For this potential to be fully realized, however, the various types of cloud services described in the preceding paragraphs can deliver only the performance the underlying network architecture will allow. The foundation of this architecture starts with a high-speed, high-capacity network that can withstand the enormous amount of data being uploaded, edited and retrieved from the cloud. Whereas 2.5Gb/s or 10Gb/s speeds were deemed plentiful less than a decade ago, today’s applications benefit from 40Gb/s and 100Gb/s coherent networks.
The traffic flows must also be optimized to ensure latency-sensitive applications are prioritized and routed accordingly through a service-aware architecture. For example, the speed and reliability of the network is of utmost importance for news editors and producers who must edit hours of raw footage into a 30-second spot for the next newscast. In this case, not only does the cloud need to be available and reachable, it needs to be accompanied by a highly resilient network infrastructure offering five or six “9s” of reliability (99.999 percent or 99.9999 percent uptime) as part of the overall network design for business-critical applications using available protection, mesh and control plane options.
In addition to high resiliency demands, today’s networking infrastructure must be able to respond to predictable, and unpredictable, bursts of traffic appropriately with scalable bandwidth. If not, video editors, news producers and content distributors will incur serious headaches. In addition to varying bandwidth demands, the architecture must also be flexible to accommodate various types of traffic services — whether Ethernet-based, Fibre Channel — or be able to transport video streams in their raw formats.
Given the high value of the content created and distributed in the entertainment and broadcast industry, and the inherent data protection requirements, it is also important to consider the security aspect when dealing with cloud services. Even though content is viewed as generally secure once in the cloud, (a recent survey from 451 Research found that only 10 percent of respondents considered the data in the public cloud insecure), an important aspect of protecting the proprietary information is considering the security of the in-flight content as it transits to and from the cloud. A networking solution that incorporates data encryption as part of its transport infrastructure alleviates that concern by ensuring the data is kept secure as it traverses the network and complements the cloud offering by securing the data while in transit.
Such features and characteristics of an assured network help accelerate and facilitate access to cloud solutions for a number of use cases in the broadcast industry and, along with the significant cost advantages of the cloud compared to internal data centers, are key considerations when evaluating networking options. A powerful, carrier-class production network with enhanced security provisions, along with cloud-based services, is guaranteed to assist the video production industry in overcoming the quality, latency and security challenges of today’s increasingly distributed file-based workflows.
—Patrick Scully is product line manager and video transport expert for Ciena.