AWS for M&E Blog

Media cloud migrations – Three myths

Authored by Wouter Slot, Chief Operating Officer of Divitel. The content and opinions in this post are those of the third-party author and AWS is not responsible for the content or accuracy of this post.

Divitel hosted a Media Cloud Transformation Summit in the Netherlands on 7 November, 2019, and we heard a lot of questions which revolved around three myths about cloud migrations for media. We thought it would be valuable to share and dispel those myths about migrating media workloads to the cloud and how Divitel’s collaboration with AWS enables us to demystify cloud transformation for media.

Customers in all industries are moving workloads to the cloud, but the media and entertainment industry has only started to see widespread migration to the cloud in the past several years. Media workloads are highly complex with multiple vendors and bespoke workflows. Video providers want to be certain their core media business will function at least as well, if not better, more efficiently, and more cost effectively in the cloud than their on-premises workflows have done for decades. At the other end of the spectrum, countless media startups have launched quickly in the cloud, avoiding the limitations of legacy on-premises solutions and disrupting the old, established media landscape. These innovative disruptors running their media solutions in the cloud often describe how running their solutions natively in the cloud provides them the agility to move faster without up-front capital investment, and to reach more customers.

The good news for pay TV operators, service providers, and content owners is that they, too, can leverage AWS services and the unparalleled breadth and depth of technology offerings from AWS Partner Network (APN) partners to achieve the agility, availability, global reach, flexibility, and pay-as-you-go pricing, whether that involves an “all-in” migration to the cloud or takes advantage of a hybrid architecture to maximize ROI on existing on-premises investment. The question for customers looking to migrate their media workloads into the cloud is, “How do I get there?”

There are a number of myths about cloud transformation for media. As an APN partner, Divitel brings more than 20 years of experience in the video industry to help customers use data-driven predictive automation to innovate and accelerate their cloud migration.

Myth number 1 – Migration is simply a question of replacing

Have we said media workloads are complex? Media customers cannot simply replace some components with cloud technology and expect things to be better, more agile, or more efficient. Each customer has parts of their legacy media workflows that work well, and parts that create limitations. In an ideal world customers would just replace everything at once, but in the real world this is simply impossible. In almost every case, customers have invested in certain on-premises technology in the past and still need to complete a return on that investment. Typically, this means media customers will need to migrate step by step, keeping risks to a minimum and maximizing legacy ROI while leveraging hybrid workflows for some time.

Fortunately, AWS provides services to enable virtually any combination of cloud-based services and on-premises technologies for just about any workflow imaginable. Equally important is the full range of technology solutions across the entire video ecosystem from APN partners, all running on AWS, which allow customers to run any part of a media workflow, or entire workflows, on AWS. There are options for everything from secure ingest of content to content protection, content and asset management, traffic scheduling, billing, advertising, rights & entitlements, all the way through distribution. There are options for customers to build and run their own workflows, options for fully-managed end-to-end solutions, and every combination in between.

But where does a customer start? Which components should a customer replace with a cloud solution and which ones should they keep on premises, and for how long? Customers need to develop a detailed migration plan which identifies the current pain points and limitations in their legacy on-premises solution, which cloud-based technology options can best replace them, and a timeline for migrating other legacy components to the cloud. Fortunately, the sheer number of AWS services, APN technology partner offerings, and Divitel’s expertise make it easier for customers to create a clear migration plan with data-driven insights and automation to accelerate and simplify video workflows. A migration plan does not have to be complicated. In fact, a good migration plan will help simplify and streamline legacy workflows.

Myth number 2 – Migration is a technical subject

We often see the following scenario. A media customer wants to keep their legacy operation going for as long as possible and at a certain point switch from old to new with a click of a button. They hire a consultant who formulates a migration plan and when finished, the customer migrates by clicking and deploying and they (think) they are done. In real life, that simply does not work. Media workloads are complex, right? There is more to a successful cloud migration than just the technology. Cloud services and cloud security work differently than on-premises components. Employees need to be trained and they have to the have the time to learn. Also they need to understand why this change is needed, how their roles could change, and be assured there is a plan for them to learn how to work with the new tools. Some employees will be excited at the opportunity to learn, and others will be apprehensive. There might be entirely new skill sets required and this might require recruiting, hiring, and retaining new employees.

There will also be new business rules, reporting, and KPIs required. There will be new opportunities to automate functions, new business insights to gather, and entirely new insights into subscribers and subscriber behavior. There might be brand new opportunities to reach new and more subscribers. There might be new ways to monetize content, and better ways to protect your content.

With all of these new opportunities come new questions. How does the senior leadership help these people get on board? How does an existing business educate and train (and recruit) employees, balancing that with their existing job maintaining the legacy video service? A successful migration plan includes all of these considerations. Divitel’s experience is that often times the best solution is to temporarily outsource the new operation to a cloud-migration expert that knows cloud-based media workloads and the AWS tools that can help streamline the transition. While it is certainly possible to do all of this without external help, most media customers want someone who knows media and cloud migrations, and who can get everything going and train all of these employees to take over when the time comes. A comprehensive migration plan takes into account all of these non-technical aspects across the entire business. Having someone who has “been there, done that” successfully is an important step to avoid mistakes or omit key internal stakeholders.

Myth number 3 – Migration is pretty much the same as outsourcing the data center into the cloud

Migrating is much more than simply duplicating old legacy workflows into a new hybrid architecture or “all-in” on cloud infrastructure. The reason is simple. No one would want to replicate limitations or mistakes from the on-premises solution into the new one. Doing so could make the new solution more expensive and inefficient. Organizations that view the process as a transformation of their video workflows instead of simply as another technical architecture are to get the full benefits of migrating to the cloud, including scalability, availability, total cost of ownership, security, and faster time-to-market. When migrating to the cloud, customers also need to develop or adjust their data strategy, otherwise you are maintaining the old silos and with it, the limited view on the end-to-end legacy operation. Migrating to the cloud, even a hybrid solution, opens the door to a wide rande of data analytics, automation, and machine learning tools to increase valuable insight into new areas of the business and subscriber insight that can illuminate new operational efficiencies and subscriber engagement.

One of the reasons those “born-in the cloud” video operators are so agile and disruptive is that they have deeper insight into what their subscribers want and how they behave, along with greater operational visibility across their business from resource optimization to which content is generating revenue (and the content which is not). Media customers have a wealth of operational and subscriber data, but access to and visibility of this data is limited by legacy systems on-premises. Running solutions on AWS gives media customers access to automated machine learning tools to derive new insights from that information faster. Implementing a data-driven workflow provides 360-degree visibility across systems, processes, and departments to smash silos and create efficiency.

What differentiates Divitel from others? Divitel’s unique contribution to our customers is not only helping customers migrate the video operations onto AWS, but also in helping them create data-driven end-to-end solutions across the enterprise. Divitel combines more than 20 years of expertise in helping customers build video solutions with expertise in assisting customers develop migration plans and to migrate their video operations onto AWS, while also leveraging data to provide new insights to their video operations. Divitel offers consultancy, system integrations and managed operations, all  driven by data to help customers transform their video workloads.

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