The difference between an ‘edge’ and a ‘true’ cloud playout are stark, says Igor Krol, CEO, Veset
Cloud technology is now fully understood by those promoting its virtues, and that its reputation as storage merely ‘good enough’ for undemanding consumers no longer applies.
Some broadcasters have indeed adopted cloud-enabled technology in their workflows faster than others, especially for content storage and VOD.
However, when we come to ’cloud-based playout, if you scratch the surface you will more often than not find that these solutions are actually based on physical, standalone servers, remotely accessed via the internet.
Let’s be clear - this is not a cloud solution! Purists like me, and hopefully not just me, get upset when we encounter what can only be described as deceptive terminology.
But not everyone is a purist.
Many in the industry, in particular large managed service providers who peddle so-called edge solutions under a cloud-enabled wrapper, will say, “It does the job, so who cares if it’s just a server in a rack?”
To make my case, we ran side-by-side comparisons of generic ‘edge’ vs ‘true’ cloud playout, and the differences were stark.
Typically, the most advanced so-called cloud-enabled edge-based solutions use cloud storage along with a central, web-based interface/console to remotely operate the playout system, including of course the playout servers.
The actual playout software can be installed on generic hardware, but more often than not it’s installed on proprietary servers (with GPUs) that need to be purchased and deployed at the satellite uplink/cable/IPTV headend or in a data centre providing channel distribution.
The edge server will communicate with the cloud service, download the channel playlist and respective assets, play out the channel according to the playlist and send status data and as-run logs back to the cloud service.
For true cloud playout, the ingest, library, channel and playout management are all achieved by a 100 per cent cloud service. The channel operator manages and monitors all aspects of the channel via a web-based console - from anywhere. The major advantage of true cloud is that playout runs on a cloud server, on a virtual machine, or machines, made available by the cloud provider.
If the answers to your cloud/edge solution questions seem vague or incomplete, consider this - they might just be blowing hot air.
This content was first published at IBC2016
The views expressed are those of the author.