The role of the cloud is changing the way that entire industries are being run, and publishing is no exception. Large media companies such as Time Inc., the Hearst Corporation, and AOL have already benefitted from moving data centers to the cloud.
What makes the move to the cloud attractive to media companies is that cloud technology not only enhances the ability to create and deliver content to customers, it also provides a way to significantly reduce costs associated with on-premises data centers. Cutting infrastructure costs by moving storage, production workflows, and content delivery to the cloud can be directly reinvested into the company.
This post will look at some of the basics of how cloud computing offers a revolutionary way to transform how media businesses operate and how the cloud can meet specific challenges faced by publishers and media companies.
What the Cloud Does
Traditionally, media companies and publishers have used on-premises data centers that house large numbers of servers to meet their computing needs. In the past, that was a configuration that worked: the data seemed safe and sound, and any problems that came up could be addressed in-house by the IT department. The problem with that model is that it is extremely expensive. Those servers take up a lot of room: valuable office space that has to be rented, or that could otherwise be used by a company. These physical servers also lacked the ability to scale with demand: if there was ever a need for more compute power or storage space new machines would have to be added to the room.
In a content-focused industry, those kinds of expenses and logistical problems could be detrimental to the success of entire companies. For a media company such as Time, which, like many media companies, is located in New York City, the price for the office space required to house a massive data center was astronomical. Factor in the expense of maintaining the data center, and a media company’s IT budget can be one of its largest expenditures. Only a fraction of that cost goes into hosting data in the cloud. The cloud also provides the content creation and management tools that can increase workflow and enable faster production, which is more important than ever for media and publishing companies.
Media in the Cloud
There are proven benefits for moving a media or publishing company to the cloud, and a number of cloud providers from which to choose. In the case of the three media giants mentioned at the beginning of this post, AWS Cloud services provided all the solutions that these enterprise-level companies needed. On the most basic level, the move translates to faster workflow and lower costs. But the move will have an impact on a more existential level. Competition is driving the operational-side of publishing companies to reduce costs and increase efficiency. The cloud presents the easiest way for an IT department to do both. With less in-house technology to maintain the core of the business—finding new talent, publishing books, engaging readers—can resume its place as the primary focus of the company.
On the operational side, the cloud enables faster workflow by keeping employees—no matter where they are in the world—on the same page. Through the shared applications like Adobe’s creative suite Adobe Creative Cloud and Google’s shared documents application, Google Docs, the cloud may already be an integral part of how media companies already operate. Concerns that lack of internet access might interfere with workflow are not the problems that they once posted. The cloud presents the fastest way for creators to reach audiences, which is an edge every media company needs to have in their market.
Moving Publishers to the Cloud
Whether relying to their own in-house IT departments or going with a managed service provider, adapting an existing data center to the cloud is a move that has to be done with technical precision. Not every publisher is going to have the IT resources to do the job on their own.
Managed service providers provide all of the services necessary to run a company on the cloud, from migrating on-premises systems to optimizing cloud usage for cost-efficiency. If the cloud infrastructure isn’t closely monitored, there is a real danger of incurring hidden charges for cloud services that aren’t necessary, or that they aren’t aware they are using. It is important to keep a careful watch on usage. An in-house IT department may not be sure what to look for, or know how to address problems such as unused VHD disks when they arise. In these cases, it is good to turn to third-party management and automation to fill in the gaps.
Staying Up, Staying Secure
Publishers and media companies have industry-specific security needs. If there is any reason why these companies are hesitating on a cloud transition, this may be it. How does the cloud adequately address publishers’ need to limit access to their content?
Backups are essential to retaining data in case of catastrophic system failures. Content is the lifeblood of a media company: the longer that content is offline, the more revenue is lost. Advertisers don’t stick around with publishers who charge for ad space that no one is going to see because the site is offline. The cloud offers solutions to make sure that data is backed up regularly and automatically (for instance, using AWS automation tools), securing data without the element of human error. High availability ensures that sites can quickly recover from attacks and outages. Redundancy makes sure that failovers won’t keep sites offline, workflow from coming to a halt, and users from consuming media.
Solely relying on on-premises data centers and IT departments for cloud disaster recovery (DR) is a strategy that doesn’t ensure a media operation will have the kind of availability necessary to continuously deliver content to consumers. If a full move to the cloud isn’t on a media company’s horizon, a hybrid cloud solution that allows for communication between existing on-premises infrastructure and cloud architecture is an option that can provide additional agility. But as the AOL case study shows, even creating a private cloud with thousands of nodes can’t compete with the kind of unlimited compute power provided in the public cloud.
For some companies, the risk of data loss is considerable enough to seek DR tools outside of their own IT departments. Such tools work with your environment and the existing cloud infrastructure to make sure that data is automatically and easily backed up. N2W Software offers Cloud Protection Manager (CPM), a full-featured cloud backup, recovery, and data loss recovery solution for enterprise-level companies.
With other major industries such as healthcare, finance, aviation, and higher ed moving to the cloud, it’s hard not to see the cloud as the inevitable choice for publishers. Media companies and publishers are best when they can devote their energies towards telling stories, sharing news, and entertaining people—not when they are trying to reinvent the technological wheel. The cloud offloads that burden from media companies, and makes Everything as a Service a reality.
Relying on the old methods can be the kind of mistake that will make it difficult to compete with competitors who have already started to expand their businesses thanks to the cloud. There is a definite edge gained by media and publishing companies that get from the savings and increased capacity that the cloud gives their media operations.