There is a lot of debate as to whether digital signage should be housed On-Prem or in the cloud. Both the cloud based and On-Prem solutions have pros and cons for digital media management. You need the cloud for dynamic content integration so users can pull in Social Media, public RSS feeds like CNN, and AP news feeds. But what about those times when data should never reach the cloud?
For Industry Weapon, there are three main reasons as to why an On-Prem solution was an option we never entertained. The first would be the dynamic content discussed earlier. Content is really important and if your content is boring, money will be wasted, the solution will not show its value and our customers would be wondering why they spent the money if nobody is looking at their screens. Unless companies hire a content team devoted to uploading news, weather, and sports scores around the clock, On-Prem solutions must create holes in their firewall to access these sources. As soon as just one hole is open, they have already met the criteria to house a hybrid cloud solution and the value of the On-Prem solution just evaporated.
The second issue with On-Prem is technology upgrades. With the rate at which technology progresses, you’ll probably settle with an On-Prem solution that becomes obsolete quickly after purchase. Upgrades get much more technically involved with On-Prem solutions compared to cloud based. Devices are rapidly evolving, and the On-Prem solution doesn’t have the transcoding tools necessary to support these new devices. This means every time you need to upgrade, you have to buy new hardware and go through a whole new installation. The assumption clients have is that that their On-Prem box can do everything from today into the future, but that’s not reality.
The final of the big three issues we see with an On-Prem solution is cost. An On-Prem solution usually requires a non-prod system as well as a production system, because you’ll need to assess everything through your non-prod system before pushing it through the production system. This means your expenses will be doubled: you’ll need twice the servers, twice the software, and twice the support staff. This is not including when a company wants to scale, which means more devices people and training. Before implementing an On-Prem solution, ask yourself if your company is focused on digital media communications or hiring staff members to build widgets, products, and services.
Now let’s clear some fog away from the cloud. Does it concern you that your email is going through the cloud? Then why are you so worried about hosting your broadcast information there? Cloud storage technology has been around for years. A lot of digital media management systems use this solution for obvious reasons; it is more advantageous than the traditional forms of storage. But the cloud is no cure-all, by any stretch of the imagination.
There are four big reasons why a full cloud solution can be problematic. The first two are bandwidth usage and connectivity. The problem occurs between the local appliance and the local players. Regardless of whether you’re creating content locally or in the cloud, when you re-distribute that content to your players, the network limitations are going to be the same. If all of your digital media players relied solely on cloud access, you’d be using a ton of bandwidth.
Connectivity is the ability to connect from your location to the cloud in order to download content. If your company’s Internet is down the connection will be broken and you will have problems updating your digital signage. But in this day and age, to suggest that On-Prem is a better solution because because of connectivity problems is a weak argument. How many people are going to be worried about their digital signs when their Internet is down?
The third problem with cloud solutions is creating too many holes in a networks firewall. The point of having a firewall is to securely lock down your network. With cloud based solutions, every player has to poke a hole through the firewall to access the cloud. The more holes you have, the weaker your firewall becomes. Obvious issues around security quickly grow. The last major problem we see with the cloud is timing for applications. When someone yanks the fire alarm, you don’t want the signal to go all the way to the cloud in order to give the command to broadcast the alerts on the signs. These applications are meant to be triggered instantaneously to the event, so connecting through the cloud would defeat the purpose.
The solution for digital signage isn’t one-way or the other; you can have the best of both worlds in a Hybrid Cloud model. At Industry Weapon, we realized that our clients need dynamic content consistently flowing to their displays, yet there are certain applications that our clients don’t want to take to the cloud. The industry requires a solution that can adhere to sensitive data needs, yet integrate with outside content sources. What we did at Industry Weapon is create a MediaBridge to aggregate those requests.
With the MediaBridge, we’ve been able to mitigate security issues by bringing in additional hybrid solutions that host the structure and the data separately. That way, your data is driven locally while the structure is driven in the cloud. They merge in your network and only authorized users are permitted access. So, instead of making tons of holes in your network for cloud only solutions, you only need a single hole that connects your MediaBridge to our server. We have much more flexibility because of our ability to cache and distribute content down to single players, then redistribute on the local network.This also limits the bandwidth required between the installation and the cloud
By maintaining a hybrid- cloud model, we do not waste time figuring out how to apply different solutions to the problem, we focus solely on enhancing the applications we already have. By focusing on one product, we’re able to spend our time engineering better techniques to our model, making it faster and more efficient.
Hybrid-Cloud signage also allows for enhanced security. If proper safety compliances are not implemented, any of the solution options have the potential for security breaches. We hold ourselves accountable by proving that we’re being monitored by a third party. SOC2 is able to audit all of the electronic practices that handle data. SOC2 requires us to be ,almost obsessively, secure and we never shied away from investing money in improving our security measures.
Beyond that we are PCI compliant, which means that we treat customers’ data as if it were credit card information. If companies are worried about security vulnerabilities, they should make sure that the solution they choose has invested in maintaining their security procedures and are validated by third party auditors.
Digital signage is a growing industry, and there are changes constantly but at the end of the day, to be successful, digital signage requires fast and constantly flowing content. To manage this content, you don’t have to choose between an OnPrem or cloud based solution. By marrying the best features from both worlds with a hybrid cloud model, you can rest assured that your data is safe and your content is current.