By Chris Tribbey
From his time as network administrator at the Survivors of the Shoah Foundation, to his years as director of research and development for Technicolor, to consulting for top-tier companies like Deluxe Digital Distribution and MovieLabs, Dave Benson has seen a lot of changes happen in the media and entertainment industry.
But nothing compares to what’s happened in the last few years.
“The needs and requirements consumers are putting on entertainment companies these days are fundamentally more dynamic and rigorous than in the past. With the advent of various technologies, when you start to see the innovation curve go into this hockey-stick mode, the infrastructures, the processes, and everything else that goes into the supply side of that demand, needs to evolve as well,” he told the Media & Entertainment Services Alliance (MESA). “It’s not a luxury, it’s a necessity to have elastic infrastructure.”
In mid-2010, anticipating the new challenges media and entertainment companies would face in the digital world, Benson launched DSB Consulting. The company creates innovative cloud-based solutions for the industry, from large, custom-built cloud platforms, to ever-changing development operations. DSB’s goal: provide clients with things they can’t build themselves, either because they lack in-house expertise or it’s outside their scope and focus.
“Companies are literally being forced into using cloud services today, and that has a huge impact on their day-to-day operations, and requires a completely different way of doing business,” Benson said. Being an entirely cloud-focused company, DSB’s main purpose is to help clients properly manage and protect their assets, and embrace the cloud instead of shying away from it.
“We’ve seen a shift during the last two or three years from this inherent fear of the cloud to [companies] moving entire production workflows into public cloud environments, and doing it very successfully, and actually proving the value proposition,” Benson said. “The fear has subsided, and experimentation has transitioned into fully funded projects.”
Benson calls it a tipping point: companies are finally embracing the cloud because the benefits outweigh the risks. Media and entertainment companies especially are starting to think creatively about how to leverage the cloud. “It’s a new paradigm that flips the script on old-school data center methodology: we used to mold our solutions to fit the problem, but now we have to mold our problems to fit the available solutions,” he said. “Conceptually this evolution isn’t something the M&E industry hasn’t experienced before. Take tube-record-cassette-CD-MP3: each step was incremental until the quantum shift from a physical medium to a digital one. That shift completely changed how we produce, deliver and consume music and opened the door for radically new business models and innovation.”
“The same thing is happening with the cloud, and that’s where DSB already was, at the forefront, innovating solutions before the industry even realized it needed them.”
DSB’s clientele covers the spectrum of film, TV and digital media production, (including pre and post), along with other types of media companies, from data management and file transfer to media workflow and processing. They’ve used DSB’s services in varied ways: one client looked to the company to lower Amazon Web Services (AWS) bandwidth charges, saving the client thousands. Another looked to DSB for cloud solutions after having “an issue that was so complex they had an RFP open for over a year,” Benson said.
“Knowing how to navigate the public cloud environment is perhaps DSB’s top selling point, and DSB has been an AWS reseller for longer than most firms in the media and entertainment space,” Benson said. Other DSB cloud-based partners include IBM’s SoftLayer and Cloudyn.
“We know what technologies Hollywood uses and how to best apply and adapt them to create maximum value,” Benson said. “We know what it took to go from one platform to another, not only from a nuts and bolts standpoint, but in terms of workflow.”
Next, DSB is looking to expand its reach into the M&E space, with the pool of film, TV and digital content producers growing and evolving, opening up new opportunities for news, sports and live events. “Basically any company with digital assets is in DSB’s wheelhouse,” Benson said. On the partner side, he envisions extending DSB’s participation with consulting firms like Accenture, PricewaterhouseCoopers and Deloitte.
And the deepening of DSB’s roots into M&E is now well underway with the just-announced launch of BeBop Technology. A first-of-its-kind cloud-based editorial workflow service, BeBop was incubated within DSB and is powered by PC-over-IP protocol company Teradici. “BeBop enables a true, near-line editing experience, using industry standard software like Adobe Premiere, Final Cut Pro, and more, running purely in the cloud and on a Windows desktop, remotely, anywhere in the world,” Benson said.
BeBop’s game-changing characteristics should not be underestimated: it’s expected to become such a significant disruptor for M&E that Benson co-cofounded BeBop Technology as a stand-alone company. Currently in private beta with several notable film, television and digital content producers, BeBop will launch for general availability in the first quarter of 2016.