The Digital Delivery Dilemma: How to strike the Right Balance between Dedicated Infrastructure and Cloud

The rise of Over the Top (OTT) video, multiscreen viewing and TV everywhere has catapulted TV and video production and distribution into a period of disruptive change. To capitalize on the market’s new opportunities, content owners, producers and broadcasters, and the service providers who support them are looking at new ways to create, store, manage and distribute TV and digital video content. In particular, they're starting to adopt end-to-end IP workflows and cloud and software-based services to stay relevant and competitive.

However, determining how fast and how far to move into the cloud is a complex endeavor, and media companies must consider many aspects before taking the leap.

A Dedicated Model

The growing rate of cloud adoption unveils new concerns for the industry, bringing security to the forefront. As such, there many media players, like multi-system operators (MSOs,) that are still using a dedicated IT model. In a recent report from Interxion and IDG Connect, information security was the predominant factor driving IT decision makers to keep their workloads within their own data centers (53%) followed by data protection and governance rules (41%). Security was a recurring topic during the ‘Media Management In The Cloud’ conference at NAB recently.

A dedicated model has its benefits for some players: the larger the media company, the more likely it is they can capitalize on existing infrastructure and IT resources, maximizing ROI assets. Plus, their scale keeps the cost of purchasing commodity hardware down.

A Case for Cloud

That said, moving to a cloud model produces scalability, flexibility and cost-reduction benefits that aren’t easily achieved from a dedicated environment. For example, Aframe’s secure private cloud video production platform is helping Fox Sports streamline the entire production workflow as well as sports and news collection, ultimately giving Fox a mover-first advantage in broadcasting breaking sports news and insider content.

A cloud model is crucial when handling variability in demand. The recent mishap involving SlingTV, which failed a major stress test during the NCAA Final Four competition – producing choppy, error-ridden or non-existent streams – highlights the need for an IaaS or SaaS solution, which can provide scalability capacity to endure sporadic, exponential demand but at a low investment.

Harmony with Hybrid IT

As mentioned, the security benefits from a dedicated environment and flexibility of cloud are influencing media companies to pursue a hybrid IT model, which blends both approaches. Last year, NBC adopted Microsoft Azure and iStreamPlanet's live streaming services to deliver coverage of the Sochi Winter Olympics. This deployment forecasts growing industry perception: in three to five years, most media providers will have some part of their operation in the cloud and use a mix of on-premise, hosted private cloud and public cloud.

However, building a hybrid IT model will not happen overnight. Similar to the considerations media enterprises make around a pure-play cloud or dedicated environment, getting the balance right requires careful attention of the cost-effectiveness of infrastructure and content security, as well as the interoperability of different infrastructures, platforms and services at play. After all, a mixed dedicated infrastructure, private cloud and public cloud, and IaaS, PaaS and SaaS offerings, is bound to create complexities!

One key to hybrid IT success, among others, is to ensure fast, reliable connectivity to and between cloud providers – ideally within a connectivity-rich third party data center. The industry is also heading towards establishing more standard application programming interfaces (APIs), which will better integrate applications from different providers across multiple cloud environments.

To find out more about what content owners, producers and broadcasters, and the service providers are doing to take advantage of hybrid IT, visit the in-depth article published on