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Microsoft Industry Blogs - United Kingdom

Despite cloud technology offering game-changing potential for media companies, the industry hasn’t yet adopted it in full. Many organisations retain their legacy on-premise infrastructure and business model.

Yet those that have taken the transformation leap can now stand as exemplars to newcomers. Their innovation has prompted the creation of many media-specific tools and services in the cloud which are now tried, tested and good to go.

In its new report, The Cloud for Media, the Digital Production Partnership (DPP) examines the practical benefits of the cloud for media companies and software vendors to the industry. It guides companies through cloud technology, strategy, migration, economics, and the skills and governance they’ll need to make transformation a success.

So what are the advantages of migrating media workflows to the cloud? What kind of changes do you need to prepare for? And what are the key takeaways from this report?

Benefits of the cloud

To leverage the full potential of cloud technology, media companies will need to commit to a new business strategy. That’s because migration changes existing business practices and relationships. To carry these changes through, your finance, technology and operational teams really need to be fully behind them.

In theory, this shouldn’t be controversial. The cloud will enable them to simplify processes, cut costs, and be more productive through being able to automate tedious tasks. Meanwhile, it can also free the wider business to adapt, experiment and innovate.

Let’s look at five more industry-specific benefits.

1. Collaborative production

The cloud enables more collaborative workflows, especially in content production. Many producers have successfully adopted Software as a Service (SaaS) tools such as collaborative document editing, file storage and resource planning. With very little training, they can quickly benefit from an excellent user experience.

2. Secure remote work

The cloud’s role in enabling remote and mobile working – supported by premium collaboration tools – is well known. Powerful cloud security solutions will also help protect your employees’ applications, data and devices. For example, single sign-on and multi-factor authentication (MFA) free staff to securely access their tools and resources whenever they need them. From anywhere.

A man in a Teams online workshop about building an AI-ready culture.

3. Agile content delivery

With cloud-based workflows, you can speed up the supply chain. That’s because, once content is in the cloud, both software and people can access it directly, without a series of distributions. This can be especially useful for news broadcasting and live sports, in which breaking news or a winning goal can be shared with all distribution channels in near-real time. Better still, you could even look to automate the process.

4. Global distribution

A lot of large OTT platforms are run in the cloud, serving video to viewers using content delivery networks (CDNs). If you’re dealing with multiple regions, demand can be unpredictable. But the cloud allows you to scale delivery, without over-provisioning, to match changing demand. You can also use it to deliver live, broadcast-grade content and channels online (as several providers do for major sports).

5. Broadcast

Cloud-based channel playout and linear channel origination is finally on the rise. Protocols like RIST, SRT, and Zixi, combined with gradually improving connectivity and bandwidth, have enabled live streams to be transported into, around and out of the cloud. A note of caution: connectivity remains an area for attention.

Three practical tips for cloud migration

Each organisation will have its own migration journey, dictated by its individual business and customer needs. But the report highlights three key takeaways that will apply for all media companies.

1. Engage your whole organisation

First, get your CFO on-side. You’ll need their support, because the cloud uses an OpEx rather than a CapEx model. Next, work with the business to rethink workflows – don’t just migrate them to the cloud. Finally, to build support on your journey, regularly communicate the end to end strategy and provide training so your teams have the right skills to work alongside the latest technology.

2. Go ‘cloud native’

In other words, create solutions that exploit the cloud’s capabilities. That means taking advantage of its scalability, agility, resilience, performance and cost-effectiveness. Make sure your solutions are also built with security in mind. Consider factors like identity, access management, and encryption.

3. Commit to the process

Define a strategy and plan, and get going. Break your migration journey into manageable steps by migrating individual business areas or workflows one at a time. Move whole workflows to avoid migrating content in and out of the cloud too often (which adds cost and time to the process).

A practical way to learn about technology is to get hands-on with it – perhaps with a straightforward use case. The cost of experimenting is low, so why not try building a component that takes advantage of cloud capabilities, then tracking its performance and fine-tuning it? Or build a different component. Either way, it’s time to seize the day.

Find out more

Download the report: The Cloud for Media

Discover more: Azure Media Services’ new AI-powered innovation

Read about NBA and Microsoft’s new partnership: Redefining and personalising the fan experience

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About the author

Stuart Almond wearing glasses and smiling at the cameraAs a lead spokesperson for innovation within the media industry, Stuart has played both sides of the fence having started his career as a BBC Journalist before moving into a number of roles in media production. From here the pull of technology innovation took him into development and R&D, then corporate strategic management and change consultancy for some of the biggest media brands around the globe.

Over the last 20+ years, Stuart has helped deliver major business transformation having held significant change roles at companies ranging from the BBC, Endemol Shine Group, to Sony.

Passionate about the transformation technology can bring, Stuart is now an Industry Lead for Media and Telecommunications within Microsoft, where he relishes any opportunity to offer his entrepreneurial spirit and natural storytelling ability to challenge organisations to ‘refocus the lens’ in order to create a successful impact through the adoption of innovation.

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