The deployment conundrum: cloud vs on-premises – why not both? Part 1

Multiple architecture options are available when designing your Media Workflow solution – what will work best for your organization?

By Mathieu Zarouk | 03/31/21

Over the past year, the COVID-19 pandemic has highlighted the importance of enabling contributions from home across the media production and distribution supply chain.

This has accelerated the transition to cloud-based solutions, which can often provide ways to address those challenges. But they do not come without technical trade-offs, and associated business transformations can prove difficult.

The good news is that this switch does not have to be a definite decision between cloud vs on-premises: hybrid models can offer more gradual transition paths.

The cloud question

When considering a transition to cloud solutions, several key benefits are usually at the center of discussions. For Dalet Flex systems, we have found that cloud deployments bring great value to our customers especially regarding:

  1. Elasticity: Media Workflows can require considerable processing power, especially when working with heavy production formats (e.g. Image Sequences). With auto-scaling capabilities based on Kubernetes, Flex can ensure cloud resources are made available when you need them, without generating extra costs when they are not used.
  2. Removing network bottlenecks: if a significant part of your workforce is accessing your system from remote locations, assessing cloud vs on-premises hosting solutions is key. Hosting this system on-premises can require high network performances. Host this system in the cloud and part of this network pressure will be redirected accordingly.
  3. Disaster Recovery: with numerous options available to deploy systems and back-up options in different datacenters and regions, disaster recovery is a key concern that the cloud helps address – and at a lower cost when coupled with auto-scaling functionality.

However, such benefits do not come without their own challenges that can complicate the strategic approach to either cloud or on-premises solutions. When it comes to Media Workflows, they are often linked to:

  • Performance: part of your workforce, especially editors, may require access to heavy high-resolution media files. Accessing those files through an internet connection can prove difficult and impact the user experience.
  • Egress costs: cloud providers traditionally charge a fee based on the volume of data read or downloaded from their data center. Solutions must be optimized to reduce those fees, that can otherwise add up to significant bills.
  • Leveraging existing infrastructure: if you already have an on-premises solution to orchestrate your Media Workflow, you probably cannot afford to let the underlying infrastructure investment go to waste. If elasticity is a key strength of cloud deployments, relying on your existing infrastructure to provide a resources baseline can be a good approach.

Cloud vs on-premises: the hybrid answer

Hybrid deployments do not require a strict cloud vs on-premises solution decision. With some components on-premises and others in the cloud, can allow you to get the best of both worlds.

When it comes to Dalet Flex hybrid solutions, we can distinguish two main categories: multisite deployments and distributed deployments.

The multisite model

In a hybrid multisite architecture two Dalet Flex sites are deployed: one on premises, and one in the cloud. Each instance is a full Flex site, able to run independently from the other.

We then deploy a Replication Gateway, in charge of replicating content and configuration between those sites.

The result is two identical Flex sites, but able to run independently if required.

Several business requirements can lead us to advise a Flex multisite design – amongst them we often encounter:

  1. Disaster Recovery: one great benefit of such architecture is the ability for each site to run independently, even if its sibling cannot be reached. If, for instance, the connection between the cloud and your facilities is interrupted users working on your local network will still be able to connect to your on-premises site, while users working from home will still be able to connect to the cloud site – and an automated synchronization will occur when connections are restored.
  2. Users spread around the globe: we work with a number of broadcasters whose workforce is spread over large geographical areas – sometimes across oceans. In such scenarios, opting for either a cloud or on-premises solution can become problematic. Users far from the physical location of an on-premises Flex site will encounter issues to get a smooth experience (even if only due to physical constraints such as latency). A multisite design can answer this concern.
  3. Getting started with cloud: a multisite approach can also be a step towards a gradual transition to cloud-based solutions. You can imagine a first step with a cloud Flex system used only for DR purposes or for people working from home, and see this site gradually grow along with new business needs, or as you progressively reduce your Flex on-premises infrastructure.

This is only the tip of the iceberg: the flexibility of our tools governing exchanges and jobs management between sites allows us to further tailor the architecture to your business requirements, even in more complex scenarios:

  • Replication policies allow you to define rules narrowing down replication to selected assets and/or configuration items.
  • The Jobs Remote Engine service allows you to trigger jobs on your remote cloud site from your local site.

If you are interested in better understanding how a multisite Flex deployment could help you, contact us!

The distributed model

You have probably guessed the main downside of multisite deployments: costs. Running multiple full Flex sites will result in a larger technical footprint than a single-site deployment.

Depending on your business requirements, spreading the components of a single Flex site between the cloud and your premises, a distributed architecture can offer an interesting alternative that allows for more flexibility compared to than an exclusive cloud or on-premises solution.

We will explore this option, typical use cases, as well as benefits and downsides, in the second part of this blog post!

Featured in: Cloud | Cloud vs On-Premises | Dalet Flex | Media Supply Chain | Media Workflows |

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By Mathieu Zarouk

Over the past decade, Mathieu has built first-hand experience delivering broadcast projects across Europe and Asia, going on to leading Dalet's EMEA/APAC's Professional Services team. In his current role, Mathieu is responsible for shaping Dalet's new generation of Media Workflow solutions.

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