NAB 2019

NAB 2019 Reflections: Signiant's Jon Finegold on the Industry's Shift to Hybrid- and Multi-Cloud Workflows

Signiant had a very busy NAB last month and much of its focus at the show was around hybrid-cloud, multi-cloud, and SaaS offerings that the company believes will be the future of the industry. Among Signiant’s big announcements were the introduction of its new Jet SaaS solution to automate and accelerate the transfer of large files between geographically dispersed locations, a collaboration with cloudfirst.io that makes it easy for media companies to leverage modern multi-cloud environments, and new capabilities for its cloud-native SaaS platform.

In this NAB 2019 Reflection, Signiant CMO Jon Finegold addresses the top trends he saw at NAB (including the shift to a hybrid-cloud/multi-cloud world), how SaaS will impact the industry moving forward, and how Signiant is reacting proactively to the market’s rapid evolution.

What was your top takeaway from NAB in terms of trends?
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.  I have a 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.

How does this impact or change Signiant’s business?
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 technical staff. 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.

This also minimizes our customers’ dependency on any one cloud vendor. At NAB, one of our largest customers expressed appreciation for how easy we make it to switch between cloud vendors. All they have to do is log into their Signiant portal and point a workflow at any of our supported vendors. At the same time, people and systems in those workflows can operate without disruption or even awareness that the switch was made. That’s a very good trend for us.

SaaS is something Signiant often talks about — any SaaS trends at NAB 2019?
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, using MAM vendors as the example, that most 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 also inhibits business agility.

As media companies look to compete with the likes of Netflix and Amazon Prime, many are starting to realize there’s a different approach. Asking themselves, ‘is it time to sacrifice a handful of features that their tech and ops teams “need” 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 as one example. 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 is now realizing the benefits.

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

What new opportunities do you see for Signiant or media technology in general?
This is more of an ongoing evolution than a radical shift at NAB 2019, but it is clear — the media 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 many different formats across many regions, each with their own regulations and processes. And more complexity usually means new opportunity for technology suppliers.

Standard 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 role isn’t new to Signiant, but it’s becoming more important to our customers and we will have some announcements on this front soon. Stay tuned!

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