Production in the Cloud Growing, But Still Poses Challenges

Western Digital global director of M&E marketing Erik Weaver introduced production in the cloud by relaying his experiences producing “Wonder Buffalo” at USC’s Entertainment Technology Center. The production included volumetric capture and photogrammetry in a VR pipeline in a cloud-based workflow, including the C4 identification system to track assets. During a panel this week at NAB 2019, Equinix, Google and Wasabi execs described their cloud-based solutions, and a client from Technicolor described the pitfalls of a cloud service.

Google M&E cloud solutions architect Adrian Graham noted, “media production is an increasingly global enterprise. Studios need to be able to open up wherever the incentives are.” A movie like “Avengers: Infinity War,” which had 3,000 VFX shots, can’t be done on-prem or at one facility.

To move to the cloud, the user has to consider brokering (connecting users to the resources assigned to them), how to stream data and view the desktop, provisioning resources, storage, and securing infrastructure. He reported that TPN (Trusted Partner Network) will provide a method for cloud services to gain certification.

From Equinix, principal product manager Kevin Kim described his company’s ability to enable multi-hybrid cloud workflows via the Equinix Cloud Exchange Fabric (ECX Fabric). Now, the company is unveiling Equinix Edge Services for network edge computing for such applications as IoT. Egress charges, he added, are “extremely low” since the company has so many providers.

When 5G arrives, this service “could help tremendously in remote locations.” Equinix SmartKey provides cloud-ready encryption, key management and tokenization as a service.

Wasabi Technologies head of product Jim Donovan described his company’s mission as “low price, high performance, secure object storage-as-a-service.” Donovan notes, “Our pricing is disruptive. We charge a flat fee of $.0059 per GB/month or $5.99 per TB/month with no charge for egress or API requests.” Its “highly distributed architecture provides Exabyte-scale-storage,” he added. “All data is encrypted at rest and integrity-checked every 90 days.”

He also announced the launch of the Media Innovation Cloud Alliance. “The challenge of working with independent vendors is to make sure they work together. We want to make it possible to leverage the power of these vendors without paying a penalty.”

Technicolor chief technology officer Bob Eicholz started by saying he uses these cloud services. “I’m excited about cloud,” he said. “We’d like to eliminate a lot of the hardware we have and be creative … global cloud collaboration is well underway.” But, he added, “the reality is that the cloud can cause massive cost escalations.” He asked cloud providers to “partner with us to implement new cost management systems.”

“In the past, we were limited by capacity of on-prem architecture,” he said. “In the cloud, if you don’t manage it appropriately — which is difficult to do — your costs can blow your budget.”

Technicolor is already working with Google and other vendors to implement intelligent project cost allocation and build interfaces to common financial systems. But Eicholz also suggested that cloud vendors co-locate with clients so at least some tasks can run over a cable.