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IBC 2023 Amsterdam: Will Cloud Still Take the Center Stage?

The countdown to the IBC broadcast tradeshow, scheduled from September 15 to 18, 2023, has begun, and the technology landscape continues to evolve at an exhilarating pace. One of the most significant questions looming over this year's event is whether the cloud will maintain its dominant position in the broadcasting industry. In recent times, the cloud has been hailed as the ultimate solution to numerous challenges faced by media companies. However, recent developments in the industry, such as the retirement announcement of Azure Media Services and a dip in AWS growth, have raised eyebrows and prompted a reevaluation of the cloud's promises.

IBC 2023 Amsterdam: Will Cloud Still Take the Center Stage?
Amsterdam by Marko Zirdum

The Cloud's Promises and the Reality Check

From its inception, the cloud promised unparalleled benefits to the broadcasting sector. Flexibility, cost reduction, and the potential to eliminate technical debt were among its key selling points. Yet, as we venture further into the cloud era, it becomes apparent that these promises are not always as straightforward to achieve as initially envisioned.

Flexibility: A Double-Edged Sword

Flexibility was a major driving force behind the adoption of cloud services in broadcasting. The idea of scalability and the ability to adjust resources on the fly aligned well with the unpredictable demands of the media industry. However, the increasing dependence on cloud providers has led to concerns about vendor lock-in. As seen with the retirement of Azure Media Services, platforms and services can be discontinued or changed, leaving companies scrambling to adapt or migrate their workflows. The flexibility that was once a boon can become a curse when tied to the fate of a single provider.

Reducing Costs: A Complex Equation

The promise of cost reduction through the cloud's pay-as-you-go model was a compelling factor for many media organizations. However, the reality is more nuanced. While cloud services might offer initial credits and cost savings, many organizations find themselves paying more in the long run. The hiring of cloud experts and the use of overpriced serverless resources can quickly erode any initial savings. The fine print of cloud pricing models, coupled with unforeseen resource consumption, can catch companies off guard, leading to unexpected expenses.

Technical Debt: Transformation or Transference?

The allure of shedding technical debt by rearchitecting applications for the cloud was appealing. Many organizations believed they were embarking on a journey toward streamlined, modern systems. Yet, the outcome has often been quite different. While cloud migration might alleviate certain technical debt, it can also create new dependencies. Organizations can find themselves locked into a specific cloud provider's ecosystem, making it challenging to switch vendors or revert to on-premises solutions if needed.

The Way Forward: A Balanced Approach

As we navigate the complexities of the cloud landscape, it's crucial to adopt a balanced approach that weighs the benefits against the potential pitfalls. While the cloud offers undeniable advantages, a blind embrace of its promises can lead to unexpected challenges. Organizations must remain vigilant, considering the long-term implications of vendor dependence, cost structures, and technical commitments.

Navigating Away from the Cloud: A Shift Towards Independence for Basecamp

In the ever-evolving landscape of technology, the concept of cloud computing has held a dominant position for years. Basecamp, a prominent name in the industry, had firmly planted one foot in the cloud for more than a decade, with its latest venture, HEY, operating exclusively in this digital realm. However, their recent announcement about leaving the cloud has sparked conversations about the actual value it offers, particularly for medium-sized companies with steady growth.

In their experience, the cloud proved to be most beneficial at two ends of the spectrum. The first end encompassed applications that were simple and attracted low traffic, allowing startups to leverage fully managed services without the burden of complex operations. The second end pertained to situations where demand was unpredictable and could experience wild fluctuations. The cloud's elasticity shone when HEY garnered 300,000 users in weeks instead of the projected six months.

Despite these strengths, Basecamp's decision to move away from the cloud is rooted in a recognition of its limitations. The cost savings promised by reduced complexity didn't materialize as expected. Moreover, they found themselves paying a significant premium for capabilities they rarely needed. As they evaluated their expenditure, it became clear that the cloud's promises weren't aligning with their reality.

A major driving factor behind this decision was the notion of ownership. By relying on cloud providers, companies were entrusting their operations to external entities, often conglomerates. In doing so, they inadvertently handed over control of their online infrastructure. This shift towards centralization runs counter to the internet's original spirit of decentralization, where the power and ownership were distributed across a diverse array of entities.

As Basecamp takes the initiative to navigate towards lower-cost, decentralized shores, they emphasize the feasibility of self-owned setups. They believe that the progress in tooling that enabled the cloud can be harnessed to manage one's infrastructure independently. Rather than being enticed solely by the allure of the cloud, organizations are encouraged to reconsider the benefits of running their own servers, with an awareness that this path can be more attainable than they might have been led to believe.

In the grand scheme of things, Basecamp's departure from the cloud signifies a shift towards autonomy, self-reliance, and a return to the foundational principles of the internet. It's a reminder that the technology landscape is ever-changing, and that organizations must continually assess whether their chosen strategies align with their evolving needs and values.

Cloud Costs can easily Add Up


Basecamp's journey underscores the importance of aligning technology choices with organizational goals. Their departure from the cloud echoes the "build or buy" quandary. With IBC 2023 Amsterdam on the horizon, recent industry developments emphasize the cloud's complexity. Amid promises of flexibility and cost reduction, reality can differ. Similar to Basecamp's introspection on ownership, media companies must assess cloud benefits against practical realities. Recent events, including Azure Media Services' retirement and AWS's growth trajectory, challenge the cloud's reign as the ultimate solution. By conducting comprehensive evaluations, media companies can navigate these uncertainties, making well-informed decisions that guide them successfully toward cloud solutions that genuinely fit.

Optimize your cloud vendor utilization for maximum benefit during peak demands, while directing your focus towards your core services for all other requirements

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Article written by
Sylvain Corvaisier (LinkedIn)Corvaisier Sylvain Independent Streaming Engineer
Last modified: August 22nd, 2023

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