I was quite pleased to be asked recently by a Canadian colleague what our “theme” would be for the upcoming IBC. For me, theme reflects the ethos of the Blue Lucy approach to trade shows, we don’t tend to talk about product features or the specific capabilities in our roadmap.
Development of features and connectors is just something we do in pursuit of delivering customer value. If an operator needs a connector to a system or service, we will build it into a microservice BLidget – which we’ve been producing at a rate of two a week for five-years. Listing 450+ BLidgets or detailing our CORE or UI functions in a tradeshow press-release doesn’t convey the value of our BLAM platform or approach. We prefer to showcase business-focused solutions, which tend to follow a theme that relates to industry business needs at that time.
Some will remember our cloud stand at IBC 2018 – it was very popular with the crowd, particularly after the show closed. At that time, we were about 18-months into the development of BLAM-3 and around a year out from the completion of the first customer implementations with PLAZA Media and Off the Fence. Our 2018 IBC cloud stand was a little tongue-in-cheek, highlighting the paradox of demonstrating a cloud-based platform from a dark hall in the Rai. Then (three years on from AWS’s acquisition of Elemental) the media and broadcast industry was finally beginning to appreciate the functional power and flexibility of cloud services. The trend – and our IBC 2018 theme – was very much about “cloud migration” which we thought was inexorable, hence the stand design – the cloud is now, and Blue Lucy is there, ready.
But the BLAM platform was actually designed to be completely infrastructure agnostic – so it can be deployed in any cloud, or on-prem, infrastructure. This is a core tenet of the architecture, although we forecast that the vast majority of deployments would run in cloud infrastructure. Five years on, we are surprised as to how deployments have manifested.
A Mixed Reality
Eighty percent of our customer base is operating cloud-ground “hybrid” BLAMs. These systems tend to have the core services of the databases and the application interface together with one or more workflow runners (the microservice orchestrators) running in cloud infrastructure, typically provisioned by Blue Lucy as a managed service. In addition, workflow runners are deployed on-prem’ at the operator facility. These manage on-prem storage, LTO libraries and other resources such as rights management systems, transcoders, file-based QC tools, edit systems (Avid and Adobe) as well as baseband recording and playout systems.
In hindsight, it was unwise for the industry to assume that the entire production and distribution capability would move to the cloud over a few short years. In many cases, it just doesn’t make sense: operators do not wish to move away from on-prem tools that are providing business value, and that are still being amortised. For distributors, the concept of forklifting their inventory, which may extend to many petabytes, to cloud storage doesn’t make economic sense. Using the cloud for distribution, particularly to FAST or OTT platforms is very common and workflows that utilise cloud services are extremely efficient. BLAM operators are using these pipelines for content distribution to fulfil content sales – this model of ‘leaving material where it is until it’s needed or can be monetised’ – is common. Equally, we have a number of customers who operate with all browse material in cloud storage, but delivery is fulfilled from cloud or ground – based on which is the most cost-effective overall. Naturally that logic is built into the BLAM workflows.
There are many and varied reasons why media operators cannot, or do not want to go all in for the cloud or why they wish to control the migration. So, it is ground-cloud, hybrid workflows which will form the basis of our theme for IBC2023 where we’ll showcase how Blue Lucy customers are harmonising on-prem systems and cloud services and applications to create highly efficient and cost-effective media workflows with BLAM. In short, we’ll be bringing the cloud to earth at IBC2023.
I plan to revisit this topic in more detail in the run up to the event but in the meantime do make an appointment to meet with us at the show. We are keen to talk on the basis of operational outcomes, we can work out the most cost-effective place to run the workload later, and even change our mind. We are at stand 6.C29.