The Cloud: It’s Not Just for Subscribers

Cable operators are deploying content on more types of devices, delivered in new and different ways. Yet why is it that MSOs are often the cobbler’s children in terms of technology — putting it out there for consumer consumption but not to better their own margin?

At a time when the corporate world is eagerly embracing the single most transformative technology change of the past decade — cloud computing — the cable industry’s response has been tepid at best.

Hype aside, MSO adoption is still in its infancy, with pockets of cloud deployments that are mainly limited in scope.

It’s such a missed opportunity. The problem is that individual users aren’t waiting around. What ensues is a power struggle that can lead to the CTO banning all access — not a popular option — or driving forced adoption of some solution that teams may not feel meets their needs.

Recent deployments at Fox, at pay channel operators and also at a major multiplatform content provider to multiple U.S. MSOs dispel three myths about the cloud.

(1) The cloud leads to departmental anarchy. The ease with which users can set up personal Dropbox accounts can inspire queasiness for IT teams. The myth is that once you let in the cloud, an IT department loses its oversight role and its understanding of the benefits being attained by each department — let alone its ability to leverage economies of scale.

The reality is that it’s possible to encourage users to test out and play with specific cloud technologies and, critically, provide feedback on their viability and value. This enables the business to exploit innovation without any risk of cloud chaos.

(2) The cloud makes IT lose control. Users have actively sought out and embraced solutions without IT input for a reason — and are gaining quantifiable value from them, even if these rogue deployments complicate centralized IT control. The myth is that fragmented adoption of cloud technologies radically reduces the corporate return on investment from IT initiatives.

The reality is that it’s possible to transform the entire model by selecting either broad solutions or frameworks of solutions that CTOs offer to the organization, with no particular recommendation or forced adoption. Users perceive the solution to be self-selected, while IT has the benefit of central control and visibility.

(3) The cloud is a security breach waiting to happen. Effective, secure data sharing is fundamental to the broadcast business, if only so there’s a single location for all production footage. The myth is that using the cloud will lead to whatever breach of the week is in the headlines.

The reality is that with multilayered security, reliance on private clouds and best practices as defined by industry standards groups, the biggest names in the media and entertainment industry are already achieving stunning results, including an 80% lower cost of distribution, saving one week in seven for production shoots, and overall cost savings of up to 30%.

Forrester Research analyst James Staten reminded the industry that “digitally disrupting yourself is necessary and doable.” It’s time for the MSO community to get serious about the cloud as exactly the kind of disruption it needs to assure a healthy future.

Mark Overington is president of Aframe North America. He was part of the founding team at Avid Technology and its former head of marketing.