The industry is seeing nuanced and bespoke cloud deployments, explains Lee Sheppard, director of product management, SGL

When it floated across the video horizon a few years ago, the possibilities of the cloud led many of us to anticipate that it would soon start removing the need for all other forms of storage.

However, while major benefits have indeed been achieved, some media companies are still hesitant to store their valuable assets in the cloud due to security implications and cost concerns.

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Lee Sheppard, director of product management, SGL

What we are seeing is nuanced and bespoke usage; using the cloud where it really benefits a given workflow rather than replacing one’s entire playout infrastructure. It is typically more cost-effective to consider specific overall requirements of a given business case, for example.

With this in mind what are the benefits of archiving content in the cloud?

Among the key drivers are: access to content from any location; the ability to work collaboratively on projects; disaster recovery - particularly if the material is never restored (storage costs are very low, but restore charges are high); simplicity – make one copy and let the cloud do the rest; and low start-up costs with no responsibility for IT infrastructure.

Cloud archiving is much more cost-effective if limited content needs to be restored. Let’s call this the usage ratio. A single usage ratio of 10 per cent means that at some point 10 per cent of the archived assets will be used again, at least once. A high usage ratio means additional costs.

Organisations such as news services may have a very low usage ratio, storing huge amounts of raw footage but only using a small fraction.

Other organisations may have workflows in which assets are all archived and then retrieved for transmission.

This very high usage ratio would currently render a full cloud archive unacceptably expensive, especially when compared to the TCO of an LTO7 tape infrastructure.

Cost is therefore an important factor when considering cloud-based archive workflows.

For instance, Amazon places restrictions on the volume of assets that can be retrieved per day, and does not take into account peak period usage.

Content owners who are considering cloud storage need to consider the amount of content that will need to be restored.

There are also other factors to consider. Speed of retrieval is often vital, and therefore the size of both concurrent retrievals and the communication pipe need to be evaluated.

Partial file restore, which allows editors to select and restore elements of a clip directly from the archive in high resolution, is not available from the cloud. This is significant, considering that assets are now reaching hundreds of gigabytes or even terabytes in size.

This content was first published at IBC2016

The views expressed are those of the author.