Published on 22 Feb 2024

By Chris Pulis, CTO, Globecast Americas


The cloud is clearly a central topic of conversation across the industry with its use constantly evolving and expanding. Here we speak with Chris Pulis, our US CTO, to assess what the reality of cloud use is, the advantages it brings and what the future holds.


  • From a wide industry perspective, where are we at with the cloud?


The cloud is being adopted at an increasing pace. I think everybody realizes we’ve reached the point that to remain relevant and to survive in the media business in the coming years, moving to the cloud is a necessity. I think the bigger companies have simply been able to educate and explore, and do all the things necessary to become comfortable, before some smaller players have been able to. But that’s also changing and changing fast.


Cloud technologies have reached an inflection point in terms of maturity now, driving a high level of confidence across operations, resilience, and even backward compatibility. Advancements continue in high-visibility areas like latency and latency management, which are always issues customers are concerned about. At Globecast we’re well ahead of the industry’s adoption curve and we’ve been servicing significant media brands via our cloud deployments for several years now. These include major networks like Hallmark Media in the US, Euronews in Europe and we service beIN Sports in Asia.


We’ve achieved a significant level of success satisfying our customers with our designs, operations, security and ongoing support.  We have established best practices based on years of experience in the cloud solution space and even our cloud providers seek our advice based on our high standards and experience.


  • How much does knowledge about/desire to move to cloud use vary across the world in your experience?


In terms of the broadcast market’s desire to move to the cloud, we see this as a fairly steep upward trend now. Even those customers that say they aren’t ready yet, it’s still a priority for them to understand the possibilities and many come to Globecast for our guidance on how to prepare. We are the ones the market is leaning on to enable this transformational change.


There are still some who may not be clear on the significant security advantages, sustainability and green technologies cloud takes advantage of and how moving to the cloud enables a much lower cost to scale and grow services once their services are in operation. But we’re happy to be a resource for understanding that value, consulting with customers and potential customers so they understand the full range of options.


The cycle of change in the business is continuing to accelerate in response to the high demand and changes driven by consumers. We are here to help all our customers to respond proactively to enable those new technologies and touchpoints for their customers.


  • We’ve long since moved from the cloud as a shared resource data centre to cloud playout and now beyond. How would you define the current state of play in terms of cloud service possibilities?


This has quickly shifted from the cloud being the location that replaced your on-prem data center, or central machine room in general terms, to being a fully integrated service engine; an elastic technology envelope that essentially has infinite capacity. Cloud has replaced the architecture paradigms of the last 20 years where you would deploy monolithic infrastructures and hub and spoke architectures that took a lot of effort to maintain and scale. Now we are essentially operating in a network environment where physical boundaries don’t exist and we can be much more focused on creating innovative solutions often simply by deploying code. It’s like being confined to building only in two dimensions and now we actually have four dimensions, the fourth being the small amount of time it takes to enable changes or additions to services like dynamic scaling by simply applying code.


  • Clearly the cloud is a core component – perhaps THE core component – of Globecast’s onwards service proposition. Would you agree with that and how would you define its use going forwards?


Yes. Cloud is a core component for Globecast. It’s taking the place of antennas as the cornerstone of our service operations. In terms of use definition today and on the horizon, we see the continued aggressive expansion with our primary providers as part of our multi-cloud strategy since cloud is also the interface with content consumers.


We are equally comfortable operating in a customer’s cloud of choice, which is important. Multi-region deployments are also significant for us since we have many large customers who want to continue to increase the resilience and reach of their services. With so much of the delivery and consumption being streaming, content owners recognize they have to be everywhere in terms of consumer access and they want to ensure they are always available to their growing customer base.


  • At IBC 2023, Globecast highlighted its cloud consultancy and managed services – are these becoming a reality or still some way down the line?


Our cloud consultancy and managed services are here and making an impact on the market and our customers. This had been well underway when we highlighted it at IBC and I’m happy to report we have a lot of engagement in this area and, in a few cases, with truly transformational new customers that would amaze you if I named them all.


Globecast is the premiere integration and managed service provider in broadcasting and the reason for our successes is our early and lasting experience in TV headends, streaming, OTT platform management, REMI, cloud playout and more.


  • What we are talking about is the outsourcing of technical operations by customers, supported by third-party SAAS technologies hosted by Globecast, using your overall cloud solution. Is that fair to say and how realistic a future is this?


Yes. Cloud and networks, they are synonymous with one another. For example, our customers who are world class content owners and/or platform developers, they have made a lasting impact on how we consume content but they realize they need an expert in live video to support them. Some of this content is incredibly expensive to license and they recognize the risk of taking their chances and working “the way we have always done things”. You want seasoned experts in your driver’s seat.


  • Globecast has previously mentioned the education process you have had to go through/are going through with cloud providers in terms of them understanding mission-critical video workflows/outages – where is that process at?


At the beginning, we started our journey with the cloud like many do; but cloud providers get something new with Globecast. We aren’t just any cloud services provider/user. If you host databases, email, or other routine business applications in the cloud, you will be well serviced because there would have to be a fairly significant issue going on with the network for users to perceive a significant reduction in QoS.


Live broadcasting is different. We deliver a new frame of video every millisecond. That’s the level of performance we operate in. A 10-second network outage is a huge impact in our business so our providers recognize this now and we’re helping them improve their technologies to meet our high standards. We’ve been able to provide the context and feedback necessary to establish Globecast as a leader in this space and as a result, the cloud providers take in our feedback and stay continuously engaged with us to make sure their services are ready.


  • How much of a challenge is it for the industry finding/training employees to the level required when it comes to cloud use?


In terms of training our team, there have been a lot of resources for us to tap into, firstly the providers themselves and we have really leaned into this. Certifications in Architecture, Operations, DevOps, and Security are part of our core curriculum for our employees.  They have now achieved numerous certifications with our providers. It’s basic to our business. We must do everything we can to ensure our employees will be successful servicing our customers and they are now as comfortable operating in the cloud as they were with traditional tools, and we are learning more every day.


  • Globecast has also deployed its enterprise business systems in the cloud to ensure resilience at that layer as well as to support our ISO 27001 certification achieved last year. What’s the importance of this?


Our move to the cloud isn’t just for broadcast services.  We have transformed at the enterprise layer as well.  Business systems like the email and accounting systems used to run the business and financial operations. We migrated all of those to the cloud for more resilience and as part of our ISO27001 certification readiness. They also perform better now and we have reduced the on-premise infrastructures like servers to an opex model.


  • What does the future hold?


As content technology and consumer demand evolves, the cloud will simply become a requirement that traditional on-prem operations simply won’t support, or certainly not without difficulty. Live sports and latency are still a huge factor and must remain a focus for innovation before the cloud can be the primary place for sports but there’s good progress there.


Proliferation of AI and advancements in enriching broadcast content metadata and driving more detailed performance metrics are making the cloud a requirement because it’s a software-based world. This will also enable continued hyper-regionalization of ad targeting, shoppable technologies and other things as consumers adopt content and marketing value from streaming, to wearable technology, and metaverse applications. These are vital when it comes to ad-spend and overall monetization. Get in touch to understand how we can help you begin, transform or accelerate your cloud journey.