Playout & Transmission Global Viewpoint – May 2020

Cloud Psychology

An abundance of remote solutions has been made available in recent months giving broadcasters more choice than ever. The operational need is clearly well defined and justified, so does this mean we’ve now turned the corner for cloud integration?

One of the main blockers I’ve come across when moving workflows to the cloud is not necessarily a technical one but is instead resistance based on, what I believe to be an irrational fear. Being able to see hardware seems to give us a sense of security, even though we can’t touch the product, and in many cases even go into the room where its operating, just knowing it’s there is enough to give a warm and glowing feeling.

We seem to have an obsession with control and having working hardware close to us helps facilitate that perception. But are we really in control if we can see and touch the hardware? Maybe we can fix it quickly if it breaks? As more broadcasters move to IP, they are quite rightly considering security more and more. I believe that moving to the cloud can significantly improve reliability, control and security.

Companies such as AWS, Microsoft and IBM have some of the best and brightest people in the world looking after the security of their systems and networks. The question is, what do you know about security that the brains and experience of these massive companies do not?

A similar argument goes for maintenance. Cloud vendors build their systems with monitoring, fault prediction and resilience at the beginning of the design process, not as a reluctant necessity further down the road. Consequently, they are able to predict many faults long before they happen, especially as they have a massive amount of analysis data to work with.

At this point I often use my “water wheel” analogy. For hundreds of years mill owners used the water wheel to power their mills. This system of providing power was generally reliable and well understood but had some shortfalls due to its physical limitations and was not very flexible. The discovery of electricity and the development of power stations and national grids soon provided an incredibly reliable and bountiful method of power supply for factories in the developing industrial revolutions of the 19th century.

I’m sure many would have kept to the water wheel had they not needed a more reliable and flexible source of power due to the demands of increased factory production. I believe, this is where cloud computing has been in recent years and just like the water wheels needed a catalyst to drive it to the next level. In the case of cloud computing the catalyst may well be remote operation driven by the necessity of the current lockdown, and beyond. Public cloud systems are incredibly flexible, can be scaled to meet demand, and are extremely resilient.

Just like the mill owners transitioning to electrical power, there was a great leap of faith and I see the same thing happening time again with public cloud systems. But it’s worth remembering that we have no more control over an on-prem datacenter than we do over a public cloud system, we just think we do.

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