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Big Fat Pipes to the Cloud

The Cloud. Love or loath the new terminology 99% of us have been using cloud-like services for the last decade (at least). Your first Hotmail or Yahoo account was Mail in the cloud, access from anywhere, no idea where your email is stored. It just is. But the cloud is immature as a complete offering when it comes to storage as a service. (Saas, STaas, Aaas, or whatever the industry eventually agrees on). For organisations/individuals who deal with relatively small files storage in the cloud can be a boon, to other industries with larger formats of content it’s a non-starter .

The reason is nothing to do with the cloud in itself (though using a cloud vendor as your sole repository for content does, possibly, leave your data held to ransom) it is the ability, or lack of, to move large files to and from the cloud. Companies operating in the creative industries are often crippled by the inability to quickly send/share content with clients or collaborators. The vast majority of this creative community are small to medium businesses 80-90% of who cannot afford fibre connections to their premises and their broadband connections just do not cut the mustard. Its like pushing a 16LB bowling ball through 1/4 inch copper pipes..

Video & Audio need Big Fat Pipes

The Creation and post-production of video and audio content is a collaborative affair often involving geographically separated teams. Whilst work can and is carried out on proxies there is often the need to share content in its native format. Life would be so much easier if the content could get there that much quicker.

Implementing Fibre to your business can cost £10-15k just to connect and £10-15k p.a there after.. 90% of the creative companies in the UK cannot afford that. Even Sohonet (one of the good guys) can be too costly for a large portion of the market. There are aggregation products like Synscy and Signiant on the market to help matters but the underlying problem lies in the infrastructure. Steve Duplessie talks in his recent blog about scarcity of power and floorspace .. if ever there was a scarcity it is in the communications space.

The View from OM

Until we all live life in the fast lane some industries will struggle to take advantage of the cloud

2018-06-28T09:23:02+00:00September 21st, 2009|


  1. Kashaan September 21, 2009 at 1:43 am

    Totally agree. Connectivity needs to improve a great deal before some of these cloud services show real benefit. We’re working on it.

  2. Steve Sharman September 21, 2009 at 1:49 am

    But for many applications, there may be little advantage to the cloud – so put metadata, control, collaboration, communication etc, into the cloud – but leave the video where it is. Chances are it doesn’t need to go into the cloud – if it needs to go somewhere, there, then it can go point to point, with the cloud tracking it. I may be wrong about that, but it’s an interesting point for debate, I think.

    Slight correction as well – even uncompressed audio doesn’t really need big fat pipes.

  3. NPT September 21, 2009 at 1:56 am

    “Slight correction as well – even uncompressed audio doesn’t really need big fat pipes”

    Tell that to the guys working with multi track pro-tools sessions needing to collaborate with remote engineers, artists or clients. It’s Digi-Delivery, FTP or nothing..

    I agree that the collaborative piece being pushed to the cloud would bring benefit. Shared workspaces etc. But then we are thinking of amending ways of working to solve an underlying lack of infrastructure.

    We all need big fat pipes. Ideally.

  4. Hugh September 21, 2009 at 2:32 am

    We need fat pipes. It isn’t a question of whether we can get away without them them today, but, like the country’s road, rail, airports, legal & financial systems, without real, fast & affordable data connections our country will not be able to develop ‘fat pipe stuff’ & will struggle to innovate, invent & compete globally.

    The technology exists – others will exploit it, with or without us.

    On the cloud storage point, well I’m still very uncomfortable about putting my data somewhere out of reach of eye, hand, or law but having seen how often production companies simply lose interest in their material after the edit (our libraries at both Molinare & Tele-Cine were stuffed with footage people wouldn’t take away) perhaps it isn’t one of their big worries.

  5. Steve Sharman September 21, 2009 at 3:03 am

    @NPT – You’re right of course, my thought was only that there is an fairly major difference between the size of pipe necessary for effective collaboration on full-res audio to that required for effective collaboration on full-res video.

    Great post from Hugh – but we should also bear in mind that better exploitation of small or even medium pipes is equally valid for success in the global economy at least in the medium term – there are many countries that are years from having even what we have, but want to push forward regardless – see the success of mobile-based payment and trading platforms in Africa, or Facebook slimming down to be attractive to bandwidth-limited places.

    It feels like the danger for the UK is as much about failing to innovate and compete with what we have as it is about not building out that new infrastructure that we do need. Given our long tradition of people in sheds coming up with great inventions that overcome or build on limitations, we surely should be able to do both.

  6. Nick Lambert September 21, 2009 at 3:27 am

    As an outsource company we rely on moving large files around the globe. Rather than look at the cloud as back-up, we see it as a repository. DropBox works pretty well for this.
    But the fact remains that very few have access to a fast connection as you stated. Having been around since the baud days of the internet things have improved. We just need a giant step forward, but with BT still owning the exchanges I’ll have to wait for ours to be upgraded. No hope of fibre where I live & work!.
    Having to budget time for download & upload of files is something we will all have to live with for a while.

  7. Glenn Hall September 21, 2009 at 4:32 am

    A useful topic to debate. Lets move past Fat-Pipes towards services in the cloud(s).
    I think we are a little stuck in “we’ve always done everything at 100%realtime and engineered some (ingest) faster, 4x or better”
    How long is it since we examined the value of fatpipe in an economic context viewed a cross the whole production requirement?
    I don’t think we need, or can afford fatpipe all the time.
    What cloud can bring us is many services, that can be delivered with an asymmetric (fat/thin/medium, partial/lumpy/donkey)link,..
    AND still be valuable.
    Storage in the cloud:-Absolutely YES, but with an asymmetric approach based on an economic utility. Sometimes we need more than we can afford, but not for long.
    Indexing and other services could then be cloudsourced (ouch, sorry)affording a wide offering, to many.
    Perhaps in the case of a storage system such as OM, there could be many new possibilities, such as putting object indexes in the cloud, and then rebuilding async content elsewhere, whilst routing transforms, and renders in a market approach.
    So, I have a Yes vote for cloud, and a plea for more forward-thinking. Lets not just re-engineer the world we have today (which does after all have a economic challenge or two) in a version “in the cloud”.
    reThink, this is full, really full of new opportunity.

    (and for reference I was lucky enough to spend a fair few years in HP Labs doing large scale media compute infrastructure, running server farms for media transforms (4K units in 3 continents with fat & thin pipes) Cloud as a genre hadn’t quite become common parlance, even 2 years ago, except in rarefied research circles. Now, at least its (on the way to being) understood far more widely.

  8. Polprav October 16, 2009 at 7:00 am

    Hello from Russia!
    Can I quote a post in your blog with the link to you?

  9. NPT October 23, 2009 at 5:19 am



  10. Bhavik Vyas January 15, 2010 at 2:13 pm

    This is a shameless company plug – but there are very elegant solutions that allow users & enterprises to use the b/w they have to push large content. We at Aspera are doing this on a daily basis for Media & Entertainment customers, allowing them to fully utilize their b/w for moving content, over any distance. We recently launched a digital import/export product for Amazon Web Services, Aspera On-Demand, which lowers the bar to cloud adoption…

  11. […] is one that I can see being resolved. As I have mentioned in a previous post and in our particular video needs big fat pipes in order to push content around. Not everyone has the infrastructure in place and at the time of […]

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