Content Management Moves to the Cloud: Sony has a View

Along with almost every other part of the production to delivery chain content management solutions are being reworked in the cloud. What does this mean for broadcasters or large content owners and is such a solution suitable for every client for every occasion? MAM vendors provide their views, here from Head of IT & Workflow Solutions at Sony Professional Solutions Europe, Niall Duffy.

The Broadcast Bridge:  More and more aspects of production and delivery are being moved to cloud networks. Why would you advocate content management to follow suit?

Sony:  Two parts to this; firstly there is an inexorable move towards cloud for broadcast applications, and content management will follow this in the same way that others do. A second but more specific reason is that content management tends to be about collaboration, and that is an underlying and fundamental strength of cloud (public, private or hybrid). Coupled with either the need for people being in different locations, or offering the potential for people being in different locations, content management is one of the most ideal candidates for cloud deployment. This is why there are so many cloud based content management solutions

The Broadcast Bridge:  Are there any downsides to cloud content management or reasons why this may not necessarily work in every case?

Sony:  The greatest danger of cloud is not the technology but the design of the solution. It should not simply be moving a content management system off an on-premise server to a VM on a cloud – you need to work out how workflows are maintained and ideally improved, and how risks, such as connectivity disruption, latency or even end user contention (lots of people using consumer wifi networks) are managed. I think we will see more applications becoming more ‘cloud native’ that is, re-designed and re-developed both to take full advantage of cloud infrastructure (i.e. Accessing genuine elastic infrastructure) but also dealing with the different underlying characteristics of web infrastructure (i.e. Fault tolerance particularly on connectivity or resource failure).

The Broadcast Bridge:  With multiple delivery channels and devices, programme rights are increasingly complicated. If you don’t have the rights, or if you don’t know what rights you have, then you don’t have the content. What is the media management solution?

Sony:  This is seen as getting increasingly complex and complicated and of course this is often associated with more complex software. There has long been a discussion on putting more content management capability into rights management systems or vice versa. However rights managers have different needs than content operators and there is typically an issue with various different metadata models for rights rather than content (which might be orthogonal, e.g. The concept of a rights version is not the same as the concept of a content version). The right answer is probably in trying to make things as simple as possible and not try to deal with every edge case. In many cases it may be simpler, faster and cheaper to put in place systems that assume everything is simple, and just let humans deal with the violations. Two people running a rights spreadsheet will be a better solution than a £20m failed IT project…

The Broadcast Bridge:  Outside of rights: how can an asset management platform help content owners' leverage metadata to maximise revenue or open new monetization opportunities?

Sony:  Through optimising the workflow, not just in terms of process efficiency but in terms of providing analytics on the entire process. We need to move away from the concept that there is a huge value or monetisation opportunity in archives – there are very little and archive focused content management systems are not going to open up huge new revenues. There may be incremental or non-financial benefits (I.e. More on screen variety) but the real benefit of content management, when coupled with operations management (i.e. Orchestration, workflow automation, analytics) is in providing a scalable, efficient and agile supply chain that can support multiple platforms and multiple different business objectives.

The Broadcast Bridge:  What is the best way of assessing return on investment in a MAM solution?

Sony:  Don’t bother as there is no ROI on a MAM solution in itself. A MAM is a ‘pain reliever’ not a ‘gain creator’ and displaces an existing cost, and in many cases may increase it. MAM is now a mandatory component of a workflow and as such there will be increased pressure to drive down its cost. Where ROI becomes more important is looking at the end to end processes and understanding where there is scope for improved efficiency throughout. This is what we call Media Operations Management, of which MAM is just one component. The real cost saving in any modern media operation comes from lowering the cost of processing content (not storing content) and that either means fewer people pushing content through the supply chain, or lowering transactional costs of processing – this latter area is where cloud becomes very important with the most obvious example being cloud based transcoding rather than having to invest in peak capacity for on-premise transcoders.

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