates the addition or replacement of applications or systems.
- Changes are often out of the customer’s control and in the hands of the supplier, both in terms of service and price.
- Keeping integration connectors (boxes) up to date consumes valuable financial and development resources.
- Security risks can arise with patch updates and become incompatible with connections.
- Complex integration architectures are prone to failures and can present stability problems.
- The duration of projects is excessive and given the rigidity of the solution there are always breaches.
In short, an infrastructure based on point-to-point integration quickly becomes unmanageable, fragile and damaging to both the IT budget and the M&E organisation’s ability to meet current and changing business demands (continuous digital transformation). As a result, today’s orchestrators need to move away from the point-to-point integration model in order for M&E organisations to substantially reduce TCO and improve ROI, customer experience and business agility.
Cloud Media Integration Platform
The M&E market will increasingly be dominated by software defined workflows and the cloud, benefiting from developments of the rest of the IT market. How has the IT market solved the problem of application integration? By changing the integration paradigm and developing new tools that simplify application integration, facilitating continuous digital transformation. Initially integrations were done with Enterprise Service Buses, nowadays with cloud integration Platforms as a Service (iPaaS). There are more than a hundred iPaaS solutions on the market. On the other hand, the development of low/no code applications has become widespread, allowing business users to autonomously design the solutions/workflows they need without having to resort to the IT team or providers. A good number of iPaaS solutions are designed with the low/no code paradigm in mind.
Therefore, the M&E market needs a new generation of integration tools to ensure a continuous digital transformation, removing the barriers and inefficiencies of today’s integration orchestrators. Before developing the new integration tools, we should analyse the suitability of existing iPaaS solutions. Unfortunately, the result to this analysis is negative because the existing solutions are oriented towards the integration of metadata between applications and lack the functionality to integrate applications that produce, transform, analyse and distribute media files, along with their metadata.
The implementation of software defined workflows requires the design of an “NoCode iPaaS for media”, which handles media file and metadata integrations between applications. In addition, it is essential to provide a common workspace to minimise the movement of media files between applications, with the applications going to the media and not the other way around.
From the perspective of M&E companies, a Cloud Media Integration Platform (“NoCode iPaaS for media”) is a plug-and-play solution that enables advanced monitoring and management of processes and tasks, as well as the ability to evolve the designed solution without dependency issues with providers. For example, if you want to incorporate a new application/system into the company’s software defined workflows, you only have to worry about verifying that the application/system performs the required functionality and is correctly integrated with the platform. There are no point-to-point connections, ensuring business agility.
The cycle of unfulfilled expectations needs to be broken so customers can look forward to positive technological innovations and business advances. The answer lies in the design of a new generation of integration tools that facilitate the simple design and modification of software defined workflows and that allow business people to freely choose the best applications to develop their creative work. As a result, many customers would abandon costly in-house projects because the new tools would facilitate continuous digital transformation, business agility, a clear reduction to TCO and an increase in ROI for M&E companies.
It is clear to us that we have to learn from the solutions and experience provided by the IT market (iPaaS) and, as MAM’s provider, contribute to the development of the new generation of media application integration tools in a cloud environment (private, public or hybrid). Our industry is urgently demanding a Cloud Media Integration Platform (“NoCode iPaaS for media”). This is the challenge.