Major cloud providers Microsoft, Amazon and Google, along with cloud solution providers Swxtch.io and Cinegy, have spoken about the need for multi-cloud solutions in a panel session organised by the Society of Media Professionals, Technologists and Engineers (SMPTE) at media industry conference IBC in Amsterdam.
Panellists included Andy Beach, chief technology officer of media and entertainment at Microsoft, Geeter Kyrazis, chief strategy officer at Swxtch.io, and Jan Weigner, president and CEO of Cinegy, alongside Anshul Kapoor, head of media broadcasting solutions at Google Cloud and Chris Blandy, director of media and entertainment at Amazon Web Services.
In his introductory remarks, Kyrazis drew attention to the reality of customers using multiple cloud platforms, and the need for simplicity to enable reliable workflows.
“Our partners are telling us that hybrid cloud is happening today,” he said. “Our goal is to provide simplicity across those different networks, allowing data to flow freely between them. We want to enable people to build workflows and broadcast networks the way that they typically did on-prem.”
Beach, Kapoor and Blandy acknowledged the need for cloud environments to work smoothly together to provide the seamless experiences that broadcasters want.
“As Geeter said, when customers deploy on Azure, they want assurances that it is going to look as similar as possible to their on-prem environment and like it does on other public clouds," said Beach. “The devil is in the detail. While ultimately public clouds are similar, the deployment methodologies and service-level agreements are going to vary, and it’s the nuance that the partner ecosystem has to work with all three of us in order to provide the layer of reliability that a broadcaster wants.”
Jan Weigner raised the issue of a brute force approach to deploying applications in the cloud, suggesting that cloud providers needed help make customers aware of the environmental impact of their operations.
“To start with, a lot of organisations just lifted and shifted their applications into the cloud, and just used a big hammer of compute problem to solve any problems,” said Weigner. “That’s not my idea of sustainability. Now, many software partners that are in the cloud are evolving their offerings to speak the new language and take advantage of cloud architectures. It’s important for me that cloud providers such as Microsoft provide the data tracking the power and carbon dioxide usage of an app, as that motivates a developer to say “We need to do things cleverly, not just use a bigger hammer.”
In response, Beach drew attention to the data that Microsoft makes available to its customers around the emissions produced by their operations in the cloud, agreeing that sharing this information provided a motivating factor for change.
“Sustainability starts with accountability,” said Beach. “The first thing that we did for Azure was add tagging so that all services have an awareness of what carbon footprints they are generating. We can also provide the ability to divide that footprint into different workloads, which can be by channel, by production or in a lot of different ways. Until a company sees that number, they’re not going to be motivated to change.”
Beach also highlighted the role that artificial intelligence could play in optimising cloud services, helping to deliver greater sustainability.
“One of the things that AI is enabling is in helping to monitor services and provide recommendations for which servers are not being used and could be collapsed, and when they need to be spun back up,” said Beach. “The role of the team that I’m on is to look at what we’ve done at Microsoft for other industries to optimise workflows and see how we can apply that to the media industry, and those uses of AI are an example of that. It’s not just a mindset change, it’s about having all the necessary pieces in place.”
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