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Why businesses are turning to the cloud for media management

(Image credit: Image Credit: Melpomene / Shutterstock)

Despite it being more than a decade since the concept of ‘cloud-computing’ was first introduced, businesses are only just beginning to embrace this technology. Concerns about privacy, security and potential data leaks have slowed the rate of adoption, but that’s beginning to change as businesses begin to realise cloud’s benefits. Consequently, it is becoming an essential part of modern-day business infrastructure with 42 per cent of UK businesses using some form of cloud service. Its use is becoming particularly prevalent within the world of media management as organisations get to grips with the critical role cloud plays in managing, storing and sharing content. As businesses contend with the growing demand for video and new forms of digital content, cloud will play an increasingly important role.

Resolving legacy issues

Prior to modern cloud infrastructure, video presented an awkward paradox – large, cumbersome files that, once edited, needed to be delivered seamlessly and in as close to real-time as possible. This was extremely challenging – and often impossible. Even large media organisations struggled to deploy competent internal management tools. Terabytes of video files were dumped into existing local storage which usually resulted in a lack of organisation and acute network congestion.

Then came the difficulty of serving the content, where a sudden string of viral video successes can rocket server demand from near zero to millions of concurrent users demanding multi-megabyte streams immediately. The adoption of cloud-based media management platforms means most of these logistical challenges can be quickly overcome.

Standards and security

Standards will always be a concern for enterprises, whether from an interoperability point of view or from a data security and privacy standpoint. Therefore, it is vital that transparent policies and underlying technical standards are in place for due diligence purposes. Video cloud solutions that comply with globally recognised standards, such as ISO 27001 and ISO 9001, have been instrumental in overcoming adoption barriers.

While data privacy and security expectations have also been significantly upgraded in Europe by the implementation of General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR), the fact is that expectations around the handling of personal data have been on the rise for some time. Best practice safeguarding around video footage of children, for example, is no longer an option. It relies on effective tagging and referencing of content at a very granular level, a challenge that is significantly harder if it is not centrally enforced by robust and transparent policies. Creating and enforcing such guidelines is much easier in a centralised cloud environment than in a variety of workflows scattered across multiple jurisdictions.

It's worth highlighting that using the cloud doesn’t automatically make data more secure or compliant. It’s actually the software being used in the cloud that the security pertains to. Cloud-based software security should be designed from the ground up with accessibility based on detailed hierarchies of permissions. For instance, when using a cloud-based content management platform, organisations can set specific permissions for each user, ensuring that the rights to view, download or edit content are assigned on a case by case basis. This ensures that content can only be accessed by the right people and it’s clear what permissions each user has and what they’ve done with the content. This helps businesses strike the right balance between security and accessibility.

In addition, sharing video content between globally-distributed internal departments is now a matter of forwarding a secure text link, not a multi-gigabyte folder. This means that businesses can quickly share content with employees no matter where they are in the world. Also, there is no chance of running out of storage space or delivery bandwidth in a cloud environment either, so the days of frantically phoning IT to spin up another server are long gone.

Changing content consumption

The cloud has completely changed the way we engage with and consume content. It makes the process of downloading files or streaming videos faster and more seamless than it has ever been before. Just take Netflix, for example, which allows consumers to choose from hundreds of films and TV shows and stream them on any compatible device. This is all thanks to cloud infrastructure. Enterprises that manage digital media will also see these benefits, enabling them to upload, download and share assets in a much more streamlined and efficient way. However, while the organisations themselves will see the benefits of using the cloud in their everyday working lives, this is something that should be invisible to the end-user who shouldn’t see a direct impact from its use. The cloud is so seamless that consumers shouldn’t notice it at all.

A cost-efficient solution

As cloud negates the need for on-site server management, it removes the need for additional infrastructure such as stable power, air conditioning and physical security, which helps to reduce costs and risk. Often, a barrier to cloud adoption is the idea that a business has significantly invested in hardware or servers and they don’t want to spend more money on a solution that renders their existing setup obsolete. While that’s an understandable consideration, moving to the cloud can be a cost-effective solution and an operating expense rather than capital expense, meaning total lifetime costs do not need to be absorbed upfront.

Additionally, hardware, unlike cloud infrastructure, is a local investment. The equipment doesn’t last forever and always has a shelf-life, after which it will either need to be repaired or replaced at an extra cost. Conversely, cloud breaks the dreaded cycle of upgrading physical infrastructure and allows businesses to use what they need, offering the ability to expand and contract as the organisation requires. This means that businesses only incur extra costs when they need more storage, for instance, rather than owing to equipment failing or becoming outdated.

Cloud adoption is set to accelerate, with 83 per cent of enterprise workloads expected to be in the cloud by 2020. When you consider the benefits of cloud, this hardly seems surprising. Not only does cloud significantly reduce operational expenditure, but it is also infinitely more flexible and adaptable than traditional hardware, which is critical as organisations deal with growing volumes of video content. Once misconceptions and concerns regarding security are cast aside, businesses will see the value of adopting this future-proofed infrastructure and reap the rewards it promises.

Tim Jobling, CTO, Imagen

Tim Jobling is Chief Technology Officer at Imagen. For over two decades Tim has driven innovation in online delivery of the world’s most valuable media content.