CTOs discuss the pain points surrounding the adoption of cloud and IP-based technologies at their facilities and how to address regional challenges The CTOs discussed the role of cloud and whether IP is a replacement for SDI. How will cloud services empower broadcasters? What services, possibilities and opportunities are available on the cloud? The panel […]
The CTOs discussed the role of cloud and whether IP is a replacement for SDI. How will cloud services empower broadcasters? What services, possibilities and opportunities are available on the cloud?
The panel agreed that the real power that cloud brings to this industry is flexibility. Dominic Baillie of Sky News Arabia commented on the capability of the cloud to unleash a completely new way of viewing content. Rather than using it to replace existing infrastructure, broadcasters should use the cloud to leverage solutions that cannot be achieved on traditional media.
Broadcast products in a cloud should be looking at how to do TV as a web offering in cloud. How do you make content viewing more of an experience to people? Cloud is a great tool for niche channels, it offers flexibility to customise channels, he said.
For web players such as Icflix, cloud offers the elasticity to scale up or down operations based on demand.
David Irvine of Icflix commented: We use cloud as a service that enables us to scale up transcoding operations, for example to deal with peak demands. Cloud bypasses long-term commitment, and its true value lies in the flexibility that it brings.”
Mark Billinge of OSN pointed out that cloud should not be seen as a technology solution, but as an enabler to provide more efficient service and better customer experience. He added that cloud is the tool of choice for live streaming on digital platforms. Broadcasters should consider disaster recovery another way of leveraging the cloud, as in the next 12 to 18 months cloud technology will be more widely available.
Miljenko Logozar of Al Jazeera said that broadcasters are building today what will run for the next ten years. The broadcast industry is experiencing a paradigm shift, with business models shifting to digital. Advertisers are being drawn to the digital domain, and if traditional players dont evolve, they will be out of business.
Cloud is a marketing terminology. In the next few years, everything will be service-based instead of being product-based. Everything in Al Jazeera is running as a service now and the results have been very good. With new developments in technology, we cannot change the headends but we can change the infrastructure that leads to them, he said.
It is not a secret that in the future, everything will be in the web domain, with pay-as-you-go models gaining traction, thereby saving capex. This is the model that new-age players follow and which conventional players will eventually adopt as well.
We take technology services as a commodity. If we need to use metrics from a user, we write a metrics storage tool. We can buy off-the-shelf or pay-per-gigabyte services. We dont need to know where or how data is stored, all we care about is that we get it when we need it, Irvine pointed out.
Digital platforms are all about building user experiences that go beyond just streaming or owning a robust content library; they’re about giving the viewers what they want, when they want it. Customising content based on user profiles is what OTT companies are cashing in on.
Logozar said that the infrastructure to build these services is already there and its just a matter of when and how broadcasters use it to their advantage. For instance, Google has 64 big data centres around the world and boasts the most extensive ocean fibre network globally.
I foresee the next five years as a critical period in developing software to configure major operational workflows that we have today, he said.
Dr Naser chipped in to say that Rotana will have its private local cloud ready by Q1 of 2016. We will not go all the way to hybrid just yet, but plan to have virtualised infrastructure based on blade servers and gradually move into a managed public cloud such as Amazon.
Baillie interjected to say that the real advantage of the cloud is in building a new architecture that doesnt merely replicate the traditional systems or replace the existing hardware with software. Replacing SDI with IP gives only operational efficiencies.
New media is giving rise to new business models, Logozar commented, which has forced conventional players to update their skill-set and equipment to keep in step with the change.
He gave the example of Al Jazeera investing in 10 ENG cameras recently and buying 1,500 GoPros at the same time to equip its journalists with new-age tools. Before we know it, all the money we are spending on SDI and IP routers will soon be moved to IT equipment. Change is coming faster than we expected, he said.
Billinge mentioned that its not all web; broadcasters continue to make big investments in high-end TV production, and statistics show that people are watching more TV than ever before.
Bhatti pointed out that the rate of adoption of digital platforms will only increase with players such as Starz Play, Netflix, HBO and Amazon entering the market. Does this spell the end of linear TV?
Are we ready to face the 800-pound gorilla in the room? he said, asking the panellists about the impending entry of Netflix and HBO to the region.
Billinge said that satellite will stay strong in the market for at least the next five years, giving room for both traditional and OTT players to coexist.
Baillie added that the bottom line is to make the content more interesting by offering a user experience thats interactive and relevant. Are traditional players offering compelling services that make their content exclusive and one-of-a-kind? A hybrid model that integrates social media with TV may have an answer to that, and thats where the role of the cloud becomes compelling.
The panel concluded that broadcasting is undergoing a change, a rather revolutionary change. The secret to survival in this highly competitive world is to embrace the change and give the viewers a better quality and experience.