Video processing requirements are becoming more complex as media consumption habits change and the number of consumer devices capable of displaying video increases, requiring support for an expanding number of file formats. Multiscreen viewing of both live and on-demand content increasingly challenges media companies to assess how much on-site infrastructure to procure to satisfy spikes in demand without overinvesting.
Ensuring a high-quality, reliable consumer viewing experience across multiple screens requires the processing of massive amounts of video — as seen in the Olympics last summer when data delivery peaked at 2.8PB of content, featuring a peak rate of 700Gb/s, when Bradley Wiggins won the gold medal in men’s cycling.
The chart shows an example of predicted demand for video processing capacity compared to actual demand, where the red steps represent capacity purchases over time. (See Figure 1.) An obvious concern is where demand exceeds what fixed infrastructure can support. However, the opposite situation can prove even more costly over time, where demand runs lower than capacity, resulting in investments that go unused.
Media companies that don’t have enough video processing infrastructure to meet variable demand may find it difficult to keep up with customer expectations for top-quality service. Production houses that buy more infrastructure than they need will incur the unnecessary costs of maintaining resources that sit idle. Either way, they lose money.
The cloud offers a rational and cost-effective solution to the problem of variable demand by offering the ability to instantly scale up video processing capacity to accommodate high-traffic events, and then back down again as traffic wanes, while avoiding additional hardware investments that aren’t consistently utilized. Just like paying for a utility such as water or electricity, media companies can replace additional capital investments with more predictable operating costs that rise and fall depending upon the amount of cloud resources they actually use. Cloud computing can help organizations handle variable video processing demand with great flexibility and agility, enabling them to improve customer service while at the same time reducing capital costs.
Cloud computing also presents exciting opportunities for media and entertainment companies that want to minimize the risk of launching new initiatives. For example, a broadcaster can quickly introduce a new program or channel using cloud transcoding and evaluate its success without investing in additional infrastructure. Once the new inititave is proven successful, investments in on-premise infrastructure can be made confidently to balance long-term economics.
Likewise, the cloud offers the opportunity to take one-time projects without long-term investment. For example, many media companies have an extensive catalog of content, but supporting the infrastructure required to convert a video library into new distribution formats can be costly and inefficient. Using cloud resources, broadcasters can enhance offerings and extract unrealized revenue to make archived video footage available to customers on demand.