All Media to the Cloud

Tony Emerson
Media & Cable
CES has launched and the feeding frenzy of product announcements that come with it are out. While the focus is shifting subtly from TV’s to the internet of things, the emergence of UltraHD and connected devices still remains in the forefront. Perhaps this is a good time to step back and look at how far the Media Industry has come to embrace “all things cloud” in the last 12 months. It took only a few years for Netflix to morph from the largest user of the USPS to highest user of the internet (estimated at over a third of peak usage in the US). Today, any media company worth it’s PR rep has a strategy that embraces consumption anywhere, anytime on any device - but what is happening to actually make that possible (and economically feasible).
There are three key issues a media company has to confront as part of a broad digital transformation to cloud processing and delivery.
  1. Does the business possess the agility to deal with new ways of monetizing content and managing intellectual property rights across market segments (B2B and B2C) and geographies?
  2. Will the technical organization (whether IT or engineering) be ready to abandon the plethora of specialized hardware that was previously required to deliver multi- platform digital services and embrace standardized cloud services?
  3. Most important, are any key competitors or new entrants, not shackled by the restraints detailed in points 1 and 2 above, operating with different profit/ROI objectives and do they have the funding to stay the competitive course?
One key feature of cloud computing and particularly streaming media from the cloud is that the cost of entry has become extremely low and this is bringing all sorts of new competition into the market. One Microsoft Azure customer in Australia, Xpreshon, feeds the thirst for Xtreme sports videos and Movies while another, Dubai based Gem Online, has found a way to supplement its multi-language services satellite services by streaming to worldwide audiences on Azure.
Microsoft, with Windows Azure Media Services, has taken a very thoughtful program of providing end to end services to deliver ingest to playout capability, both for our largest customers (like NBC Sports Network) and for our partners (like deltatre, Axinom and others) to build on. These services open the field far beyond the traditional uses of the cloud for compute spiking, storage and virtualization to allowing companies to run their entire business in a cloud environment, from idea to delivery.
Taking Media to the Cloud is a mindset, not a defined set of tools and activities. The transformation of an organization to that mindset will take time but beware the organizations that lag and resist – some competitors and new entrants (many of them existing rights holders) don’t operate by the same rules!