Sunday, 2 May 2021

The Cloud can be Simple, Agile, and Secure for Broadcasters

At a time when production from anywhere is a must, those that create, distribute, and secure content needed to pivot overnight, adopting new tech and workflows. Back in the old days, the studio was the central repository for this content, but now that it needs to be securely shared online with teammates around the world who are working from their home offices, the challenges continue to mount.

Read More: 100-490: Supporting Cisco Routing and Switching Network Devices (RSTECH)

Now more than ever, high availability is needed for remote workers. This, along with fault tolerance and resiliency, are standards the media industry has long sought out when it comes to creating and managing content. The industry is faced with the need to transform and do it quickly, with content distribution using IP as the backbone and workloads like content creation and production in the cloud. The “new normal” will be a hybrid model that incorporates some work from anywhere combined with some on-premises activity. How do we accommodate this sudden shift in the way we do business?

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Cloud infrastructure has plenty of capacity but faces hurdles


The term “cloud” has become a ubiquitous word used throughout multiple industries and businesses around the world. It shouldn’t be surprising that broadcast and media enterprises are trying to leverage this common infrastructure for multiple workflows within their environment. However, the cloud can have many unique challenges for the media industry that make this transition a little more difficult to undertake.

Just move it to the cloud – sounds simple right? Everything these days is connected to the Internet through core routers in the data center (which are traditionally over-provisioned). However, it isn’t that easy. Groups like the Video Services Forum (VSF) semi-working group standards body, and the Society of Motion Picture and Television Engineers (SMPTE) are looking at solving problems over WAN infrastructure. For example, SMPTE 2110 is an attempt to move production to IP by breaking apart video, audio, and ancillary data to enable more flexible workflows. Now the problem with cloud infrastructure isn’t capacity but rather loss, jitter, and latency.

With real-time production, even the smallest of the aforementioned issues can have a large impact on content. This makes it unsurprising that the industry is starting to provide re-transmission mechanisms in video transport to allow a guarantee of transmission through cloud infrastructure. This has come through mechanisms such as Reliable Internet Stream Transport (RIST), a video protocol, and Secure Reliable Transport (SRT). With the reduction in cost and improvement of technology, large-scale distribution, processing, and other workflows can now be moved entirely to the cloud.

This migration from on-prem to the cloud can address agility and economy of scale. The infrastructure cloud provides can be more cost-effective for fulfilling spike workloads in an on-demand way. In the cloud, we treat everything as a resource pool that can be changed and re-provisioned as needed. This means we could use the same resources for ingest, transcode, playout, and others on an ad-hoc basis.

Agility is key in the “new normal”


Next to capital cost savings, this agility of workflows is the main reason for using the cloud. Agility also provides the ability to enable remote work when the ability to access physical infrastructure may be limited. This has been especially important during the recent health crisis. Media entities who were ahead of the game with cloud workflows had a head start on this. Some of these agile workflows can include media supply chain, from Media Asset Management (MAM) services, and beyond. With distribution services for linear broadcast and Video on Demand (VOD), we’ve even seen production workflows start to penetrate the cloud.

Security, visibility, and analytics are more important than ever


With all these workflows moving ahead simultaneously, we need to start thinking about visibility, security, and analytics and how they affect business as usual. We need to talk about visibility in the cloud because most of the time cloud services are accessed from outside the corporate network. Chances are the devices accessing these services are not controlled by IT, and this leaves a huge security gap in engineering and IT from being unable to monitor users’ traffic and applications.

Wouldn’t it be great if you could pinpoint network issues before they happened? ThousandEyes is a digital experience monitoring platform that provides end-to-end visibility of an entire workflow. This holistic view allows end-users to see where they could be impacted by the path the workflow is taking. For example, with the click of a button your Internet Service Provider (ISP) can see your entire network to pinpoint challenges that are causing problems, like maybe an old tablet that’s slowing down all your other devices. This gives the ISP the ability to take immediate action from fast troubleshooting to an even faster resolution.

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Data control is another area that needs a closer look. Engineering and IT have less access to data when it’s stored in off-prem cloud services. Users can now access data from any location on any device, and this could include Bring Your Own Devices (BYODs). Along this line, Cisco Umbrella offers a single pane of glass encompassing the entire security portfolio, with a flexible portal that addresses the security of the cloud, connected devices, remote users, branch users, etc. This cloud-accessed security broker offers cloud firewalls, secure web gateways, and DNS layer security which can be done over SD-WAN, on-prem users, and most importantly remote users – having security orchestration over people’s houses and the links they might accidentally click.

There’s also the risk that cloud providers have privileged access to your data, making a chain of ownership controls imperative. This is especially true for our media customers. The media enterprise’s most valuable asset is content, and they need to know who’s accessing it. One interesting technology that can be leveraged here is blockchain.

Blockchain, the technology behind bitcoin, is a secure and encrypted digital database that can be shared between all parties in a distributed fashion. All transactions that occur with the data in question are recorded, verified, and stored in the database. This database is comprised of a distributed ledger technology, and in it, multiple copies of the data exist across the network instead of being centralized. This would be an ideal method to maintain a chain of ownership over media assets.

Source: cisco.com

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