It seems surprising that over a decade after the words ‘cloud-computing’ were first uttered, businesses are only just fully immersing themselves in what is a relatively ‘old’ technology, with 42% of UK businesses using some form of cloud service. However, it’s understandable that concerns around privacy, security and potential data leaks have slowed the rate of adoption even in the world of media management; until now. As the cloud becomes an acceptable and essential part of modern-day business infrastructure, those managing digital media are finally starting to understand the critical role it plays in managing and sharing content. As the demand for video and new forms of digital content continue to grow, the cloud has a critical role to play if organisations are going to keep up.
Legacy challenges resolved
Before 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.
Cloud negates the need for on-site server management and therefore 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.
Unlike cloud infrastructure, hardware 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. Cloud, however, breaks the dreaded cycle of upgrading physical infrastructure that so many enterprises have experienced on a semi-regular basis. The cloud allows businesses to use what they need and can 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.
Policy policing made easy
Standards will always be a concern for enterprises, whether from an interoperability point of view or from a data security and privacy standpoint. So, it is essential 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.
Engaging with content
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.
Ultimately, as more businesses identify the benefits of cloud services, particularly in terms of media management, we will see its adoption continue to increase with 83% of enterprise workloads expected to be in the cloud by 2020. Cloud not only significantly reduces operational expenditure, but it is also an infinitely more flexible and adaptable solution which is paramount as organisations deal with growing volumes of video content. Once organisations look beyond any initial security concerns, they will see it is a more future-proofed infrastructure that allows them to more easily comply with standards and regulations.