Why media companies need to overhaul IT architecture for the future

MEDIA proliferates around us everywhere today in a variety of forms, from the OTT content we glimpse as we go about our day, to the mobile films we carry around in our pockets. The leaps in technology our media platforms and file formats have undergone have radically changed the way the world consumes content.

Furthermore, social media and entertainment platforms are challenging traditional media’s chokehold on the entertainment industry, cutting incumbents out with low costs and ability to launch into broad audience bases with little effort. Unlike incumbents who have to deal with legacy products, the media companies of the future have few assets to manage, are more agile, and are already looking to the future.

Sevior says companies looking at Asia have to think about their medium more closely, especially the region’s incredibly mobile communities. Source: Dell EMC

This has proven to have had a radical impact on how traditional media and advertising agencies have had to think about how they are able to connect viewers with their content. Media companies globally are currently grappling with this crisis of identity and are working to build their platforms to be able to deal not only with the shift in consumption media, but also with demographic and infrastructure changes.

In order to get a better understanding about the challenges media companies have to face with regards to their infrastructure and offerings, Tech Wire Asia got in touch with Dell EMC’s Data Lake Scale Out Solutions chief technology officer Charles Sevior. His background at Dell has given him a deep understanding of the kinds of frameworks that work for companies looking to scale effectively and with purpose.

According to Sevior, companies looking at Asia have to think about their medium more closely, especially the region’s incredibly mobile communities. Unlike the West, Asia did not arrive at the mobile phone by way of the desktop, but was instead launched straight into the digital age with the smartphone as their primary screen of choice. As a result, it can be observed Asia’s population are at once incredibly connected, incredibly mobile, and incredibly local.

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“The growing number of devices capable of supporting digital media has provided consumers with an option to access content of their choice anytime, anywhere,” Sevior said.

“According to International Data Corporation (IDC) in an article on OnScreen Asia, mobility is crucial to the lives of many consumers and the survival of businesses in Asia Pacific, due to the combination of a fast-growing economy and a lack of fixed infrastructure in developing countries.”

The desire for mobile content in Asia must be met by media companies that understand how to create content specifically for the mini-screen. Broadcasters and media companies can’t expect to be able to simply adapt their existing content for an audience always on the go. Sevior says the world’s technology giants might control their audience’s leisure time for now, but local players have an edge with their deep understanding of local cultures and needs.

In other words, it’s time for a homecoming.

For local companies to compete effectively, they must do two things: hone their understanding of local culture and needs, and then bring their infrastructure up to speed to meet the next generation’s demands.

Mobile is the future of content consumption in Southeast Asia. Source: Shutterstock

“To satisfy the needs of today’s consumers, broadcasters need to augment the traditional content approach by delivering individualized content on demand, from any device,” Sevior said, by utilizing the power of data analytics and next-generation data aggregation technology which can paint a richer painting of broadcasters’ audience.

Many media companies are still resisting the need to shift to the future of media consumption, which can be seen in the kinds of infrastructure that have been adopted. The pervasiveness of video-on-demand and OTT platforms require a back-end infrastructure that can handle large amounts of data processing and complex programs that are the norm for companies looking to scale globally.

Sevior says media companies are being forced to “consider a more efficient and multi-faceted storage, compute and network infrastructure.”

“Media organizations are looking for flexible and agile platforms to not only expand their content libraries, but also to meet the dynamic growth in the number of subscribers and how they consume and experience media and entertainment.”

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Without a strong technology architecture to support an influx of users spanning the globe, companies can never hope to achieve the kind of success we associate today with Netflix, YouTube or Hulu. Sevior says Dell encourages their broadcaster clients to set up their own IP-based architecture, a cloud-like software able to support both linear and non-linear content delivery.

“The need for high-quality content delivery and live-streaming has resulted in a shift from hard-wired SDI-based systems towards more flexible IP-based infrastructure,” Sevior said.

“With the migration towards IP, broadcasters can respond more quickly to changing technical standards while reaping the cost benefits of a flexible and multi-faceted content production chain.”

In other words, by integrating their own IP-based architecture which can accommodate high storage needs and stronger broadband connections, broadcasters will be able to compete with the low-cost social media, VOD and OTT players. The IP-based technology is much more cost-effective than traditional tech that standard video transmission programs are built atop and can push out content across entire production and supply chains.

Furthermore, bigger storage solutions are necessary for the simple fact more capacity is needed to run next-generation file formats such as 4K video, which is increasingly becoming the norm today.

Sevior noted international player such as Zhejiang Radio and Television Group (ZRTG) have become one of three top provincial television broadcasters in China that are focusing on scaling their storage capacities in tandem with their content offerings and company growth.

SEE ALSO: Southeast Asia’s SVOD scene hotbed for competition and growth

“Selecting scale-out storage enables broadcasters to meet long-term performance requirements and expand online and streaming services in line with viewers’ adoption of the new platforms,” Sevior said.

“By employing IP-based infrastructure, businesses can enhance their broadcast workflows as well as gain agility and scalability to embrace and adapt to emerging technology trends.”