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Top three hot topics of NAB 2019

By Jon Finegold | May 7, 2019

Before we completely settle after the whirlwind of NAB, I wanted to write down a few reflections on this year’s show. It’s always interesting to hear the topics that bubble to the surface in different conversations. This year, there were three that really stood out.

1. We are in a hybrid cloud/multi-cloud world

One thing is clear. The media industry is moving quickly towards a hybrid cloud/multi-cloud world. This was not only prevalent in much of the messaging and press activity from various hardware and software vendors surrounding the show, but it was clear in the Signiant booth in discussions with hundreds of our customers.  A few key takeaways:

  • No-one appears to be going all-in with one single vendor. Even Netflix, once the poster-child for Amazon Web Services, appears to be doing more with Google Cloud. We’re also seeing most Signiant customers using a mix of on-premises storage and cloud storage, and more and more from multiple vendors.
  • Cloud services are not commoditized. The big vendors are working hard to differentiate and continue to add new services to one-up each other. The cloud wars are on!
  • Cloud vendors are taking media seriously. There have been many key industry hires, new media specific services rolled out, and vendors negotiating long-term deals with large media conglomerates. These are all indicators that our industry is front and center on the radar of the big cloud vendors.

While these are all positive trends for the industry in terms of the pace of innovation and flexibility of options, this is adding more, not less, complexity for IT and operations. That turns out to be great news for Signiant as our products work with all types of storage and are seen as an abstraction layer, removing the complexity of dealing with multiple storage types, multiple cloud vendors and, of course, leveraging our acceleration to remove geography as a variable.

One of our largest customers suggested that Signiant shifts the power towards them and away from the cloud vendors, as their switching costs are as simple as logging into their Signiant portal and pointing a workflow at any of our supported vendors. People and systems in those workflows can operate without disruption or even awareness that the switch was made.

2. Transition from custom software/hardware to multi-tenant SaaS

If you were fortunate enough to be at the Devoncroft Executive Summit on the Sunday of NAB, you got to see a very unique look at the economics of the media technology industry from Josh Stinehour, Principal Analyst at Devoncroft Partners and former industry investment banker.  If his presentation appears online, I highly recommend it, and certainly this event will be on my calendar again next year.

In Josh’s presentation he talked about the challenges of vendors committing to every special request from their customers, and mathematically showed how many MAM vendors max out at around six customers as a result. This isn’t just a challenge for vendors, the economics that surround this impact everyone in the media supply chain. It not only has direct cost that maybe orders of magnitude higher than they need to be, it inhibits business agility.

As media companies look to compete with the likes of Netflix, Amazon Prime and even Google, many are starting to wonder if there’s a different approach. Is it time to sacrifice a handful of features that their tech team is telling them “they’ve always had” for the reward of agility and massive cost savings?

We certainly see this shift in thinking in our business, and this was highlighted on the NAB floor with many discussions around cloud ingest portals. Many of our customers are moving away from expensive, highly customized solutions for collecting finished assets from content producers around the world in favor of Media Shuttle. Shuttle has most of the functionality of custom cloud ingest portals, but is available as an off-the-shelf, multi-tenant SaaS solution. This offers huge benefits in terms of TCO and business agility, and the market appears to be shifting towards this type of solution.

At Signiant, we are of course proponents of SaaS. But our enthusiasm is beyond just the benefits to our business, it’s a good trend for the industry that this is now more mainstream.

3. Growing complexity of the global media supply chain

This is more of an ongoing evolution than a radical shift at NAB 2019, but one thing is clear, the supply chain is growing more complex each year. It makes sense when you think about how consumers demand content, on any device, at anytime, anywhere in the world. Content producers now have to distribute content in so many different formats across so many regions, each with their own regulations and processes.

Standards like IMF are emerging to help with some of the complexity, but one trend that seemed to be more prevalent this year than in years past is the reliance of smaller, highly specialized suppliers working closely with the large content creators and distributors. This was a hot topic in the Signiant booth as our customers are looking to us more and more to be the trusted broker to easily, securely and quickly move content between companies large and small, all over the world. This is something that is surfacing to the top of discussions, but it isn’t new to Signiant. In fact, we’ll have some announcements on this front in advance of IBC. Stay tuned!