The seven deadly myths of cloud
There are many misconceptions around cloud technology: “It’s not secure”... “It’s too expensive”...
While there are sometimes truthful elements in such statements, the reality is always more nuanced.
In this article, we’re going to look at seven of the most stubborn myths around cloud and debunk them (or at least cast some doubt on them).
Myth #1: The cloud isn't secure
When you move to the cloud, a big part of your security footprint gets managed by someone else. Security tends to be stronger when resources are pooled, not siloed. While individual studios do invest in IT security, Google has over 800 dedicated security engineers whose work cloud users benefit from automatically.
Shifting to cloud doesn't change the fact that your data needs to be secured. But it does change who is responsible for what. With everything in-house, you're responsible for anything that could happen, including a data breach.
Cloud works on the principle of a shared security model: cloud providers provide security of the cloud, while you are responsible for working securely in the cloud.
The Motion Picture Association of America (MPAA) evaluates the security of studios and how they deploy their tools through a program called Trusted Partner Network (TPN). The major cloud services providers, including Amazon and Google, have all been audited as part of the TPN.
Because of this, the big six Hollywood studios are all confident enough to use cloud technology in some form or another.
So while it's true that the cloud doesn't magically solve the important issue of security, it's important to consider how your studio can benefit from massive investments that public cloud providers have put towards securing it.
Myth #2: Using the cloud is more expensive than owning my own stuff
Most companies tend to have a "water line" or "steady state" where their resources are generally constant. It makes sense to purchase these resources up-front if it's cheaper to do so.
But where studios fail to optimize costs and engender risk is when they purchase up-front resources for unpredictable or short-lived needs. In this case, cloud makes more sense because costs are usage-following.
Cloud allows you to balance your steady-state and volatile needs. Studios often forget to price-in risk such as cost of maintenance and IT expertise, equipment failure, unpredictable staffing needs, and changing external environment (technology changing, market moving, etc).
Cloud allows you to embrace this risk and only pay for it when it actually materializes.
Similarly, freelancers today use "fixed-price" bidding, but cloud allows "cost-plus" bidding, where the incremental cost of changes by the client is passed on, vs. assumed by the freelancer. This makes bids more competitive initially, and balances risk evenly between client and freelancer over the course of the project.
Myth #3: It's not fast enough!
The truth is, having your own stuff within your own four walls will likely always be the fastest set up.
With the internet, the speed of light and network switching technology are undeniably limiting factors.
But today, for most of us, internet connections tend to be really good—particularly if you have access to the net via fibre-optic cables.
And in fact, we’ve nowhere near reached the zenith of how fast our connectivity will be—the rate at which connection speeds are improving is accelerating. More people are getting connected at higher speed in more places on earth, faster than ever before.
Myth #4: I'll lose my preferred way of working
You can work pretty much any way you want in the cloud. A lot of what people are using in the cloud to create VFX is the same as what people are using outside of it—things like Linux, GPUs, software…
The difference is, with the cloud you don’t need to maintain or update anything—that’s all handled for you. Plus, you can login and work from anywhere, and just pay for stuff when you need it.
Check out BeBop Technologies’ recent webinar, featuring Mathieu Mazerolle, Foundry’s Director of Product - Technology, on working from home securely.
Myth #5 It's only for technical people, not artists
We’ve all used Snapchat, Instagram, Facebook, Netflix…these are services that exist by virtue of cloud technology, but we don’t think about that at all when we’re using them.
That’s because, while the way these services work behind the scenes is clever and technical, they’ve been built with non-technical users in mind.
Cloud infrastructure has been embraced by organizations transforming their IT. But the wave of transformation is bringing cloud into the hands of everyone: our operating systems, phones, pictures, television, talking speakers, cars, and more. Why not artists, too?
There’s a compelling argument to be made that someone ought to do this for VFX—package everything up and allow people to access it using cloud technology.
Myth #6: It's only for the big players
There’s a perception that cloud tech for VFX is complicated, expensive, and hard to adopt—and that therefore only the big guys can use it. That may have been true in the early days, but we’ve got to a point where cloud now actually empowers smaller players to be a disruptive force in the VFX industry.
The idea that cloud is only for the big players has been seen as true mainly because cloud technology is relatively new and was initially complex. But in fact, we at Foundry think small players can take advantage of the cloud even more than big players. That’s because the advantages of cloud play to the strength and weaknesses of small companies even better than large ones, something explored by Hive VFX’s Bernhard Kimbacher in his 2019 Siggraph talk.
Large companies often just use cloud for an incremental improvement. Whereas a small studio has the opportunity to completely reinvent themselves, undergoing a rapid evolution rather than an incremental change. This allows them to compete with the big guys without assuming any of the up-front costs.
Myth #7: I don't need to bother, it's just a fad!
Other industries were saying cloud was just a fad 15 years ago, and it didn’t work out that way.
In fact it was just the start of a long term trend, and the businesses that cottoned on early, or—even better—were born in the cloud, are the ones that dominate many of those industries today.
The 'fad' phase of cloud is now long-passed: it's becoming a commodity. What’s really interesting today is how cloud is actually powering new experiences.
The VFX industry is lagging in this curve, and we feel the time is ripe for cloud to be something that every artist uses without really thinking about it.
Through that lens, cloud is the opposite of a fad. It’s going to become so commonplace, that in a few years time it will feel strange even talking about ‘cloud based pipelines’ or ‘cloud based workstations’ , because cloud will be so woven into the way we do things.