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Clouding the Issue

By Simen K. Frostad, Chairman

Published in InBroadcast, May 2014



One of the predominant industry themes in 2013 was the Race to the Cloud, and NAB 2014 provided a window on to the many different directions manufacturers are taking. The industry is now in a cloud-frenzy, and without some kind of cloud-strategy and offering, a manufacturer risks being seen as falling behind.

These frenzies are dangerous. Rational, well-considered, product development can be left behind in the rush to grab a piece of the action – or at least to create the impression of a cloud offering. And as the name should constantly remind us, ‘the cloud’ is a difficult thing to pin down. Ideas about what it is and how it can be used to best effect are often imprecise. Wishful thinking abounds.

In an attempt to get on the bandwagon, manufacturers can be tempted to develop products that use the cloud but without necessarily using it in the most efficient and appropriate way. Unwary buyers can get sucked into this all too easily, and could end up tied in to a cloud-based implementation that fails to deliver the real potential of true cloud computing.

Renting a virtualised, cloud-hosted implementation of a software application – instead of running it in-house – may seem like a progressive move, but buyers going down this route should realise that it can make many of the cloud’s greatest potential benefits difficult to achieve.

Content storage in the cloud is another superficially attractive idea that can turn out to be flawed in practice. And any attempt to run time-critical operations in the cloud is almost certainly doomed to failure.

Grass Valley’s new GV Stratus Playout is an example of a cloud-based product that avoids these mistakes. It makes superb use of cloud computing to do what the cloud does best, and uses clever compact hardware at the edge to do what the cloud isn’t good at. The complementary abilities of the two components make a powerful whole that delivers all the potential the cloud offers, and could well reshape the way most broadcasters manage and play out their networks. But this isn’t a product developed overnight in a rush to meet the demands of buyers who want to get all cloudy: it’s been very carefully thought-through over years, with hardware and software purpose-designed from the ground up, and clear thinking about what the cloud really offers to media providers.

The balance between SaaS (Software as a Service) and in-house capability is important, and it can deliver more powerful, scalable solutions than misguided attempts to transfer everything to the cloud. Getting your head into the cloud doesn’t mean you can’t have your feet on the ground.

Read the article online, In Broadcast


 


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