XenData Azure Hybrid Cloud
The cloud might help broadcasters that need access from multiple locations. It solves the problem of securing access and enabling it from different sites. It also helps them to offer the streaming services needed for non-linear playout due to the scalability and elasticity of the streaming service platforms. But to what extent is migration of cloud storage happening today and what applications are already seeing benefit? We invited XenData for their view and CEO Phil Storey replied.
To what extent can storage be virtualized in the cloud today?
PS: At Xendata we believe data storage of all types can be easily created in the cloud. This ranges from high performance disks attached to virtual machines to highly scalable object storage.
How does on-premise storage compare with off-premise public cloud and a hybrid model?
PS: Relative to on-premise storage, public cloud offers infinite scalability, the ability to implement strong redundancy – all with minimal management overhead. Of course, when moving content between on-premise and cloud, the transfer rates are limited by the available bandwidth of the connection to the cloud. Hybrid cloud often offers the best of all options because it allows frequently accessed content to be retained on-premise, which to some extent overcomes the transfer rate limitations. It also minimizes downloads from the cloud and this can significantly reduce operating costs.
What reservations do broadcasters and operators have around using public cloud storage…and are these reservations justified?
PS: Data security is often a reservation. One vendor, Microsoft, has overcome this concern by using its Azure Storage Service Encryption (SSE) for Data at Rest. With this feature, Azure Storage can automatically encrypt data prior to continuing to storage and decrypts it just before retrieval. The encryption, decryption, and key management are completely transparent to users.
To what extent can cloud storage be virtualized in isolation from other core processing functions like ingest, playout, graphics and QA, encoding, statistical multiplexing, content protection?
PS: It is certainly possible to maintain all functions on premise while moving archive storage to the cloud. This can be implemented using a Cloud File Gateway running on-premise. It allows files to be uploaded to and downloaded from the cloud as though they are held locally on a giant network attached storage (NAS) device. This approach has the advantage of strong data protection for your digital assets because they are instantly stored offsite in your cloud provider’s data center with redundant copies created automatically.
Where are the main costs and what is the best practice for broadcasters, operators to reduce op-ex on upload and download from the cloud?
PS: The main costs are for monthly capacity - which is the number of TB stored in the cloud, for uploads and for downloads. Download costs are expensive per TB and can skyrocket. This is a good reason to go for a hybrid approach with the most frequently accessed data also held on-premise.
What changes in practice does cloud storage migration mean for in-house engineering/operations teams?
PS: Cloud storage means that maintenance of storage systems is outsourced to the cloud provider, which allows in-house staff to focus on other tasks.
How easy is it to swap cloud vendors once you have virtualized core video processing or playout functions to them?
PS: If you decide to move to a different cloud vendor, a major consideration is the cost of downloading your content. There is no easy way round this if you move to a different vendor.
Are you thinking about using cloud storage in your workflow? Here are some recent articles The Broadcast Bridge has developed to help you better understand the technology and some options. Click on these links to learn more.
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