Fast Mover: a talk with Signiant CTO Ian Hamilton

Signiant CTO Ian Hamilton
Neal Romanek
April 28th 2016 at 2:26PM : By Neal Romanek

Signiant’s Media Shuttle product allows users to send big, media industry-size files anywhere in the world at high speed. We interviewed CTO Ian Hamilton on how the cloud is changing the way the industry works


How has easy access to the cloud shifted Signiant’s service?

Initally our customers were the larger companies in the media and entertainment space, the large studios and post production houses. But what we’ve done recently is make our software much easier to deploy for smaller participants in the industry by shifting to SaaS (Software as a Service) products. The key benefit to those SaaS products is there’s much less for the customer to manage and deploy and worry about. They just get the benefit of the software.

The next big trend in media is people moving as much of their operations as possible to an OPEX model as opposed to a CAPEX model. And obviously things like SaaS and cloud are a part of that.

What processes will companies be migrating to the cloud?

The big thing that we see shifting to cloud is content aggregation and distribution because of the elastic nature of bandwidth and storage. This use case still has the same requirements as moving media between facilities or within a facility in that it needs to be fast and secure and reliable.

It’s really interesting how quickly things are accelerating in this area. Almost everybody we talk to says that management is pushing them to use cloud first and only look at on-premises storage when cloud isn’t practical economically or if there are security concerns – although those are going away as people get more comfortable.

We’re seeing that ultimately every company is a video company as they start to use video more and more

There are more and more people doing more and more content. Are you looking at companies beyond the broadcast space?

Absolutely. We’re seeing that ultimately everybody becoming a video company as they start to use video more and more. Especially with things like training and marketing activities. And having a SaaS solution that’s mainly cloud based allows companies without a lot of IT support to use our software. And it’s not just small companies that are taking advantage with us. It’s departments within larger companies, where they don’t want to be as reliant on IT.

The IT departments are realising their role is shifting too. They’re more about guiding users to the right solutions. Instead of in the past where they provided the full compliment of technologies that needed to go into the solutions.

I think the corporate video market is definitely looking for solutions that are easy to use and deploy and cloud lends itself to that obviously. They can really benefit from the SaaS approach. Their requirements also tend to work well for cloud workflows, say if you’re creating advertising or training content. The objective of that content is to be widely distributed within the organisation. and so in some instances the cloud infrastructure is a better fit.

Dropbox has been showing up at broadcast tradeshows. People say “What are you doing here?” and they say, “We’re in this space now.”

I think a lot of the things Dropbox is good for now are lighter weight assets. Things like scripts and low res proxies. But what people find when they try to use Dropbox for broadcast quality video is that is just doesn’t work. The file sizes are too big and the time it takes to move things are too long.

We try to offer the ease of use of Dropbox but with the professional quality and speed. But they’re definitely looking at this space. There’s no doubt about that.

Are people expecting more commodity IT solutions now, rather than specialised broadcast equipment?

I think people are much less willing to pay ten times as much for a piece of hardware that is theoretically media and entertainment specific but in its core has the same processor commodity IT has.

Companies used to have three networks. They had their IT network for standard office activities, they had their SDI network for video routing, and they had their production network for moving around files. Two of those networks were IP. The final stage in all that is putting all that SDI traffic over IP. When that happens, you can converge the infrastructure. With software defined networking capabilities, everything is just an IP port, regardless of whether it’s file-based, live, or IP stuff.

What is Signiant you looking for in the future?

The key thing for us is to continue building on the momentum and it’s hard to believe in 2016 that there’s still a oot o fphysical media to used files, but we want to keep building on the momentum of the move from on premises storage to cloud, which is where most fo the movement is now. We want to make that easier and easier and a better experience for our customers.