Cloud Computing in Post-Production

Balancing Cost Advantages in the Cloud with the Performance Requirements of Real-Time Workflow

“The cloud” has existed for decades. Remember when the official graphic symbol for the internet was an “evil” cloud? Today, however, cloud is one of the most frequently used buzzwords. So many companies seem to offer a solution with or in the cloud, and it appears that at least one part of many software solutions or hardware set-ups has to be in the cloud somewhere and somehow.

This is an interesting development, considering that, compared to just a few decades ago, the method of collaboration and utilizing both hardware and software has changed fundamentally, moving away from large mainframes from former market leaders such as IBM, SGI, Cray, and others to personal computers. Although PCs have become more powerful and affordable, this approach had two major downsides: post-production facilities require high-end workstations that are powerful enough to handle all the applications as well as provide sufficient render power. In addition, the maintenance effort for all individual workstations is enormous, and keeping all workstations up-to-date with the latest software version is a costly endeavor.

At the end of the 90s, a few companies realized an opportunity to cut expenses for hardware and software updates by centralizing their applications and moving them onto the internet. Without sacrificing functionality, new web-based versions of certain applications became accessible via a generic internet connection, and the idea of an application service provider (ASP) was born.  Similar to a terminal server-based infrastructure, the maintenance burden of every application was taken away from the individual workstations and shifted to a central location — to the cloud.

In 2001, software as a service (SAAS) arrived. Based on the same idea as ASP, SAAS provides a rental model for software whereby the software lives in the cloud. Post-production facilities can access any desired application via the internet. There are  some differences between ASP and SAAS, but basically both solutions go back to the mainframe idea of the 1960s, where large vendors provide the computing or render power and users benefit from the cost savings.

The trend is obvious and the intention to pursue it becomes even clearer when looking at the company talent of organizations that are already big players in the field. These vendors primarily seek personnel to join their team who are familiar with and contribute to solutions around SAAS.

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