Limits of traditional MAMs
A brief review of why broadcasting leaders are re-evaluating their MAMs in light of cloud computing is helpful. Traditional MAMs debuted at a time when all computing resources were located on-premises and the concept of file-based workflows was new. Video LANs (VLANs) connected traffic systems, computers, switchers to the decks and media store. Broadcasters found teams were creating stories and leaving multiple copies of video assets strewn throughout the organization on hard drives, tape decks, PCs, etc. Centralizing storage, indexing the content and limiting access were required to inventory and keep track of what was available in the facility. MAMs saved tremendous duplication of effort and made it so that the broadcast group finally could organize its assets, locate previously lost footage and be more efficient going to air.
The limits of traditional on-premises MAMs, however, are notable:
- On-premises MAMs were costly to acquire, implement and maintain, considering capital expenses, operating and maintenance costs, and ancillary costs such as power, heating/cooling and floor space.
- Companies often inherited multiple MAMs, either through siloed departmental purchases or via mergers and acquisitions, which created other logistical issues around ensuring compatibility of disparate systems.
- Cumbersome workarounds, such as VPNs and firewall perforations, were required to allow MAM access for trusted offsite employees, consultants and business partners.
- In transitioning to file-based workflows, episodes and clips were no longer collections of different analog files and physical assets but instead became digital assets with database relationships with other types of digital files comprising documents and spreadsheets for budgets, shot lists, music tracks, etc. Not all previous MAM systems are able to handle both video and document assets.
- With MAM functioning as a central repository of all video, still images, legal contracts, Pantone guides, etc., other departments like advertising, marketing, legal and sales are increasingly using MAM as a revenue-generating tool for their parts of the business.
An entire MAM in the cloud
Most on-premises MAM providers have duly noted the above and implemented some degree of “Webification” into their systems — although, again, it’s important to distinguish “Webification” from “Cloudification.” Until recently, however, it was not generally possible to place the entire MAM in the cloud. Internet access was unreliable, insecure or slow for the file sizes and volumes of professionally aired content.
Fast forward to today, in an era of Facebook, SalesForce, Amazon Web Services and other numerous cloud service providers, coupled with continually decreasing hosting, storage and bandwidth costs. Placing an entire MAM in the cloud, in a secure, managed and controllable way, is basically a riff on what is fundamentally a “website” architecture. (See Figure 1.)
A true cloud architecture provides a secure, hardware- and software-free, self-service, simultaneous access paradigm to common assets anywhere in the world. It takes a user-centric productivity perspective to providing access, versus the old centralized “librarian” mentality, where an asset must be locked/checked out for use. (See Table 1.) One might call it a collaborative, “parallel” access paradigm as opposed to a “limited,” “sequential” access paradigm.
Putting the MAM in the cloud makes sense for a lot of broadcast and production environments. It holds tremendous benefits in a global media market where:
- Global content is centrally aggregated;
- Team members are assembled from around the world;
- Content is globally repurposed;
- Media conglomerates are seeking global-scale content delivery capabilities and efficiencies.