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Media & entertainment industry data centres being pushed to the edge

27 Apr 2018

The term ‘the edge’ has been floating around for some time now, but only recently has really begun to gain traction.

Schneider Electric data centre business development director Russel Senesac says the media and entertainment industry is now powered by edge computing due to a number of factors.

“For the most part, the Internet of Things (IoT) works on the principle of gathering data from the many connected devices we all use on a daily basis. Bringing the source of the compute closer to the point of consumption is a challenge the media industry sits at the forefront of – from high end processors producing the latest visual effects to a smart phone looking to stream video without buffering,” says Senesac.

“New sources of data from connected IoT devices helps media companies enrich what they know about their audiences and influences how they present content directly to you. These data sources serve two roles, ensuring that the best performance is delivered in the moment, while over time serving as a data set providing analysis that will allow for even better performance and capabilities delivered because of these insights.”

Sensesac says garnering these insights intensifies the industry’s dependency not only on data by also on the systems that gather, transport, process and store that data.

“Couple this trend with today’s societal demands on instantaneous connection and our zero tolerance for latency, and you find a media industry that, according to Accenture, is spending 54 percent more on IoT in the last three years,” says Senesac.

Senesac has identified three specific trends that show the impact of IoT on the media and entertainment industry - content creation, distribution, and consumption.

Content creation requires technological scalability

“The level of complexity to produce advanced cinema has moved beyond the challenge of developing a well-executed art project. Engineering now plays a critical role, requiring increased levels of compute power to support media industry digital requirements. Consider, for example, Animal Logic, which is one of the world’s leading independent creative digital studios. Their production staff created over 600 visual effects in support of the 2013 film, “The Great Gatsby,” says Senesac.

“Pulling off these visual effects requires a sophisticated technology backbone. Scalability of compute power physical infrastructure (servers, storage and the power and cooling that supports these IT systems) is one of the major challenges that growing studios face. Power and hardware needs to be engineered efficiently so that costs can be controlled and so that systems uptime can be maintained.”

5G now impacts content distribution speed expectations

“According to Ericsson, communications network operators will spend $1.7 trillion on equipment upgrades to support 5G between now and 2020. You and I and all of our friends expect 5G network responsiveness to be high, and significantly exceed the speed and bandwidth of today’s 4G networks,” says Senesac.

“If the physical infrastructure is not aligned to support the change, the network will fail. 5G communication is projected to perform upwards of 1000x faster than 4G. This means you’ll be able to download a full HD movie in a matter of seconds, versus the hour it may take on the 4G network of today.”

Senesac says this won’t happen automatically, as the ability to rapidly download large quantities of data requires a physical infrastructure that can support edge computing, implying small pockets of computer power and cooling infrastructure located close to end users. Fortunately, cell towers already have the space that is safe, secure and wired to support the small data centres that required.

Content consumers will not tolerate latency

“According to Google, 53 percent of mobile users abandon sites that take over 3 seconds to load. None of us can stand waiting for our iPad screens to respond to our touch. Content consumption habits, for business-critical transactions and entertainment alike, require instantaneous data transfer,” says Senesac.

“If we experience too many loading delays…game over. However, these latency issues cannot be resolved by far off cloud data centers. Edge computing facilities will need to be deployed in order for content speeds to meet consumer expectations.”

Sensesac adjustments on the technological back end will need to be made in order to get the device response speeds people demand for both business-critical and entertainment data consumption, with both edge data centres the size of a small bedroom and large cloud data centres needing to work together in a hybrid ecosystem.

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