BBC, Discovery and ITV amongst first adopters of cloud solutions choosing Amazon ahead of Google and Microsoft.

“2019 is the year we start seeing significant migration to the cloud,” according to Amazon Web Services (AWS) Elemental Chief Product Officer Aslam Khader.

Khader was speaking last week, AWS Elemental Media Connect is the newest tool adding to the media services portfolio, a new cloud-based live video service.

With the globalisation of content and a distribution model that needs to match, broadcasters are looking at cloud computing and the promises of instant delivery, virtualised workflows and top end security.

The objectives of employing cloud infrastructures include collaboration, remote production and opportunities to innovate and producer greater amounts of content with less resource.

Adopting workflows for the cloud fundamentally enhances and optimises business models, Khader said, providing the ability to enhance the value of content with reliable, secure and low-cost management solutions.

Elemental was taken over by AWS in around $500 million cash exchange, according to Tech Crunch. It was acquired to grow its video solutions with the AWS Cloud platform in a move to provide media and entertainment companies integrated solutions.

The first outcome of the AWS and Elemental merger was the launch of five new media services in 2017, as a response to engaging with customers and delivering on their demands.

“Understanding what we need to do to deliver for our customer is critical,” Khader said.

Khader pointed to the BBC, which sees the cloud as the future for video on-demand and live workflows across the business, with the migration already in progress.

AWS Elemental Media Connect boasts two main features, allowing users to upload live video to transfer instantly as well as using the internet instead of fibre to transfer streams.

Khader said: “Media Connect is a secure way for users to get entitlements, it automatically incorporates robust protocols… It fills the gaps customers were asking for and connecting the workflows together for efficiency from the rights holder to the audience.”

Discovery Networks, UK broadcaster ITV, UK-based infrastructure and broadcast facility Arqiva and US-based sports network Pac-12 were the initial four customers.

Discovery Communications have on-premise capabilities and recently moved its playout into the cloud for OTT distribution.

Aslam Khader

Aslam Khader

Khader added the flexibility and pricing of AWS is mature and attractive to clients.

Discovery now runs all of its US-based services on AWS for its digital properties. According to Igor Brezac, Chief Systems Architect, Digital Media: “We were attracted [to AWS] by the ability to get new instances up and running at a moment’s notice.”

Khader explained the key to AWS’s success is the breadth and depth of its offering, echoing this sentiment was Arqiva Director of Strategy Satellite and Media Nick Moreno.

Arqiva celebrated one billion pounds in revenue for 2017, Moreno attributed the success to its decision to overhauls its strategy back in 2014 and directly talk to its customers and deliver services with the cloud in mind.

Moreno said: “What we understand from our customers point of view whether they’re a supplier or a broadcaster is the importance of virtualisation.”

Flexibility and scalability and the need to operate globally particularly for pop up channels is fundamental, this is where the cloud is primarily beneficial.

He added: “We are looking for partnerships rather than supplier and buyer relationships.

“We are living in a hybrid world and for most broadcasters you don’t switch to cloud over night.”

Khader added: “Broadcasters want to spend more on content and less on content management.”

Midia Research SVP Consumer Services Paolo Pescatore said: “Amazon Web Services is a formidable competitor. It has a significant head start over rivals.”

“AWS is now a default partner for providers moving into the cloud as underlined by its impressive and growing client roster. This combined with expertise in AI, machine learning, time to launch new services and security makes it hard for rivals to compete head on.”

Khader said AWS is dedicated to offering customers solutions to meet their business demands and leveraging AWS cloud services, noting the robust computer, storage and data analytics as benefits.

While AWS is “looking at 5G closely for its influence on technology and services,” Khader explained, “5G as an alternative of fixed wired access (FWA) internet at home does not impact AWS’s level of delivery.”

Acknowledging the potential opportunity however, Khader said: “5G as a replacement to satellite; its ability to do more to innovate and lead to more efficient delivery of content is promising.”

Artificial intelligence (AI) and machine learning (ML) solutions promise to automate tasks including sporting highlight clips and generating real-time closed captions are on firmly AWS’s agenda.

Khader said: “We are looking at [new technologies] very closely, which is a big advantage of going with AWS services.

“5G as a replacement to satellite; its ability to do more to innovate and lead to more efficient delivery of content is promising.”

“Make use of the large number of ML services to make services more efficient from a time-to-market–latency and cost perspective.”

Sports Media production company Pac-12 Networks has transformed its fans experience in a move to reach more viewers in more locations and across more devices.

The new approach makes use of AWS cloud technologies where the master control production workflows have been reimagined.

Pac-12 Networks Vice President of Engineering and Technology Mark Kramer wrote in a blog post: “We’ve chosen to go all-in on the world’s leading cloud to drive digital transformation across the entire organisation, and to enhance our innovation and workflow processes so that we can bring new offerings and better experiences to market faster.”

He added the quality for linear broadcast and TV everywhere audiences was striking, offering audiences “a new level of experience, years in the making.”

“We now have dozen of customer deploying this.

“Customers were clear about [what they needed] and we are looking forward to it kick starting a lot of live workflows both for the enterprise customers and the long tail customers, because it simplifies things tremendously.”

The pay as you go model replaces costly hardware heavy infrastructure to deliver exceptional viewing experiences on multiple screens for live video with autoscaling in a self-managed system.

The reliability and security of satellite and fibre are combined in Media Connect with flexible, agile and IP-based economics.

Taking no prisoners
AWS is differentiating itself from its competitors, namely Google and Microsoft, who are the leaders in field, exceeding customer expectations and quality of service according to research by Gartner.

Gartner reported the global public cloud market will grow to $278 billion in 2021 which is a rise from $176 billion this year.

Gartner forecast the worldwide public cloud service market is projected to grow 17.3% in 2019, while the fastest growing segment of the market cloud system infrastructure service is forecasted to grow 27.6% in 2019 reaching $39.5 billion.

AWS caters to “cloud savvy customers,” Khader explains its “self service platform” is open to organisations who are seeking to incorporate workflows on a variable price.