IaC is the process of creating and managing cloud-based technologies using scripts – hence code – to do so. The script is then “read”, or accepted, by systems like AWS’ CloudFormation or the cloud-agnostic solution from Terraform. The systems created using IaC can be as simple or as complex as required i.e. entirely cloud-based complex playout infrastructure can be generated far more quickly and cost-effectively via this method.
Ian Redgewell, Head of Media Management, Globecast, said, “Take the example of deploying a new cloud-based platform for a customer using Infrastructure as Code. Everything that needs to happen – the 50 servers we need, the software we need to run on those servers, the network, all the IP addresses, the user accounts, the security permissions – all of these can be written into a single document using the correct code. That is then run through the aforementioned systems and the infrastructure is created.”
While there is, of course, the time taken to create the code, this process removes any on-premise installation work and, increasingly more relevant, removes the complex, multifaceted manual processes of cloud service creation. There are three other clear benefits: changes to any platform/service, or security patching, can be easily handled by editing the code, with the changes then instantly made; once a system is up and running, it can be taken down in a matter of seconds; it can then be redeployed as required for another service launch or ad-hoc event almost instantly. One-off sporting events are a prime example of where the benefits of this will be seen.
Globecast has already deployed IaC, initially for a relatively simple project, allowing providers of advertising content for a Globecast playout customer to simply hit a button to feed relevant commercials via the cloud to a variety of landing areas for insertion by Globecast. This means the ad providers don’t have to install any proprietary software (which will vary from playout provider to playout provider) and don’t have to use older technologies, FTP being the prime example. This allowed Globecast to implement the system in a tiny fraction of the time it would previously have taken. It is also allowing Globecast to easily manage any changes in ad providers in a matter of minutes each time.
Redgewell added, “We see IaC as critical in maximising the potential of the cloud. It’s a genuine gamechanger. This is the way to work as we move forward. The speed-to-market advantage is huge, as is the cost saving. And the ability to re-use entire systems is a massive step. The cost saving potential is further heightened by this. We are talking about the deployment of very complex solutions, maintaining them, easily making changes and removing whole systems or redeploying them in minutes.”