Dan Goman is the Founder and CEO of OWNZONES Entertainment Technologies, a pioneering technological force that’s transforming the Post Production and OTT industries with ground breaking innovations, from digital supply chain solutions to unique, customizable video apps.
Imagine you’re a small M&E business who in less than 7 years went from less than 500,000 users to more than 9 million. You’ve stood up a standard client-server architecture with a single customer database on a large data processor—and a monolith of a Java app talking to it—to serve up the content you have.
Then, you have a connection pool challenge … so you upgrade to a $5 million machine … and it still crashes.
This business? Netflix.
In 2008, the entertainment service was making the jump from shipping DVDs in the mail to streaming countless hours of movies and television–and these major problems with feeds, interruptions, and service were standing in the way.
So it hit them: they needed the affordable scale, security, and reliable agility of the cloud.
Businesses don’t have to be like Netflix to learn one valuable lesson
Netflix made the jump to the cloud and IMF built on a foundation of AWS, with a successful full cloud migration launch in more than 150 countries less than 10 years later.
While the process of migrating to the cloud may be daunting, its benefits can’t be overstated. Cloud migrations are about more than upfront costs. They are also about value. Features like content volume, streaming speed, and length of time they’ll need to access your content has an inherent value to the bottom line. By assessing each cost in this context, you can see how the cost and process of cloud migration can benefit your business.
And here’s the best part: if you do it correctly, not only will you be on the cutting edge today—but you’ll have the foundation to scale with tomorrow.
Three major steps to prepare for cloud migration
Now that you know you want and need the freedom to spin up servers in minutes instead of months, it’s time to break down the entire cloud migration journey.
It all starts with your pilot program. Business leaders, executives, and boards want to ensure that a cloud migration will actually reduce costs, moving from the margin drag of hardware to only paying for software services when used. Here’s where a strong pilot program can help prove out the benefits of cloud migration.
Once you’ve completed the pilot, you should start to see positive benefits like better application availability and uptime for the content you’ve migrated. This should help you get the buy-in needed to push the project into the next phase: scalable foundations. A flexible cloud platform ensures your team has not just a current environment that can handle the content you have to access today, but also all the business structures to get it done. That can span skills training and hiring to creating a brain trust of experts helping ensure strong cloud performance. This also means understanding the security and compliance needs of the content within your cloud.
Once you’ve laid the foundation, you’re ready for the full migration process.
- Preparation and planning: Assess the key performance indicators of a migration so that your team will know what success looks like, whether you’re looking to improve response time or decrease latency. That way, you can choose the migration process that fits your budget and goals while delivering the benefits you also need to prove return on investment. Evaluating your current infrastructure can help you decide if retaining a recently upgraded system makes more sense or if a complete repurchase option is better suited for your needs.
- IT infrastructure assessment: The best laid plans are still beholden to your current circumstances—and cloud migrations are no exception. Analyze what migration strategy best fits the current infrastructure, skills, and limitations of your IT team. This is where some additional planning might come to fill in any gaps you find.
- Design an approach: Often for large businesses, a phased migration approach represents the best way to migrate, sparing a barrage of issues for the internal team from an overnight overhaul. However, understanding security options, hosting environments, and the cloud architecture at work here can ensure that the plan you have for the approach takes everything into consideration. A strong cloud partner can also help you plan for the things you might not even know you need to consider.
- Migrating the application: This is where your pilot program experience and scalable foundation gets tested as you go from migrating just a couple dozen episodics to shifting the majority of the content library and the entire experience up to the cloud. AWS breaks down the six ways to do this into “the 6 Rs”: rehost, replatform, repurchase, refactor/rearchitect, retire and retain.
- Validating the process: Don’t ignore the functional, integration, security and performance tests that your team should run after the heavy lifting around migration is done. This is where you can ensure that your services are still functioning properly and any legacy system that you kept around is still interacting with the cloud seamlessly.
It’s easier to implement this process than you might think
As is so often the case in business transitions, this is much easier said than done. However, many companies have made the leap, usually through four main technical approaches to migration once the strategy is settled on.
Command line interface is often best with a rehost or retain strategy. This delivers a straight server to cloud migration, which means three things all businesses love: it’s the least expensive option, it’s the quickest option, and it affords an easy upload process. Because CLI is open source, it means there’s little configuration standing in the way of migration and utilization of the cloud services and functionality. While there are some technical details to consider with a CLI upload, many clients tend to gravitate toward this option.
Aspera connects the Amazon S3 bucket to another S3 bucket, computer, hard drive, or local storage option to complete a migration and hosting. (In fact, this option is so popular that we built our proprietary software to integrate with it.) Aspera also affords quick upload, but still is best suited for smaller volumes. This is where replatform, repurchase, and refactor strategies would fall.
AWS Snowball is the go-to for people who might be considering Aspera but find themselves with a much larger volume of content. While you’ll still find a suitable price point, because it’s transacted through Amazon with a direct line to S3 buckets, you’ll still have access to a quick upload. We’re talking as fast as one week for some companies. Replatform, repurchase and refactor is happening here with quite a large volume of content.
Files locator allows a direct plug into an existing cloud infrastructure. This provides major upside, as you can simply point to files without ever having to transfer them, but also some downside, with less security than other paths forward.
Cloud migrations aren’t free, but they are valuable
Let me guess: You are bought in on the process now, but the expense is still giving you pause. That’s true. Cloud migrations aren’t free, and when you hear numbers like $40 million a month for big players like Netflix to utilize their cloud services, it could feel intimidating.
Cloud costs generally encompass a few main areas: software (licenses and/or proprietary building and maintenance costs), operational (including employees, facilities, connectivity, etc.), administrative and indirect (which encompasses things like efficiency and productivity, easily forgotten and yet crucial to any balance sheet). Tools like AWS TCO calculator can help you get a sense of how these will compare with your current on-premise costs.
Remember, though, that we started this guide with the idea that these costs have to be balanced with additional value-based considerations. What is the value of a dramatic decrease in customer complaints with fewer server outages? Or of eliminating exponential increases and unnecessary hosting costs? Or the cost of running expensive on-prem servers when you’re only using them at 60% capacity?
Answering these questions internally will help put cloud costs in context.
Want to be a part of the rise of cloud technology and its adoption?
While it’s true that it feels like the whole world is moving to the cloud, it’s not just about keeping up with the Joneses: migration considered through the lens of costs versus value makes it undeniably crucial to your success.
For instance, Vice Media has reduced bottlenecks, problematic tool integrations, and lack of security and protocols through utilizing the cloud. Another company, Technicolor, is introducing a pay-as-you-go, cloud-based distribution and storage model to its standard fare.
And now that you have an understanding of the costs and process, you’re well positioned to learn more about the support you have to execute cloud content distribution, especially if you’re considering the new industry standard, IMF.