Cloud & Blockchain: Challenges of Multi-Cloud and Multi-Chain solutions!

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Cloud & Blockchain following same trajectory: Concept of cloud, a virtualised compute environment, accessible via public network was transformative. Even though it fuelled growth and moved focus from slow moving mainframe vs minicomputer race & intel vs AMD’s GHz race, shifting focus to real work.

It also dropped the entry barrier for many real projects, which were waiting on bench for funds! a typical minimum CAPEX required to kick-start real-world problem solving. Due to cloud, a simple subscription allowed quick trial and build of the concept in real – to check viability.

Blockchain (the underpinning tech/security framework for crypto currencies) is following similar trajectory in innovation. Its breaking the barriers of entry for many projects requiring a SECURE & predictable security framework. Its helping rebuild trust on infra. Whether its rightly placed or still finding its grounding is yet to be established in large global & active business scenario.

Unfortunately, both are on track to becoming an island of tech innovation. Its not cost of operation, it about cost of moving content from one to another to make it consumption ready, in a secure way.

Consider cloud and how its been adopted in media world, a studio, making a future blockbuster uses one of the public cloud for its production workflows.

The post work is done by group of niche’ specialists – each using their own choices of mix of techs. A set of (or hybrid) virtualised environment along with public cloud from one of the well-known cloud providers. Further downstream, worldwide distributors use another mix of on-prem setup or hybrid and/or private clouds or heritage courier to ship the content to screen! Further down the distribution timelines, highly regulated broadcasters are facing similar dilemma of cost vs efficiency of moving to or adopting cloud in its core tech fabric!

The problem gets compounded when we need to accommodate multiple cloud providers with their own set of services and SLAs.

The challenge is around commercial construct and continuity of security across these different (and many times) discontinuous stages in content supply chain. How to ensure the workflow makes commercial sense at the end at box-office collection and that the security can be managed seamlessly – a sort of build it once and forget it! Reality is its discontinuous and comes with many grey areas – which impacts decision to move to cloud, choices around security (and may be compromises), eventually with disappointing outcomes for many.

The first hurdle comes when you want to pull content out from first cloud and push it to second set of compute environment on different cloud – so the post team can work on it using their favourite technology platform for their own speciality (it might even be on-prem)!

This problem emerges again and again – every time the content needs to be ‘handed’ to another player in the supply-chain/workflow, which requires specific way of working.

Consider, 8K camera capturing live action in Olympic, optical fibres carrying this to production room, from here the content needs to get to a transcode factory, making it ready to distribute it to different consumption devices. Eventually landing at a broadcaster, who might be actively considering moving to cloud and even adopting OTT in a serious way as part of growth strategy!

Content egress costs start making it difficult to design seamless workflow – spanning multiple clouds and ensuring continuity of security. Inter blockchain communication and ensuring continuity of security while traversing the multiple chain is still elusive. Who would police the police? Currently, blockchains are being deployed (for purpose) and there is minimal interaction among differntly designed blockchains/deployments.

Eventually, the solutions designed with these constraints, continue to become an island as they grow, among themselves depriving the benefit of scale and agility projected earlier.  The costs, interoperability, consitent security & operating SLAs are some of the hurdles, when removed the adoption would be much further and much faster!

‘Put it on cloud once and never let it get out’ can be a strategy or might be an option … however, would require serious discussion around how would it work in multi-cloud setup, to make it viable across end-to-end ‘from glass to glass’ or from ‘sensor to screen’! Till that time we continue to work with cloud and islands of technologies & innovations within the larger design/architecture.

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