How media companies can prepare for an uncertain and remote year


Sachin Agarwal, Worldwide Product Management Lead, IBM Aspera

There are still a lot of unknowns as we look ahead to 2021 and how the pandemic will continue to impact the media industry.  What media companies can do, however, is learn to become more flexible with their plans as they prepare for the year ahead. It’s something we’ve all had to learn and do over the last eight months.

As we’ve dealt with restrictions across the globe, which have been changing almost weekly, many production teams are continuing to work remotely. Because of this, the spotlight has been focused on high-quality IP-based streaming and cloud security as it’s more important than ever for media companies to secure their workflows to protect their content and revenues. This means media businesses have a lot to think about if they want to operate effectively and efficiently amid the ‘new normal’ in 2021.

Cloud-native technologies

The inherent values of cloud-native technologies are prompting more and more media businesses to work with external partners to evolve their public cloud resources and workflows into container-based environments. Containers are a virtualization technology that allows users to package and isolate discrete application components with the precise dependencies and configurations required to run, thereby providing a streamlined way to build, test, deploy and redeploy applications on multiple environments. This offers many benefits for media organizations. For example, containers provide the flexibility to efficiently manage new remote workflows and infrastructures consistently across all applications, such as encoding, transcoding, graphics rendering and video transport.

Most importantly, they allow businesses to scale up workflows very quickly, automatically and on-demand to meet fluctuating requirements and leverage the power of the cloud to apply additional resources when needed. Although there are costs associated, the flexibility means workflows can be scaled up and down to meet spikes or dips in demand for production traffic. Although the media industry has been relatively slow to adopt containers compared to others, we’re seeing growing interest in Kubernetes and the consolidation of media offerings onto a single platform powered by containers. And we’ll continue to see interest in this technology grow in 2021. 

IP-based streaming

Container technology isn’t the only innovation enhancing remote production workflows. IP-based streaming is also taking on more importance and we’ll see this continue as remote productions have fewer office-based IT support staff in the current climate. Media businesses are operating on skeleton crews, and IP-based streaming offers a flexible and cost-efficient way of operating remote production sites without requiring a full IT staff, while also ensuring a more streamlined workflow. 


Finally, the issue of security can’t be overlooked. While security has long been considered as a central part of any end-to-end workflow, the emergence of increasingly remote productions with employees working from different locations means it’s more important than ever. Ensuring proper identity management is becoming increasingly important, presenting a need to integrate technologies such as intelligent authentication, credentials encryption and secure key management integration with BYOK (bring your own key) capabilities. 

BYOK enables businesses to easily and cost efficiently rotate their encryption keys and can be supplemented with other cloud security innovations such as forensic watermarking-as-a-service to counter piracy. This all can help media businesses ensure security by following the principles of zero-trust environments when auditing key workflows, providing a high level of control and protecting valuable content in the most effective way possible. These security measures can help organizations currently going through this transition phase adapt to new, secure ways of working now and in the future.

It may have taken the media industry a while to catch up, but container-based deployments are now becoming the dominant infrastructure solution in a remote and hybrid cloud world. These cloud-native technologies are crucial to supporting nimble and secure operations. Amid the uncertainty and change that the pandemic has brought, these tools are giving media businesses the power to enhance their remote production workflows so that they can adapt to any situation that arises. 


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