The media industry is going through a revolution. Content production is booming with new entrants, from individuals broadcasting online to multinational corporations that traditionally focused on other aspects of the media industry. Organizations are producing more content and delivering it through many different platforms and devices. Managers in our industry face constant pressure to produce more, higher quality content in shorter periods of time, and with fewer resources than before.
In addition to being a challenge for media companies themselves, this ever-evolving media landscape imposes the same market pressures on solution providers. They are tasked with constantly reviewing and amending product lines to ensure their solutions can evolve and adapt in order to provide media companies with the right tools at the right time.
Challenges Are Opportunities
For media companies, these challenges also represent an opportunity, driving them to provide a wide range of content to consumers in myriad ways. The challenge of fierce competition is also the opportunity for almost anyone to find a place in this industry. Furthermore, many consumers are signing up to several services, creating more room than ever before, even for extremely niche content offerings.
This indicates that there are a vast number of potential media-centric workflows, depending on the content provider, the platforms, the type of content, etc. For solution providers, there is increasing pressure to deliver flexible and efficient products that support the wide variety of workflows while ensuring much needed security and reliability of content. It is no longer enough to merely support flexible and dynamic models; today's media solutions need thoroughly adaptable, service-oriented architectures that allow products to share a common technology base and ultimately be deployed anywhere in a load-balanced, high-availability fashion without compromising speed and reliability.
The Cloud Effect
A major buzzword in the industry today is "the cloud." Indeed, the technology is revolutionizing the media industry. The biggest advantage the cloud brings is flexibility to adapt to changes in demands and requirements, particularly in the dynamic workflows found in media enterprises. We live in the era of "doing more with less"—budgets are shrinking, and yet the amount of content needed is growing exponentially. The math quite simply does not add up if corporations continue to use traditional methods to meet these demands. The shift to the cloud is inevitable, as it allows media companies to very rapidly scale production systems, as well as support a geographically dispersed work force that covers events and productions all over the world. Ultimately, such a flexible infrastructure makes media organizations more efficient in tackling the challenges of our industry.
Yet, at the same time, the move to the cloud is causing challenges for some manufacturers and solution providers, as products for today's media industry need to be designed with the cloud in mind. That means distributed, highly available and secure services that can be easily installed in any combination of modes (irrespective of geographic dispersion)—in data centers, on the cloud, on premise—thus allowing customers the greatest flexibility possible with respect to pacing out their most optimal transition to the cloud.
With the rise of cloud-based architectures, it is not surprising that we are witnessing many companies turning to a more services-oriented model. The media industry is also looking for more flexibility when it comes to choosing the right tools, favoring a build-it-themselves approach whereby different solutions are tightly integrated and bundled together for a bespoke offering.
Solution providers need more than ever to offer a service-oriented platform, deployable on a load-balanced, failover, distributed platform, that enables customers to take on the toughest challenges and minimize production time. By also making services available on an array of other popular platforms, customers can get the right tools in any environment they choose to adopt in their transition to cloud.
IP or Not IP
IP has been a massive topic of discussion in the industry over recent months and years. IP is widely used for distribution and will be taking center stage in live productions over the coming months. The technology already exists for full IP workflows, which indicates that the main barrier to industry-wide adoption is, in fact, a question of integration. As more examples emerge of IP done well, we will see more providers follow suit in order to maximize the cost and bandwidth efficiencies afforded by IP. IP infrastructures are yet another challenge for solution providers and manufacturers who have to totally rethink solutions to be IP-centric.
Solving the Workflow Puzzle
These significant shifts offer media companies plenty of opportunities to engage with audiences like never before. As solution providers, we have an important role to play in helping shape the future of our industry and enabling content providers to concentrate on effectively producing the best content with the tools of their choosing.