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32 TECHNOLOGY FEATURE: CLOUD SERVICES

Get ahead in the cloud

May 2017

Key Points „ Cloud services offer significant benefits across the AV industry: to users, integrators and content creators „ Initial fears of security failings have been mitigated and the cloud is accepted widely through commercial organisations „ Individual sectors within AV experience specific advantages through the use of cloud services, but all benefit from core advantages „ Growth in uptake is increasing and set to continue into the future

Cloud-hosted services have boomed in the IT application sector. But to what extent has this trend been replicated in the AV industry, and how does it affect different services? Steve Montgomery reports

I

n the late 1990s and early 2000s there were many, supposedly independent, predictions about how computers would be used in the future, most of which centred round a move away from intelligent and powerful devices to lighter, less powerful ‘thin clients’. In this scenario, most of the processing and data storage tasks would be undertaken in remote silos and delivered directly to end-users for immediate consumption. Those predictions were carried out primarily by large computer organisations, including IBM, Hewlett-Packard and Oracle, which had a vested interest in steering the industry in that direction. As we know, this ‘revolution’ did not happen quite as predicted, for a number of reasons and we all continued to endure carrying heavy, power-hungry laptops with us. However, those predictions are now coming true; perhaps not as envisaged, but in wider and more fruitful ways that weren’t predicted in the past. We refer to this technology as cloud-based, often now as just ‘the cloud’. As Libby Davies, content manager for Signstix, points out: “The first wave of popular cloud-based services has already happened. Googlemail, Office365, Dropbox, iCloud are examples of these types of applications that are used every day by millions of people around the world. Cloud-based solutions will continue to grow in popularity as people gravitate towards the flexibility,

convenience and scalability that they offer, and all at vastly lower cost and maintenance overhead than on-premise solutions. The key advantage of the cloud is that it is inherently much more flexible than on-premise solutions. In turn, this means that cloud-based digital signage solutions are incredibly scalable, and what is more, they can be easily expanded in line with client or company demand.”

‘The fact is that AV integrators need to deeply understand IT today’ Joshua Castro, Atlona

At the same time that always-on, highbandwidth wireless networks have enabled us to connect no matter where we are, the main restraint on take-up, the issue of security, has largely been overcome. “It is only natural for companies to have reservations about security when they don’t physically know where their data is being stored,” she says. “However a reputable cloud-based provider will have strong

data integrity, and the appropriate compliance certification to store private data. Platforms such as Amazon cloud services have some of the strongest security infrastructures in the world. Service providers using them as a base for their products can leverage these platforms to the benefit of their clients. A reputable provider will also take extensive measures within their own software development to ensure that all sensitive data is handled and stored securely.” Jeffrey Weitzman, business development manager for Navori Labs, agrees: “There is a marked tendency toward cloud-based services. This is a big difference from just two years ago, when many IT departments strongly preferred to keep everything in house. There was significant concern about security, control and ownership. This is changing as core solutions become more prominent in the cloud, with companies like Microsoft launching cloud-based products like Office365, along with secure service providers Azure, Amazon Web Services and Rackspace. Businesses are now seeing the potential opex savings of not handling everything in-house, and instead outsourcing certain operations.”

Not as rapid This expansion in take-up of cloud services is having a positive impact on the AV system integration industry, across the full range of sectors it serves, although it is not as rapid as

Installation May 2017 Digital Edition  

AV integration in a networked world

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