Breaking news: how the media have been quick to adopt cloud

Media organisations have been quick to adopt cloud with several firms reaping the benefits of the technology

When people talk about the media, they usually mean journalism, but as Lord Leveson has been finding out, journalism covers a multitude of sins and so does the media.

So when it comes to look at how cloud computing is being adopted in media companies and the benefits it brings, it should come as no surprise to find a diverse range of applications and uses.

Take Trinity Mirror, for example, the publisher of the Mirror titles and the Daily Record and Sunday Mail in Scotland, as well as over 130 regional newspapers in the UK. The company had been using Lotus Notes to deliver email to Blackberry users before adding a mix of products including VPN access, BES for Blackberry and Good Technology so it could do the same for Android and iPhone users. But there were limitations on mail box sizes and on new features users could deploy so last year it decided to migrate to Google Apps, starting with Google Mail and Calendar.

With the help of a third party, Cloudreach, Trinity Mirror migrated 5,500 employees to Google Apps within 10 weeks, giving journalists and sales people better access to email at home or on the road, 25GB of storage for each account (eradicating mailbox size issues), the ability to personalise email and an authentication stage that uses their network password to access email. IT director Steve Walker is already planning to add Google Sites and Docs.

Cloud is an ideal technology for media organisations that operate in the increasingly fast-paced news environment

Pontus Noren, director at Cloudreach, describes cloud computing in this instance as “an ideal technology for media organisations that operate in the increasingly fast-paced news environment. With reporters using a range of devices to work across the globe, the remote nature of cloud means a range of devices can be used to file breaking news in an environment where every second counts”. Google Apps can help journalists to work flexibly and collaborate with each other on stories without the hassle of having to navigate traditional IT systems, he adds.

Cloud computing can also help traditional news organisations combat the rise of “free sources” of news which are squeezing margins, Noren argues, by delivering “significant cost savings” compared to a traditional IT infrastructure.

Cloud benefits
Peter Godden, EMEA senior director at Coraid, focuses on the benefits cloud computing can bring to online promotional campaigns. The flexibility and scalability it can provide allows media companies to “cope with sudden increases in traffic created through, for example, the successful launch of digital campaigns”. A cloud model gives media companies the ability to “flex their IT architecture to support different promotions”.

He says media companies often use a hybrid model of on-premise and cloud computing. “They may not want their CRM or their client’s CRM being handled by anyone outside their office,” Godden says, “but for marketing campaigns they might ask “why am I bothering to build this architecture?” and use the cloud to bolster resource when and where needed”.

Jeremy Neal, head of online services at IMGROUP, says the potential for cloud computing in the media sector was publicly demonstrated to him when Channel 4 presented at a cloud conference two years ago and declared itself to be a “cloud first” business. The intention was to build and design applications and services for the cloud unless there was a compelling reason not to.

Neal says cloud platform vendors are now providing much of the core infrastructure for content creation, editing, production, distribution and consumption as a service. This gives media businesses the opportunity to reach new geographies without the traditional upfront cost.

Investment by cloud platform vendors in media infrastructure and distribution technologies is also giving media companies the opportunity to meet the expectations of users and businesses from the explosion in mobile devices and the arrival of 4G communications networks that is making video on-demand (VoD) the “new normal” for marketing and content delivery.