NAB’s Digital Craving is Being Satisfied by the Cloud

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The entertainment and media industry is in the early stages of a massive digital transformation and nowhere was that more apparent than at this year’s NAB show. Approximately 100,000 attendees from 159 countries came together with more than 1,700 exhibitors representing broadcast and film entertainment, digital media, advertising, telecom and IT security (just to name a few). The show’s theme, “Crave More,” referred to the insatiable demand for more and more digital content on every conceivable platform.

Equinix was there in force ̶ exhibiting, presenting, participating in panel discussions and getting a good feel for what’s happening out there. Here are some of our more interesting observations about the show from our Global Solutions Architects Jason Banks and Shane Guthrie, and Sr. Manager, Field Development, Chuck Correll.

  • The cloud was hot. Last year’s theme, “What is the cloud?” was represented primarily by Amazon Web Services and Microsoft Azure. This year, just about everyone is ready to jump in, with Google, SoftLayer and a host of other cloud providers joining the show.For now, it’s clear that hybrid cloud is the way to go for most, combining the control and security offered by an internal private cloud infrastructure with the option to burst out to the public cloud quickly during periods of peak demand. Obviously, fast public/private connections and airtight security are key concerns.
  • The cloud came up in most of our meetings with post-production houses, media asset management companies, technology vendors, streaming platform providers, programming providers and others. There was tons of interest in our fast, direct, secure connections to more than 1,000 network providers and the Equinix Cloud Exchange’s fast, proximate connections to more than 500 cloud service providers globally.
  • The ongoing shift from analog to digital media and the cloud was more evident than ever. Much of the buzz was around IP streaming and video on demand, provided to the consumer by over-the-top (OTT) streaming content providers such as Apple, Netflix,SlingTV, HBO Now and CBS All Access, and by technology providers, such asClearLeap, Harmonic, Envivio, NeuLion and Vubiquity, that can assist with the migration to OTT.
  • It was no surprise that the biggest announcement at the show was the new partnership between Disney/ABC Television and Imagine Communications to move Disney’s linear broadcast operations, including global programming playout, delivery and network operations, to a unified cloud architecture. Disney/ABC emphasized the move to the cloud was motivated by flexibility, fast service launch and rapid response to consumer demand enabled by a cloud master control architecture.
  • It was clear that encoding is becoming a commodity cloud service offered by Amazon, Encoding.com/Harmonic and others. Rendering is also moving to the cloud in a big way. For both, cloud scalability is key. Given the ultra-high definition file sizes and the humongous compute resources required for rendering, purchasing all the hardware and data center real estate internally is getting less and less affordable.
  • Other cloud-enabled applications include workflow and media asset management, front-end systems that track content, rights management services, such as FilmTrack, and other similar functions that have been, until recently, tracked by spreadsheet. The cloud is replacing the old way of moving tape and hard drives around during the production process.
  • Finally, programmatic video advertising is starting to take off for traditional and non-traditional multichannel video programming distributors alike.

Clearly the analog to digital trend is accelerating to meet media consumption demands and next year’s show will no doubt leap ahead of what we saw this April.