Why Every Broadcaster Needs a Cloud Migration Strategy

By: Fran Howarth| - Leave a comment

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A cloud migration strategy is increasingly a must-have in many industries, and broadcasting is no exception. According to TVTechnology, broadcasters are embracing video content over IP-based software-defined networking (SDN), virtualized cloud processing and software-defined infrastructure (SDI). Traditionally, broadcasters have relied on proprietary “big iron” infrastructures made up of physical components such as audio/video switches, traditional editing suites and signal routers. Now, they’re migrating their entire production operations — from editing and play-out to distribution and storage — to the cloud.

Incorporating SDN Into a Cloud Migration Strategy

Traditional forms of broadcast production and play-out can be prohibitively expensive, requiring purchase and maintenance of large volumes of proprietary hardware. With cloud-based systems, organizations can save significantly on infrastructure costs using a virtualized broadcast facility. SDN makes it possible to streamline operations and maintain agility, scalability and visibility. New services can be automated and orchestrated, dramatically reducing complexity and enabling high-speed provisioning to make it easier to capture new business opportunities and grow revenue streams.

Big-Name Broadcasters Buy In

Many of the best-known broadcasters are developing effective cloud migration strategies. Among them is the Disney ABC Television Group, which is moving its broadcast play-out, network and delivery infrastructure to the cloud, according to The Broadcast Bridge. The goal is to carry out its functions using general-purpose, IP-connected computers and eliminate the need to maintain and provision traditional master-control facilities. The group has implemented a real-time IP distribution system for their content.

Fox Networks is also actively experimenting with SDN, according to TVTechnology. The organization wants to spin new channels up or down using commercial off-the-shelf hardware and the cloud, achieving both greater agility and cost savings. Fox believes this step is necessary to stay competitive.

How Netflix Did Cloud Right

Another giant in the industry, Netflix, began developing its cloud migration strategy almost a decade ago. Originally a DVD-shipping service, the company experienced an outage caused by a major corruption of its database that prevented it from fulfilling its service to customers. This led the company to investigate the cloud as a more reliable, scalable way to provide services online.

As of January 2016, Netflix’s eight-year migration program is complete. The company claims it’s expanded its viewing figures threefold, which would have been extremely difficult if Netflix were trying to run its services out of its own data centers. Through the elasticity the cloud offers, the streaming service provider can add vast numbers of servers and huge storage capabilities within minutes, enabling it to quickly and reliably expand availability. Netflix’s cloud migration has also slashed costs per streaming event compared to when the company was offering services through its own data centers.

However, Netflix does point out that any cloud migration strategy requires careful planning and time — as shown by the eight years it took to carry out its own plan. While cloud services can be highly reliable, they can still experience failures. Netflix has avoided problems by building in high levels of redundancy to achieve its goal of near-perfect uptime. Having a clear migration strategy is essential and involves making many decisions regarding technology and service delivery.

Netflix’s ultimate goal is to become a cloud-native global TV network. To do this, new systems must be built and new skills learned. Without making those changes and simply migrating existing services to the cloud, the same problems and limitations associated with traditional data center deployments will remain.

Developing an effective cloud migration strategy takes time and effort, but the advantages are too great to ignore. The cloud is forcing many businesses to rethink how they deliver services. As users increasingly consume content online, a cloud-based broadcasting strategy just makes sense.

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About The Author

Fran Howarth

Freelance Writer

Fran Howarth is an industry analyst and writer specializing in cybersecurity. She has worked within the security technology sector for more than 25 years in an advisory capacity as an analyst, consultant and writer. Fran focuses on the business needs for security technologies, with a focus on emerging technology sectors. Current areas of focus include cloud security, data security, identity and access management, network and endpoint security, security intelligence and analytics and security governance and regulations. Fran can be reached at fhowarth@gmail.com.

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