Ahead of the Trends: The Move from Enterprise Software to Services

Sohonet CEO Chuck Parker Examines a New Software/Hardware Paradigm in the Media Industry

Five or ten years ago, the vast majority of media & entertainment industry clients had a single model when it came to tools: they bought enterprise software, for which they paid an annual maintenance fee, loaded it on their own server, and had an IT department implement and troubleshoot it. The internal IT staff were the first line of troubleshooting and support, for everything from a software glitch to a server that needed an upgrade.

The downsides to that model have been widely reported and experienced– whether it’s a motion picture studio or a production company, the customer is responsible for maintaining, fixing and upgrading the infrastructure. The internal IT team is responsible until it’s a problem they can’t fix. Then they call Tier 2 external support – the software vendor, for example – and present them with the unsolvable problem. Everybody at the studio or production company is tasked with having a “muscle memory” of what’s gone wrong before, how it was fixed, what needs upgrading for the entire pipeline. That model – for good reason – is going away, and everyone who has relied on it has to get ready for a new way of doing business. If you’re a vendor, the world where you sold units of software and shipped them to productions or studios is coming to an end.

Software-as-a-service (SaaS) and Platform-as-a-Service (PaaS), with a reliance on cloud computing and storage, is rising to the forefront, in response to powerful market forces. First, content creation is exploding, driven by streaming services such as Apple, Netflix, Hulu, Disney, and others. It’s common now for a studio to have two-dozen productions simultaneously in some stage of production, or for a production to be shooting in global locations, reliant on vendors around the world.

The rise of the freelance labor pool is another factor pushing the trend of flexible production. Whether your artist is in Atlanta or Vietnam, this new cloud-based virtual model provides that artist real-time support, without depending on a vendor during work hours or being responsible for installing the software. Why invest in a 12-month software license when the production only needs it for two months? Why rent rooms with Avid systems when you can consume editorial services in a cloud from a virtual workstation? Why task your in-house IT team with fixes if the vendor is responsible for maintaining and supporting responses?

Depending on software and platforms as services and the cloud for remote collaboration with multiple creatives is the solution for studios and productions in today’s market. Streamlining their workflow in this manner enables them to add five more productions to the slate without dramatically increasing headcount or CAPEX costs.

That’s where we’re going, and quickly. In five years, media creatives and their vendors will all consume services in a cloud-based environment. SaaS and PaaS provide quality, simplicity, and an out-of-the-box experience. From a business model, it provides low price, high volume and allows mass customization and organic growth. If you’re a vendor, it’s time to adapt, because studios and productions will soon demand it – and will migrate to those that provide it.

That’s why studios and productions need to start the process now of migrating from legacy enterprise software to a new paradigm: Software-as-a-Service and Platform-as-a-Service, delivered with 24/7 first-line support. With the kind of cost structure that matches how productions consume services, it’s a perfect recipe for the media and entertainment industry.