APRIL 6, 2022

What Does Phased Cloud News Production Really Look Like?

A remote team works on a project within a cloud news prod

The industry is abuzz about cloud news production and its many benefits, like enabling remote collaboration, redundancy, and workflow flexibility.

While all true, newsrooms have large capital investments in on-premises hardware and software. Few, if any, are willing to replace those systems and established workflows whole-hog with a cloud alternative until their investments have been paid off.

Unless it's a greenfield site, news organizations are far more likely to tiptoe into cloud news production, exploring what does and doesn't work for their individual news operations. For the near-term, they'll likely find that the best strategy is to extract maximum value from on-prem newsroom solutions and augment specific news production workflows with proof-of-concept tests where appropriate.

For example, one of the first use cases of cloud news production might be creating news for online portals and social media. In this scenario, news technology managers could evaluate workflow concepts, such as putting a geographically dispersed team to work and testing the ability to connect securely to the cloud as well as to ingest and edit content therein.

At this initial stage, companies could also prove the concept of remote collaboration, creation of news content, and publishing high-quality work across multiple digital and social platforms.

Beyond Dipping Your Toe In: The Journey to Cloud News Production

Each successive step in evaluating the cloud for news production can put additional cloud benefits and workflows to the test. Once past the initial phase, newsrooms might do proof-of-concept testing on use cases for the cloud, such as disaster recovery, fast-turnaround production, and even full-blown news operations.

In the case of disaster recovery, decision makers might evaluate the viability of using the cloud for redundant storage, automatic synchronization of on-prem systems with virtual equivalents, the switchover speed from on-prem to cloud DR, and the performance of the handoff from on-prem to cloud—all while maintaining the safety of news content and assets.

At this stage, fast-turnaround production is another likely candidate for cloud proof-of-concept testing. Here, news technology managers should evaluate the ability of a hybrid system to ingest live SDI and SMPTE ST 2110 feeds with on-prem video servers and move signals into the cloud where users in various remote locations can collaborate on various production tasks, such as editing and graphics, and then publish the completed production to any digital outlet.

One of the most ambitious proofs of concept at this phase of the newsroom journey to the cloud is an evaluation of end-to-end hybrid cloud/on-prem news production. Unlike the fast-turnaround production evaluation, this proof of concept aims to answer whether a geographically dispersed editorial team can produce a full news show, including studio production.

The level of evaluation here is ambitious. News technology managers must test whether core services in the cloud and edge devices deployed on-prem can deliver everything an advanced end-to-end facility production system can. This means assessing system security, determining whether or not all media is accessible, and making sure that collaborative, work-from-anywhere workflows can be achieved.

Other important capabilities to evaluate include:

  • Editorial tasks of various users
  • The ability to upload media and schedule ingest of IP contribution streams
  • Whether or not incoming streams can be worked on immediately
  • Control of on-prem video servers to ingest content and feed directly to the cloud
  • How the system performs in regard to search, preview, and logging material
  • The ability to edit content, publish media, and send rundowns to on-prem playout servers and control studio operations

The last step in the journey to the cloud is full adoption. Before taking the leap, news technology managers will want to assess available scalability and redundancy, determine the resiliency of cloud-native operations, and test the availability of end-to-end news workflow components—including ingest, asset management, editing, collaboration, workflow orchestration, archiving, and graphics. They'll also want to evaluate support for multi-cloud deployment and examine the efficacy of hybrid workflow support to accommodate on-prem ingest and playout.

Not for Cloud's Sake

As proof-of-concept testing reveals success or failure, transitioning to the cloud in phases is prudent. Doing so also underscores the fact that moving newsroom operations to the cloud isn't for the sake of the cloud. Rather, it's to derive the benefits it offers to the newsroom at every stage of the transition.

Newsrooms will migrate to the cloud to receive real-world advantages, such as bulletproof disaster recovery, remote collaboration of geographically diverse personnel, future-proofing newsroom systems and workflows, and building in redundancy.

Newsrooms that follow a phased transition will find that they'll see tangible benefits at each stage, which will make it far simpler to let go of the past when that day finally comes.

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