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Is Public Cloud the right option for Post-Production Houses?


The post-production process involves so many important aspects from cutting raw film, combining that footage, to adding music, sound effects, and colour grading. And, depending on the size of the project, this process can take anywhere from a few months to even a year!

Storage is a key component that underpins the entire setup of a post-production house, their workflows and infrastructure. Some use portable hard drives or disposable media as a storage solution. And whilst these options are well-established solutions, they are not reliable or secure, especially as you grow and expand.

So what storage options are available? During the COVID-19 global pandemic, organisations were forced to move to remote working, resulting in a major shift towards cloud storage. Post-production houses were no exception to this transition and as we continue on this journey into the new norm' of hybrid working, cloud storage still remains a popular choice.

For a small post-production house who's storage demands can be a bit unpredictable in terms of growth and client requirements, there comes a point when they need to consider migrating to an object storage solution that's a bit more reliable, secure, and scalable but which option is best? Public or private cloud?

What is the difference between public cloud and private cloud storage? Private Cloud storage offers a platform that is highly supported and addresses a given workflow or problem that needs to be solved. It is possible to have private cloud platforms that are dedicated to one organisation or shared by many.

Public cloud is designed for hyper scale with global reach and requires third party expertise to implement and support the desired workflow or outcome.

Public Cloud vs. Private Cloud If you're considering a transition to public cloud, there are a few things to keep in mind:

Unpredictable Costs The cost of public cloud in creative workflows is far too unpredictable and those lovely large corporate discounts are not available to everyone, especially if your business is a small or medium-sized one.

For the vast majority of production organisations, predicting future content access patterns is impossible and as such the costs of data access is extremely unpredictable. Ironically, businesses are paying for access to their own content and when it comes to exit planning they are faced with steep, almost prohibitive, charges to move to 3rd party platforms.

Access Speed If you need access to your archive content you normally need it pretty quickly so having decent, reliable and affordable bandwidth can be an issue. If your content is sat in the coldest of archive tiers then content will be returned to you according to given SLAs and chosen cost structures. Again, unpredictable and unhelpful to production companies.

But wait, that's your data, isn't it? It is our mantra that our customers' content belongs to them, not us! Yet even today, there are storage vendors-MAM, DAM, and PAM vendors-and also cloud providers out there who force you to always use their tools or protocols to retrieve the content you own!

In the worst cases, they put the data into proprietary formats that ensure you are locked into them for data access and workflows. Your providers' SLAs are in their best interest, not yours, so be aware! Always read the small print.

If you are going to move content to the cloud, make sure every step of the supply chain adheres to the format rules you set. Data portability is not only important for moving to new platforms but also for using the data you own for multiple purposes. Content archived in one workflow should be available in all other workflows.

It is also important to consider a multi-solution, multi-cloud approach to not only protect against vendor lock-in but also against SPOF (Single Point of Failure), cyber-attack, or any other massive outages. Don't put all your eggs into one basket.

Metadata In many ways, the content and metadata are equally significant. If you can't find it, then you don't have it!

When possible, metadata should be transferable throughout the supply chain, maintained in an open format, and accessible via open APIs. Sadly, many content management services hold onto their metadata quite firmly because they view it as their crown jewels. Even if they don't transfer it when archiving to public cloud platforms, not all of those cloud storage platforms can support or handle more than a few items, so you must use a third-party programme to locate and access your own stuff.

Additionally, data analytics are more crucial than ever, but a lot of the material that is archived is dark media. Dark media is archival content that hasn't been indexed or categorised, making it impossible to search. The full archive must be accessible to analytics and metadata generating tools in order to make it searchable. Using deep cloud archiving platforms, it is either impossible or prohibitively expensive.

Media Archive Workflows To make public cloud platforms affordable, they have to be generic across all verticals. Many offer a just another me-too service. Specialisation needs people and expertise, which costs money. Some of the bigger players have media services they provide themselves, but there is, of course, an associated cost per play, and in the main, third-party applications are needed to make media work in that environment.

The biggest issue, though, is that content producers in post production need access to their entire archive, right now! This wouldn't be commercially viable (or likely possible) with public cloud alone.

Not forgetting PFR (partial file restore) - this wouldn't be possible from public cloud! Not ideal for a post production house who needs to sub-clip a section of content.

What Next? Whilst public cloud isn't the most suitable option
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