5 Cloud Optimization Benefits

When making a cloud migration, a common term that gets tossed around is “cloud optimization”. If your organization is new to the cloud, optimizing your environment is essential to ensuring your migration pays off quickly and continues to do so in the long term.

If your organization is already established in the cloud, you may observe higher costs than expected due to cloud sprawl, under-utilized resources, and improper allocation of resources. Cloud optimization helps your organization reduce these costs and improve overall efficiency in the cloud

Cloud Optimization

What is cloud optimization?

The definition of cloud optimization may vary from one cloud service provider to another, but generally, cloud optimization is the process of analyzing, configuring, provisioning, and right-sizing cloud resources to maximize performance and minimize waste for cost efficiency. The reality is that many organizations’ cloud environments are configured in an inefficient manner that creates unnecessary cloud spend. With proper cloud optimization tools and practices, these unnecessary costs can be eliminated.

While cloud optimization is mostly discussed in terms of cloud spend, cost optimization is simply a faucet of cloud optimization and can extend to overall performance and organizational efficiency. Some examples of cloud optimization practices that your organization can adopt right now include:

  • Right-sizing: Matching your cloud computing instance types (i.e. containers and VMs) and sizes with enough resources to sufficiently meet your workload performance and capacity needs to ensure the lowest cost possible.
  • Family Refresh: Replace outdated systems with updated ones to maximize performance.
  • Autoscaling: Scale your resources according to your application demand so you are only paying for what you use.
  • Applying Discounts: Reserved instances (RIs) allow companies to commit to cloud resources for a long period of time. The longer the discount and the more a company is prepared to pre-pay at the beginning of a period, the greater the discount will be. Discounted pricing models like RIs and spot instances will drive down your cloud costs when used according to your workload.
  • Identity use of RIs: Identifying the use of RIs can be an effective way to save money in the cloud if used for suitable loads.
  • Eliminate Waste: Regulating unused resources is a core component of cloud optimization. If you haven’t already considered cloud optimization practices, you are most likely using more resources than necessary or not certain resources to their full capacity.

Why is cloud optimization important?

Overspending in the cloud is a common issue many organizations face by allocating more resources to a workload than necessary. Integrating cloud optimization practices can reap many benefits for your cloud infrastructure and your organization, including the following:

  • Cloud Efficiency: When workload performance, compliance, and cost are continually balanced against the best-fit infrastructure in real-time, efficiency is achieved. Implementing cloud optimization practices will eliminate as much cloud resource waste as possible, increasing the performance of your cloud environment.
  • Cost Savings: Although cloud optimization comes in a variety of forms, cost optimization is the most important component for many organizations. By reducing waste in the cloud, costs are reduced as a byproduct.
  • Greater Visibility: Cloud optimization practices utilize analytics to provide visibility into your cloud environment to make data-driven decisions. Implementing optimization tools also provides cost visibility, so your organization has a better perspective on cloud spend.
  • Increased Productivity: Once a cloud optimization strategy is implemented, IT teams will spend less time trying to solve problems because an optimized environment prevents problems before they occur.
  • Organizational Innovation & Efficiency: Implementing cloud optimization often is accompanied by a cultural shift within organizations such as improved decision-making and collaboration across teams.

Benefits of cloud optimization

What are cloud optimization services?

Public cloud services providers like Amazon Web Services (AWS), Microsoft Azure, and Google Cloud have over 500,000 distinct prices and technical combinations that can overwhelm the most experienced IT organizations and business units. Luckily, there are already services that can help your organization achieve the cloud optimization it needs to drive business outcomes. Cloud optimization services help your organization identify areas of improvement in your cloud for cost savings and efficiency, create an optimization strategy for your organization, and can manage your cloud infrastructure for continuous optimization.

At 2nd Watch, we take a holistic approach to cloud optimization. We have developed various optimization pillars based on real-time data to ensure your cloud environments are running as efficiently as possible. Behind our solutions for cloud optimization is a team of experienced data scientists and architects that help you maximize the performance and returns of your cloud assets. Our services offerings for cloud optimization at 2nd Watch include:

What are cloud optimization services

  • Strategy & Planning: Define your optimization strategy with our proven methodology, tailored to meet your desired business outcomes and maximize your results.
  • Cost Optimization Assessment: Gain the visibility necessary to make data-driven decisions. Identify opportunities across our Pillars of Optimization to maximize cost savings and cloud environment efficiency.
  • Spot Instance & Container Optimization: Save up to 90% compared to traditional cloud infrastructure by running both Instances/VMs and Containers on spot resources for relevant workloads.
  • Multi-Cloud Optimization: Cloud optimization on a single public cloud is one challenge but optimizing a hybrid cloud is a whole other challenge. Apply learning from your assessment to optimize your cloud environment for AWS, Microsoft Azure, Google Cloud, and VMware on AWS.
  • Forecasting, Modeling, & Analytics: Understand your past usage, and model and forecast your future needs with the analytical data needed for visibility across your organization.

Our cloud optimization process starts with data, and you have a lot of it. But data alone can lead you astray yielding wasted resources and overspend. There are many other factors to evaluate, such as EDP/EA agreements and Savings Plans/RI Purchases, to ensure you choose the most cost-effective option for your business. Strategically, our data scientists and architects map connections between data and workloads. We then make correlations between how workloads interact with each resource and the optimal financial mechanism to reach your cloud optimization goals.

Cloud Optimization with 2nd Watch

Working with a managed cloud service provider like 2nd Watch will give your organization the expertise needed for cloud optimization. If you want to learn more about cost savings or are interested in fully optimizing your cloud infrastructure, contact us to take your next steps.

 

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6 Cloud Consulting Services Benefit your Organization’s Cloud Infrastructure

Cloud computing is a complex process that requires proper planning and continuous management. Whether you are just getting started with the cloud or have been in the cloud for years, you might find yourself asking questions regarding running your cloud infrastructure. Which cloud provider is best for my organization? Should I have one or more public cloud providers? How will I ensure financial transparency and efficiency in the cloud? To tackle these questions, there are a variety of cloud consulting services that make these challenges much easier to overcome for a successful cloud journey.

cloud consulting benefits

What is cloud consulting?

 For any business, getting expert advice guides operations and efficiency for a business to expand. With the cloud as a relatively newer concept for many businesses, a cloud expert is essential to ensure cloud efficiency.

A cloud consultant is someone who specializes in the cloud and can help answer questions, recommend clients with the right architecture that meets their client’s business needs, and can even maintain the cloud applications for their clients. By engaging in cloud consulting services, any questions you have about the cloud can be answered by an expert so you can ensure you are taking an approach that uses the cloud to its full potential. For example, a cloud consultant can recommend the cloud platform that suites your business needs or recommend a hybrid cloud solution.

Cloud consulting service types 

Cloud consulting services vary from one company to another, and there are different services and cloud solutions for different business needs. Although cloud services may vary depending on who your cloud consultant is, we like to break up our services into six different categories.

  • Cloud Advisory: If you are considering a transition to the cloud, cloud advisory services help answer key questions, define strategy, manage change within your organization, and provide impartial advice for a wide range of organizational, process, and technical issues related to cloud modernization.
  • Cloud Migration: When making a transition to the public cloud, there are many different aspects to consider for a successful migration. A cloud consultant can formulate a holistic migration strategy, whether you are migrating an individual workload or an entire data center.
  • Application Modernization & DevOps: A DevOps transformation provides your company and team members with tools and strategy for modernizing your applications. This can be as simple as helping your organization identify strengths and opportunities through an assessment or can include a fully managed DevOps pipeline with ongoing cultural guidance.
  • Data & Analytics: According to a 2nd Watch survey of 150 enterprises, 57% of organizations do not have the analytics expertise necessary to meet business needs. Data and analytics services transforms your organization to be data driven. If you are just starting out in the cloud or are interested in utilizing data, a cloud consultant can help implement an initial set of analytic processes. If your organization is more mature when it comes to data, a cloud consultant can design, build, or enhance your analytic architecture.
  • Compliance, Security, & Business Continuity: Security should be a top priority at every layer of your cloud environment, yet many businesses do not prioritize the security and compliance required when running a cloud environment. A cloud advisor can provide services that monitor your cloud environment 24/7 so that you do not have to.
  • Cloud Operations & Optimization: Optimization ensures your cloud environments are running as efficiently as possible. Handing that responsibility over to a cloud consulting firm helps your organization maximize the performance and returns of your cloud assets.

What are the benefits of cloud consulting?

 Upfront, the working with a cloud consulting firm may seem costly, but the benefits reaped from working with the right cloud consultant greatly justifies the associated costs. Some of the resulting benefits include:

  • Knowledge: Working with a cloud consultant for will give your organization the advisory needed to confidently go about your cloud adoption and journey.
  • Efficiency: Handing over some of the tasks needed to run your environments to a cloud consultant can reduce your time managing the cloud and increase organizational efficiency to drive business outcomes.
  • Reduced Costs: Cloud experts will set up your cloud infrastructure in the most efficient way possible to save your organization from unnecessary cloud spending. Additionally, hiring a cloud consulting company reduces the need for a fully staffed IT department.
  • Enhanced Security: Managing a public cloud infrastructure requires continuous security and compliance to ensure the safety of your data. Working with a cloud consulting firm allows your infrastructure to be managed 24/7.

Consult with 2nd Watch

Cloud has the potential to revolutionize business, but without guidance, it can prompt some daunting decisions in terms of adoption strategy, platform selection, and cost modeling. At 2nd watch, we have the expert knowledge to advise you on these topics and help you get started with your cloud journey. Beyond our planning phases, our team can help you with the migration, optimization, and transformation of your cloud environment . Contact us to learn more or to take your next steps.

-Tessa Foley, Marketing

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Datacenter Migration to the Cloud: Why Your Business Should Do it and How to Plan for it

Datacenter migration is ideal for businesses who are looking to exit or reduce on-premises datacenters, migrate workloads as is, modernize apps, or leave another cloud. Executing migrations, however, is no small task, and as a result, there are many enterprise workloads that still run in on-premises datacenters. Often technology leaders want to migrate more of their workloads and infrastructure to a private or public cloud, but they are turned off by the seemingly complex processes and strategies involved in cloud migration or lack the internal cloud skills necessary to make the transition.

Data Center Migration

 

Though datacenter migration can be a daunting business initiative, the benefits of moving to the cloud are well worth the effort, and the challenges of the migration process can be mitigated by creating a strategy, using the correct tools, and utilizing professional services. Datacenter migration provides a great opportunity to revise, rethink, and improve an organization’s IT architecture. It also ultimately impacts business-critical drivers such as reducing capital expenditure, decreasing ongoing cost, improving scalability and elasticity, improving time-to-market, enacting digital transformation, and attaining improvements in security and compliance.

What are Common Datacenter Migration Challenges?

To ensure a seamless and successful migration to the cloud, businesses should be aware of the potential complexities and risks associated with a datacenter migration. The complexities and risks are addressable, and if addressed properly, organizations can create not only an optimal environment for their migration project, but provide the launch point for business transformation.

Not Understanding Workloads

While cloud platforms are touted as flexible, it is a service-oriented resource and should be treated as such. To be successful in cloud deployment, organizations need to be aware of performance, compatibility, performance requirements (including hardware, software, and IOPS), required software, and adaptability to changes in their workloads. Teams need to run their cloud workloads on the cloud service that is best aligned with the needs of the application and the business.

Not Understanding Licensing

Cloud marketplaces allow businesses to easily “rent” software at an hourly rate. Though the ease of this purchase is enticing, it’s important to remember that it’s not the only option out there. Not all large vendors offer licensing mobility for all applications outside the operating system. In fact, companies should leverage existing relationships with licensing brokers. Just because a business is migrating to the cloud doesn’t mean that a business should abandon existing licensing channels. Organizations should familiarize themselves with their choices for licensing to better maximize ROI.

Not Looking for Opportunities to Incorporate PaaS

Platform as a service (PaaS) is a cloud computing model where a cloud service provider delivers hardware and software tools to users over the internet versus a build-it-yourself Infrastructure as a Service (IaaS) model. The PaaS provider abstracts everything—servers, networks, storage, operating system software, databases, development tools—enabling teams to focus on their application. This enables PaaS customers to build, test, deploy, run, update and scale applications more quickly and inexpensively than they could if they had to build out and manage an IaaS environment on top of their application. While businesses shouldn’t feel compelled to rewrite all their network configurations and operating environments, they should see where they can have quick PaaS wins to replace aging systems.

Not Proactively Preparing for Cloud Migration

Building a new datacenter is a major IT event and usually goes hand-in-hand with another significant business event, such as an acquisition, or outgrowing the existing datacenter. In the case of moving to a new on-premises datacenter, the business will slow down as the company takes on a physical move. Migrating to the cloud is usually not coupled with an eventful business change, and as a result, business does not stop when a company chooses to migrate to the cloud. Therefore, a critical part of cloud migration success is designing the whole process as something that can run along with other IT changes that occur on the same timeline. Application teams frequently adopt cloud deployment practices months before their systems actually migrate to the cloud. By doing so, the team is ready before their infrastructure is even prepared, which makes cloud migration a much smoother event. Combining cloud events with other changes in this manner will maximize a company’s ability to succeed.

Treating and Running the Cloud Environment Like Traditional Datacenters

It seems obvious that cloud environments should be treated differently from traditional datacenters, but this is actually a common pitfall for organizations to fall in. For example, preparing to migrate to the cloud should not include traditional datacenter services, like air conditioning, power supply, physical security, and other datacenter infrastructure, as a part of the planning. Again, this may seem very obvious, but if a business is used to certain practices, it can be surprisingly difficult to break entrenched mindsets and processes.

How to Plan for a Datacenter Migration

While there are potential challenges associated with datacenter migration, the benefits of moving from physical infrastructures, enterprise datacenters, and/or on-premises data storage systems to a cloud datacenter or a hybrid cloud system is well worth the effort.

Now that we’ve gone over the potential challenges of datacenter migration, how do businesses enable a successful datacenter migration while effectively managing risk?

Below, we’ve laid out a repeatable high-level migration strategy that is broken down into four phases: Discovery, Planning, Execution, and Optimization. By leveraging a repeatable framework as such, organizations create the opportunity to identify assets, minimize migration costs and risks using a multi-phased migration approach, enable deployment and configuration, and finally, optimize the end state.

Phase 1: Discovery

During the Discovery phase, companies should understand and document the entire datacenter footprint. This means understanding the existing hardware mapping, software applications, storage layers (databases, file shares), operating systems, networking configurations, security requirements, models of operation (release cadence, how to deploy, escalation management, system maintenance, patching, virtualization, etc.), licensing and compliance requirements, as well as other relevant assets.

The objective of this phase is to have a detailed view of all relevant assets and resources of the current datacenter footprint.

The key milestones in the Discovery phase are:

  • Creating a shared datacenter inventory footprint: Every team and individual who is a part of the datacenter migration to the cloud should be aware of the assets and resources that will go live.
  • Sketching out an initial cloud platform foundations design: This involves identifying centralized concepts of the cloud platform organization such as folder structure, Identity and Access Management (IAM)  model, network administration model, and more.

As a best practice, companies should engage in cross-functional dialogue within their organizations, including teams from IT to Finance to Program Management, ensuring everyone is aligned on changes to support future cloud processes. Furthermore, once a business has migrated from a physical datacenter to the cloud, they should consider whether their datacenter team is trained to support the systems and infrastructure of the cloud provider.

Phase 2: Planning

When a company is entering the Planning phase, they are leveraging the assets and deliverables gathered in the Discovery phase to create migration waves to be sequentially deployed into non-production and production environments.

Typically, it is best to target non-production migration waves first, which helps identify the sequence of waves to migrate first. To start, consider the following:

  • Mapping the current server inventory to the cloud platform’s machine types: Each current workload will generally run on a virtual machine type with similar computing power, memory, and disk. Oftentimes though, the current workload is overprovisioned, so each workload should be evaluated to ensure that it is migrated onto the right VM for that given workload.
  • Timelines: Businesses should lay out their target dates for each migration project.
  • Workloads in each grouping: Figure out what migration waves are grouped by i.e. non-production vs. production applications.
  • The cadence of code releases: Factor in any upcoming code releases as this may impact the decision of whether to migrate sooner or later.
  • Time for infrastructure deployment and testing: Allocate adequate time for testing infrastructures before fully moving over to the cloud.
  • The number of application dependencies: Migration order should be influenced by the number of application dependencies. The applications with the fewest dependencies are generally good candidates for migration first. In contrast, wait to migrate an application that depends on multiple databases.
  • Migration complexity and risk: Migration order should also take complexity into consideration. Tackling simpler aspects of the migration first will generally yield a more successful migration.

As mentioned above, the best practice for migration waves is to start with more predictable and simple workloads. For instance, companies should start with migrating file shares first, then databases and domain controlled, and save the apps for last. However, sometimes the complexity and dependencies don’t allow for a straightforward migration. In these cases, utilizing an experienced service provider who has experience with these complex environments will be prudent.

Phase 3: Execution

Once companies have developed a plan, they can bring them to fruition in the Execution phase. Here, businesses will need to be deliberate about the steps they take and the configurations they develop.

In the Execution phase, companies will put into place infrastructure components and ensure they are configured appropriately, like IAM, networking, firewall rules, and Service Accounts. Here is also where teams should test the applications on the infrastructure configurations to ensure that they have access to their databases, file shares, web servers, load balancers, Active Directory servers, and more. Execution also includes using logging and monitoring to ensure applications continue to function with the necessary performance.

In order for the Execution phase to be successful, there needs to be agile application debugging and testing. Moreover, organizations should have both a short and long-term plan for resolving blockers that may come up during the migration. The Execution phase is iterative and the goal should be to ensure that applications are fully tested on the new infrastructure.

Phase 4: Optimization

The last phase of a datacenter migration project is Optimization. After a business has migrated its workloads to the cloud, it should conduct periodic reviews and planning to optimize the workloads. Optimization includes the following activities:

  • Resizing machine types and disks
  • Leveraging software like Terraform for more agile and predictable deployments
  • Improving automation to reduce operational overhead
  • Bolstering integration with logging, monitoring, and alerting tools
  • Adopting managed services to reduce operational overhead

Cloud services provide visibility into resource consumption and spending, and organizations can more easily identify the compute resources they are paying for. Additionally, businesses can identify virtual machines they need or don’t need. By migrating from a traditional datacenter environment to a cloud environment, teams will be able to optimize their workloads due to the powerful tools that cloud platforms provide.

How do I take the first step in datacenter migration?

While undertaking a full datacenter migration is a significant project, it is worthwhile. The migration framework we’ve provided can help any business break down the process into manageable stages and move fully to the cloud.

When you’re ready to take the first step, we’re here to help to make the process even easier. Contact a 2nd Watch advisor today to get started with your migration to the cloud.

 

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Why You Need to Modernize Your Media Supply Chain

The demand for direct-to-consumer services and media content is continuously growing, and with that, audiences are raising their expectations of media and entertainment companies. Agile and innovative companies, such as Netflix, YouTube, and Amazon Prime, have arguably created and continue to enable the current viewership trends.

These streaming services have disrupted the traditional media landscape by empowering audiences to watch any content wherever and whenever they want. To accommodate new audience behaviors, relevant media companies use technologies to support the modern-day digital media supply chain, which has become increasingly complex to manage.

Why You Need to Modernize Your Media Supply Chain

However, legacy media companies have something that audiences still want: content. Most of these institutions have massive budgets for content production and enormous existing media libraries that have latent revenue potential. For example, legacy media brands own nostalgic cult classics, like “The Office,” that viewers will always want to watch, even though they have watched these episodes multiple times before.

As the volume of content consumption and demand increases, media organizations will find that a traditional media supply chain will constrain their ability to grow and meet customers in their preferred venues, despite owning a broad range of content that viewers want to watch. In order to keep up with audience demand, media companies will need to transform their media supply chains, so that they can distribute their media quickly and at scale, or they risk falling behind. Cloud technologies are the key to modernizing digital asset management, metadata models, quality control, and content delivery networks.

The Challenges of a Traditional Media Supply Chain

There are a lot of moving parts and behind-the-scenes work for media and entertainment businesses to push media assets to audiences. The media supply chain is the process used to create, manage, and deliver digital media from the point of origin (creator, content provider, content owner, etc.) to the destination (the audience.) For the right content and best experience to reach users on devices and platforms of their choice, digital media files must pass through various stages of processing and different workflows.

Media supply chain management is challenging and if there are inefficiencies within this  process, issues that will ultimately affect the bottom line will crop up. The following are top challenges of media supply chain management:

Decentralized Assets

The content wars are in full swing, and as a result, the media and entertainment industry has seen an influx of divestitures, mergers, and acquisitions. Organizations are accumulating as much content as possible by bolstering their media production with media acquisition, but as a result, content management has become more difficult. With more content comes more problems because this introduces more siloed third-party partners. As companies merge, the asset management system becomes decentralized, and media files and metadata are spread across different storage arrays in different datacenters that are managed by different MAMs with various metadata repositories.

Reliance on Manual Processes

Legacy media companies have been around much longer than modern technologies. As a result, some of these organizations still do many media production and distribution tasks manually, especially when it comes to generating, reviewing, and approving metadata. Metadata is essential for sorting, categorizing, routing, and archiving media content, as well as making the content accessible to a global, diverse audience. Using manual processes for these functions not only severely slows down a business, but they are also susceptible to human-error.

Quality of Media Assets

Today, consumers have the latest technology (4K TVs, surround sound systems, etc.), which requires the highest quality version of content sources. With dispersed content libraries and team, working derivative edits to meet localization and licensing requirements and locating native frame rate masters can be a challenging and time-consuming problem to tackle.

Benefits of Using Cloud Technology to Modernize the Media Supply Chain

Cloud-based technologies can help manage and resolve the issues typically encountered in a media supply chain. If media organizations do not utilize cloud solutions to modernize their supply chain, they risk being less agile to meet global audience demand, incurring higher costs to deliver media, and eroding viewership.

Legacy media brands are recognizing the consequences of not adopting modern technology to support their media supply chains, and recently, we’ve seen established media corporations partnering with cloud service providers to undertake a digital transformation. A recent and newsworthy example of this is the MGM and AWS partnership. MGM owns a deep library of film and television content, and by leveraging AWS, MGM is able to distribute this content with flexibility, scalability, reliability, and security to their audiences. AWS offers services and tools to modernize MGM’s media supply chain to be able to distribute content across multiple platforms quickly and at scale.

Businesses don’t need to strike historic deals with cloud service providers to receive the same benefits. By transforming into a cloud-based framework, any media company can reap the following major benefits of modernizing their media supply chain:

Scale and Agility

This point cannot be repeated enough because, again, customer media consumption is rapidly increasing, and businesses must find a way to meet those demands in order to retain customers and remain competitive. With cloud computing, the media supply chain is no longer limited to the capacity of on-premise data centers or the capital expenditure budget that was forecasted a year earlier. Using cloud technology allows organizations to be dynamic and flexible to adjust for growing demand. Businesses can easily scale services up (or even down) based on audience demands by simply adding (or removing) more cloud resources, which is easier and more forgiving than having to add more infrastructure or being stuck with wasted databases.

Cost Effective

Cloud services employ pay-as-you-go billing, which allows companies to pay for what they use rather than paying a fixed cost that may not fit their needs later on down the road. Most importantly, using the cloud removes the maintenance and operational costs associated with  maintaining data center footprints. The costs of server hardware, power consumption, and space for traditional data centers can really add up, especially because these costs are inflexible based on actual consumption. Utilizing cloud technology provides flexibility in billing and trims down maintenance costs.

Automation and Efficiency

Cloud services offer tools that can handle abstract operational complexities, like metadata management, that were historically done manually. These automation and AI features can dramatically reduce the need to manually generate this metadata because it implements machine learning and video, audio, and image recognition to largely automate the generation, review, and approval of metadata. Harnessing the power of automation frees up teams’ resources and time and redirects that energy on impactful, business-differentiating activities.

Data-Driven Decisions

Large audiences also means large amounts of data. Massive volumes of both structured and unstructured data requires increased processing power, storage, and more. Cloud computing has the scalable infrastructure to rapidly manage huge spikes of real time traffic or usage. Moreover, cloud service providers offer a variety of analytic tools that enable extract, transform, and loading of enormous datasets to provide meaningful insights quickly. Media companies can harness this data to improve user experiences and optimize supply chains, all of which greatly affects their bottom line.

Data-Driven Decisions

How do I Get Started in my Media Supply Chain Transformation?

The process is less daunting than you think, and there are experienced cloud advisors and consulting firms who can point you in the right direction. At 2nd Watch, we embrace your unique modernization journey to help transform and modernize your business and achieve true business growth through cloud adoption. To learn more about our media cloud services, visit our Media and Entertainment page or talk to someone directly through our Contact Us page.

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Why Media Companies Should Adopt the Cloud

The Advantages of Cloud Computing for Media & Entertainment

We are living in a revolutionary era of digital content and media consumption. As such, media companies are reckoning with the new challenges that come with new times. One of the biggest changes in the industry is consumer demand and behavior. To adapt, M&E brands need to digitally transform their production, distribution, and monetization processes. Cloud solutions are a crucial tool for this evolution, and M&E organizations should prioritize cloud strategy as a core pillar of their business models to address industry-wide shifts and stay relevant in today’s ultra-competitive landscape.

The Challenge: Addressing Greater Audience Expectations and Volatility

Viewing behavior and media distribution has greatly impacted the M&E industry. Entertainment content consumption is at an all-time high, and audiences are finding new and more ways to watch media. Today, linear television is considered old-school, and consumers are favoring platforms that give them the power of choice and freedom. Why would you tune in to your cable television at a specific time to watch your favorite show when you can watch that same show anytime, anywhere, on any device or platform?

With new non-linear television services, media companies have less control over their audiences’ viewing experience. Before, viewers were constrained by broadcasting schedules and immobile, unconnected TVs. Now, audiences have taken viewership into their own hands, and M&E brands must discover ways to retain their viewers’ attention and loyalty in the era of endless options of content creators and streaming platforms.

Cloud Computing for Media & Entertainment

The Cloud Has the Flexibility and Scalability to Handle Complex Workflows

OTT streaming services are the most popular alternative to linear television broadcasting. It is a solution that meets the audience’s expectation of access to content of their choosing whenever and wherever they want. However, OTT platforms require formatting multiple video files to be delivered to any device with varying connection speeds. As such, OTT streaming services need advanced video streaming workflows that encode and transcode, protect content, and possess storage capacities that continuously grow.

Because OTT broadcasting has complicated workflows and intense infrastructure needs, M&E companies need to consider scalability. OTT streaming that utilizes on-premises data centers will stymie growth for media organizations because legacy applications and software are resource and labor intensive. When OTT services are set up with on-premises streaming, it requires a group of configured live encoding and streaming services to deliver content to audiences.

The in-house services then need to have the computing capacity and capabilities in order to deliver content without interruptions. On top of that, technical staff are necessary to maintain the proprietary hardware, ensure its security, and continuously upgrade it as audiences grow. If companies opt for on-premises OTT streaming, they will not be able to achieve the scalability and quality of experience that they need to keep up with audience expectations.

A cloud-based infrastructure solves all of these issues. To reiterate, on-premises OTT platforms are very resource-intensive with complex ongoing maintenance and high upfront costs. Using cloud services for OTT streaming addresses the downfalls of on-premises streaming by leveraging a network for services dedicated to delivering video files. The benefits of cloud computing for OTT workflows immensely impact streaming latency and distribution, leading to a better end user experience. Cloud infrastructures have the following advantages to on-premises infrastructure:

  • Geography: Unlike in-house data centers, cloud servers can be located around the world, and content can be delivered to audiences via the closest data center, thereby reducing streaming latency.
  • Encoding and transcoding: Cloud services have the ability and capacity to host rendered files and ensure they are ready for quick delivery.
  • Flexible scalability: Providers can easily scale services up or down based on audience demands by simply adding more cloud resources, rather than having to purchase more infrastructure.
  • Cost optimization: Cloud cost is based on only the resources a business uses with none of the maintenance and upkeep costs, and the price adjusts up or down depending on how much is consumed. on-premises costs include server hardware, power consumption, and space. Furthermore, on-premises is inflexible based on actual consumption.

The Cloud Can Help You Better Understand Your Audiences to Increase Revenue

Another buzzword we hear often these days is “big data.” As audiences grow and demonstrate complex behaviors, it’s important to capture those insights to better understand what will increase engagement and loyalty. Cloud computing is able to ingest and manage big data in a way that is actionable: it is one thing to collect data, but it is another thing to process and do something with it. For M&E organizations, utilizing this data helps improve user experiences, optimize supply chains, and monetize content better.

Big data involves manipulating petabytes of data, and the scalable nature of a cloud environment makes it possible to deploy data-intensive applications that power business analytics. The cloud also simplifies connectivity and collaboration within an organization, which gives teams access to relevant and real time analytics and streamlines data sharing. Furthermore, most public cloud providers offer machine learning tools, which makes processing big data even more efficient.

From a data standpoint, a cloud platform is an advantageous option for those who are handling big data and want to make data-driven decisions. The compelling benefits of cloud computing for data are as follows:

  • Faster scalability: Large volumes of both structured and unstructured data requires increased processing power, storage, and more. The cloud provides not only readily-available infrastructure, but also the ability to scale this infrastructure very rapidly to manage large spikes in traffic or usage.
  • Better analytic tools: The cloud offers a number of instant, on demand analytic tools that enable extract, transform, and loading (ETL) of massive datasets to provide meaningful insights quickly.
  • Lowers cost of analytics: Mining big data in the cloud has made the analytics process less costly. In addition to the reduction of on-premises infrastructure, companies are reducing costs related to system maintenance and upgrades, energy consumption, facility management, and more when switching to a cloud infrastructure. Moreover, the cloud’s pay-as-you-go model is more cost-efficient, with little waste of resources.
  • Better resiliency: In cases of cyber-attacks, power outages or equipment failure, traditional data recovery strategies are slow, complex, and risky. The task of replicating a data center (with duplicate storage, servers, networking equipment, and other infrastructure) in preparation for a disaster is tedious, difficult, and expensive. On top of that, legacy systems often take very long to back up and restore, and this is especially true in the era of big data and large digital content libraries, when data stores are so immense and expansive. Having the data stored in cloud infrastructure will allow your organization to recover from disasters faster, thus ensuring continued access to information and vital big data insights.

The Cloud is Secure

There is a misconception that the public cloud is less secure than traditional data centers. Of course, these are valid concerns: media companies must protect sensitive data, such as customers’ personally identifiable information. As a result, security and compliance is crucial for an M&E business’s migration to the cloud.

We have read about cloud security breaches in news headlines. In most cases, these articles fail to accurately point out where the problem occurred. Usually, these breaches occur not due to the security of the cloud itself, but due to the policies and technologies for security and control of the technology. In nearly all cases, it is the user, not the cloud provider, who fails to manage the controls used to protect an organization’s data. The question for M&E business should not be “Is the cloud secure?” but rather “Am I using the cloud securely?”

Whether M&E organizations use a public cloud, private cloud, or hybrid cloud, they can be confident in the security of their data and content. Here is how the cloud is as secure, if not more secure, than in-house data centers:

  • Cloud architecture is homogenous: In building their data centers, cloud providers used the same blueprint and built-in security capabilities throughout their fabrics. The net effect is a reduced attack footprint and fewer holes to exploit since the application of security is ubiquitous.
  • Public cloud providers invest heavily in security measures: The protection of both the infrastructure and the cloud services is priority one and receives commensurate investment. Public cloud providers collectively invest billions in security research, innovation, and protection.
  • Patching and security management is consistent: Enterprises experience security breaches most often because of errors in configuration and unpatched vulnerabilities. Public cloud providers are responsible for the security of the cloud, which includes patching of infrastructure and managed services.

-Anthony Torabi, Strategic Account Executive, Media & Entertainment

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Back to the Basics: The 3 Cloud Computing Service Delivery Models

In recent years, the adoption of cloud computing services has increased tremendously, especially given the onset of the pandemic. According to a report from the International Data Corporation (IDC), the public cloud services market grew 24.1% year over year in 2020. This increase in popularity is credited to the benefits provided by cloud including flexibility, on-demand capacity planning, cost reductions, and ability for users to access shared resources from anywhere.

No matter where you are in your cloud journey, understanding foundational concepts like the different types of cloud service models is important to your success in the cloud. These cloud computing service models provide different levels of control, flexibility, and management capabilities. With a greater understanding of the models, their benefits, and the different ways to deploy these infrastructures, you can determine the method that matches your business needs best.

What are the 3 Cloud Computing Service Delivery Models?

Different cloud computing service delivery models help meet different needs, and determining which model is best for you is an important first step when you transition to the cloud. The three major models are IaaS, PaaS, and SaaS.

Infrastructure as a Service (IaaS)

IaaS is one of the most flexible cloud computing models. The infrastructure and its features are presented in a completely remote environment, allowing clients direct access to servers, networking, storage, and availability zones. Additionally, IaaS environments have automated deployments, significantly speeding up your operations in comparison to manual deployments. Some examples of IaaS vendors include Amazon Web Services (AWS), Microsoft Azure, and Google Cloud Platform. In these types of environments, the vendor is responsible for the infrastructure, but the users still have complete control over the Identity Access Management, data, applications, runtime, middleware, operating system, and virtual network.

Platform as a Service (PaaS)

Another cloud computing service delivery model is Platform as a Service (PaaS). PaaS is a subset of IaaS, except customers are only responsible for Identity Access Management, data, and applications and it removes the need for organizations to manage the underlying infrastructure. Rather than having the responsibility over hardware and operating systems as with IaaS, PaaS helps you focus on the deployment and management of your applications. There is less need for resource procurement, capacity planning, software maintenance, and patching. Some examples of PaaS include Windows Azure, Google AppEngine and AWS Elastic Beanstalk.

Software as a Service (SaaS)

Perhaps the most well-known of all three models is SaaS, where the deployment is redistributed to third party services. The customer’s only responsibilities are Identity Access Management, data, and the task of managing software. SaaS offers the entire package offered between IaaS and PaaS, as infrastructure, middleware, and applications deployed over the web can be seamlessly accessed from any place at any time, no matter the platform. Vendors of SaaS include CRM services like Salesforce and productivity software services like Google Apps. One major benefit of SaaS is that it reduces the costs of software ownership and eliminates the need for IT staff to manage the software so your company can focus on what it does best.  Another benefit of SaaS that its relevance to businesses today, as SaaS is considered the best option for remote collaboration. With SaaS, your applications can be accessed from any geographical location and your company is not responsible for managing the hardware.

Cloud Computing Service Delivery Models

Choosing the Cloud Computing Model that is Right for You

 Each cloud computing service model has different benefits to consider when determining the model that will work best for your business needs, projects, and goals.

While IaaS gives you complete control over your infrastructure, some businesses may decide they do not need to fully manage their applications and infrastructure on their own. IaaS is considered a good fit for SMEs and startups who do not have the resources or time to buy and build the infra for their own network. Additionally, larger companies may prefer to have complete control and scalability over their infrastructure, so they too may opt for IaaS for a pay-as-you go, remote option with powerful tools. One downside to IaaS is that it is more costly in comparison to PaaS and SaaS cloud computing models, yet it does minimize costs in the sense it eliminates the need to deploy on-premises hardware.

IaaS Benefits

  • Reduced vendor lock-in
  • Platform virtualizations
  • On-demand scaling
  • GUI and API-based access
  • Increased security
  • Multi-tenant architecture

IaaS Disadvantages

  • Potential for vendor outages
  • The cost of training how to manage new infrastructure

PaaS is a good choice if you are looking to decrease your application’s time-to-market, because of its remote flexibility and accessibility. Thus, if your project involves multiple developers and vendors, each have quick accessibility to computing and networking resources through a PaaS. PaaS might also be used by a team of developers to test software and applications.

PaaS Benefits

  • Rapid product development through simplified process
  • Custom solutions
  • Highly scalable
  • Eliminates need to manage basic infrastructure
  • Future-proof
  • Multi-tenant architecture

PaaS Disadvantages

  • Security issues
  • Increased dependency on vendor for speed and support

SaaS is a feasible option for smaller companies that need to launch their ecommerce quickly or for short term projects that require quick, easy, and affordable collaboration from either a web or mobile standpoint. Any company that requires frequent collaboration such as transferring content and scheduling meetings will find SaaS convenient and accessible.

SaaS Benefits

  • On-demand service
  • Automated provisioning/management of your cloud infrastructure
  • Subscription-based billing
  • Allows for full remote collaboration
  • Reduced software costs
  • Pay-as-you-go

SaaS Disadvantages

  • Less control
  • Limited solutions

The 3 Cloud Computing Deployment Models

Another foundational concept of cloud are the deployment models. A deployment model is where your infrastructure resides and also determines who has control over its management. Like the cloud computing service delivery models, it is also important to choose the deployment model that will best meet the needs of your business.

There are three types of cloud computing deployment models:

Public Cloud

A cloud deployment means your applications are fully run in the cloud and accessible by the public. Often, organizations will choose a public cloud deployment for scalability reasons or when security is not a main concern. For example, when testing an application. Businesses may choose to create or migrate applications to the cloud to take advantage of its benefits, such as its easy set-up and low costs. Additionally, a public cloud deployment allows for a cloud service provider to manage your cloud infrastructure for you.

On-Premises/Private

 An on-premises cloud deployment, or private cloud deployment, is for companies who need to protect and secure their data and are willing to pay more to do so. Since its on-premises, the data and infrastructure are accessed and managed by your own IT team. Due to in-house maintenance and fixed scalability, this deployment model is the costliest.

Hybrid

 A hybrid cloud deployment connects cloud-based resources and existing non-cloud resources that do not exist in the cloud. The most common way to do this is between a public cloud and on-premises infrastructure. Through a hybrid cloud integration, you can segment data according to the needs of your business. For example, putting your highly sensitive data on-premises while putting less-sensitive data on the public cloud for accessibility and cost-effectiveness. This allows you to enjoy the benefits of the cloud while maintaining a secure environment for your data.

Next Steps

Determining the cloud computing service delivery model and deployment model best for your organization are both critical steps to the success of your company’s cloud computing journey. Get it right the first time by consulting with 2nd Watch. With a decade of experience as a managed service provider, we provide cloud services for your public cloud workloads. As an AWS Consulting Partner, Gold Microsoft Partner, and Google Cloud Partner, our team has the knowledge and expertise to efficiently guide you through your cloud journey. Contact us to learn more or talk to one of our experts.

-Tessa Foley, Marketing

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