September 20, 2018
The public cloud is significantly impacting media by moving information technology into a world of utility where compute and storage are available as needed — easy to implement and decommission. It provides a flexible infrastructure for a media-centric world increasingly based on analytics where experimentation is the foundation of digital transformation. The media industry is changing — from the way content is produced and managed to the methods used to protect, optimize, distribute and analyze that content. These changes to the value chain have created enormous pressures (and opportunities) for creative professionals.
Organizations big and small have adopted the public cloud for analytics to address multiple business needs. Convenient: yes. Flexible: yes. Inexpensive: it depends. Secure: we should talk.
The Accelerated Digitization of the Media Value Chain
Technology has enabled almost every aspect of how we live to become increasingly digitized. It is not surprising that the social desire to connect more directly, efficiently and powerfully is also impacting the media industry. But the acceleration of this seemingly obvious trend is having a massive impact on the media industry and fundamentally altering the way we interact with media, both as consumers and as content creators.
At its simplest, content creators are more connected with the business (or monetization) side, causing the two previously separate components to be inexorably linked, and providing the opportunity for a more interactive, powerful and efficient connection at every step from creation to consumption.
Media Analytics – Viewer Analytics vs. Content Analytics
Digital technology is creating fascinating opportunities for measuring and analyzing content. Organizations now have the opportunity to use metadata analytics to examine why, when and how consumers enjoy media. By incorporating immediate feedback into the content creation process, producers can tailor their output to consumer needs, likes and trends.
However, these analytics happen after the fact and don’t allow for understanding of some of the true cost generators of in-house processes.
Let’s consider the analytics workflow and how to choose an optimized infrastructure. The public cloud and on-premises storage both have many attributes.
The reason that many companies use the public cloud is to be able to spin up a massive number of compute cores to run a job and then decommission it after the job to avoid the capital cost if done on-premises. The toolset available in the public cloud can also be a compelling reason to use those facilities. Lastly, the unstructured data that underlies many analytics workloads is often put in the public cloud for lack of a local alternative.
The case for on-premises analytics of media content is the ability to control the environment, including security, get predictable performance, as well as move and store data without incurring charges.
How to Approach Hybrid Cloud Media Analytics Workflow
Consider a hybrid approach where you can take advantage of the strengths of understanding your viewer’s behavior as well as how your content is being generated and how it flows through the production chain to where business processes commence. Start with your media. You want to control this media, and you may realize that you can reference media through more than one analytics job, even combine assets from one production with the production flow and business use case of similar or separate productions and syndication models. You may also have massive historic data sets that you may want to access for predictive models.
Continuously storing media and egressing it from the public cloud is expensive. A more cost-efficient approach is to have the bulk of your media stored on premises in a highly scalable, low cost object-based system. This is a great foundation for unstructured data that can already “speak cloud” for a seamless hybrid cloud configuration.
In other words, you can leverage analytics both to optimize the workflow AND to learn what part of your media is required for distribution and replication in a cloud layer. Predictive models allow for a more in-depth review of existing assets and can engender both cost-savings and help producers with launch cycles and deadlines.
In running analytics and comparing them with direct viewer feedback, you learn what media is essential and what parts of your workflow may be redundant. Replicate only the data you need from your on-premises system to the public cloud, and bring back the results only, not the raw data itself. This architectural approach will significantly reduce ongoing costs. In some use cases, such as Western Digital’s analytics workflow, it can save your company millions of dollars.
This video presentation describes how the ActiveScale system is an appropriate fit for enabling a hybrid cloud analytics workflow. The ActiveScale cloud object storage system allows you to replicate buckets in your local system to Amazon AWS where you can spin up compute, analytics tools and storage as needed. Send the results back to your on-premises ActiveScale and delete the data bucket in AWS. In this way you take advantage of the resources in AWS, retain control of the raw data, you get the results of the analytics job, and avoid high export fees of AWS.
Data can be synchronized from a single GEO or a 3-GEO configuration and enabled on a bucket level so you can balance the right combination of data copies on-premises and in public storage, and take advantage of extreme data durability.
Hybrid Cloud Can Improve Your Media Analytics Workflow
The right balance of on-premises and pubic cloud storage should be a conscious decision based on your data strategy. Understanding what data you want to keep and for how long is important. Understanding that you can build a data-forever architecture at lower costs should be part of that equation as well as how much active data you have and how you expect to use it. Think 3-5 years forward and how you can extract more value from your data.
These questions and scenarios can help you decide the right balance of local and public storage. Hybrid cloud architectures can improve your analytics workflow and help you garner more value from your data.
This is only a brief overview of the potential and capabilities of leveraging hybrid cloud for media workflows. For more details, contact: Erik Weaver at HGST, a Western Digital Company (mobile: 213-949-2016).