Hourly Bandwidth Consumption Paves the Road to On-Demand Cloud Work

With short project timelines, strict budgets, and security protocols that rival the Department of Defense, the entertainment industry has historically relied on the uncomplicated, infinitely accessible, and seemingly foolproof model of data transport: people and cars, aka “Sneakernet.”

In recent years, and more so during the pandemic, the move to the cloud has been looked at, examined, adopted, abandoned, re-adopted, and endlessly blogged over. But regardless of the various sub stages, one can’t ignore that an overall shift is underway. 

As someone who evangelizes the disruptive nature of the cloud, and access to it, I don’t sing the praises of Sneakernet too often. But in this blog, I’d like to shine a light on why it works. Not for any altruistic reason, you understand. In transparency, once I point out the reasons it has been a tried and true method for so long, I’ll be pointing to the PacketFabric service to illuminate why Network as a Service + Distributed Storage checks all the same boxes, and in fact more. My point is that adopting new technologies and practices should be as easy as…well…driving a hard drive across town.

Why Moving Past Sneakernet is So Tough

Sneakernet has worked since before the dawn of talkies. One of the reasons is the changeable and often ad hoc nature of deliverables, workflows, and stages of production. Just because a studio or production company consistently transfers footage to an editor, doesn’t mean it does so all year, to the same editor, with the same footage. Needs change, and the path of least resistance has often been relying on one person to carry out the transfers, as and when needed. 

Even in our hyper-connected world, there are obstacles to moving past sneakernet. Internet connectivity isn’t private or secure. Getting bandwidth at scale in a timely manner isn’t a given with slow provisioning processes and long-term commitments. Where you need to send data may vary by project or client. Getting data out of one cloud to another location can cost an arm and a leg. And horror film-like, you have no idea if those egress fees will morph into some business-eating monstrosity by month end. These are partly why sneakernet persists.

The Answer: Remove Speed, Scale and Consumption Barriers

PacketFabric’s disruptive offering of hourly and burstable billing delivers ultra-consumable bandwidth at scale for project-based and cyclical demands. 

By cyclical, what we mean are cyclical fluctuations in demand for bandwidth. For example, if bandwidth needs for a workflow rise and fall regularly on a timed basis, depending on where the project is within the production pipeline, or how much there is to render, you can optimize your bandwidth consumption to support performance with a combination of term and hourly bursting. Editing, and delivering production dailies for review, are also examples of cyclical requirements. 

If you have a PoP with us, then depending on how much data you have to move and how timely it is, you can dial up hourly capacity up to your ports speeds (up to 100 Gbps) to get it there fast, or even choose to execute a longer-duration migration with less bandwidth with hourly or monthly connection.

The overall point is that the choice is in the hands of the end user. Hourly and burstable billing offer powerful new options for deploying bandwidth.

So where has this been all our lives?

When it comes to high-speed network services, the notion of anything close to such an on-demand consumption model was out of reach until fairly recently. With the rise of automated Network-as-a-Service (NaaS) models like what we’ve built here at PacketFabric, the days of needing to commit to inflexible, multi-year contracts to get private, optical network bandwidth for large data sets for time sensitive projects has come to an end. If you register and use our portal, you can click to deploy bandwidth on a monthly basis and get it in minutes. When your production or project ends, spin your service back down. 

But the quest to make that bandwidth ever more consumable is a journey and our mission is to keep pushing to unlock the full potential of automation so that connectivity can serve the changing Media & Entertainment ecosystem. That’s why it’s exciting to showcase our hourly and burstable billing for backbone virtual circuits. 

You can now get high-speed, carrier-class, SLA-supported data center interconnection on an hourly basis.  

Asymmetric Bandwidth: Backup and Disaster Recovery

There are various benefits to storing data in the cloud for backup and recovery purposes. I’ll list them here, then get back to my point about hourly consumption in a decidedly post-talkie world.

  • As workflows get more advanced, back-up in the cloud allows for meta-tagging of assets, which aids in filing and relaying detail for future use, irrespective of user or retrieval tool. 
  • When storage is distributed, a decentralized workforce can access files and work in real time, regardless of region, without the need for transfer back and forth.
  • Earthquakes. Los Angeles. You get where I’m going.
  • Regulatory Compliance:  More and more companies in the M&E space have to be SOC 1-2 Compliant and have a multi-cloud strategy in place for BCDR reasons. With the cloud you have data encryption and access controls for all your data.

And with a consumable model equaling our network, PacketFabric’s distributed storage is also instantly accessible, on-demand, and obviously available via our dedicated private connections. 

Now back to our regularly scheduled program: Backup and disaster recovery operations require asymmetric movement of data sets. Consumption based and scalable connectivity is a must.

To start, you have to seed your backup with 100% of the data set (let’s say 500 Terabytes). But that doesn’t happen again, because in subsequent backups, you’re just doing incrementals–just the 1-2% (5-10TB) of the total dataset that has actually changed. Finally, when you need to restore, you need to move the entire dataset (550TB given growth)  from the backup location quickly to meet recovery time objectives (RTOs).

Backup and recovery is the perfect example of cyclical + project-based data movement. Seeding and recovery are project-driven, while incrementals are cyclical. And the extreme degree of asymmetry between those volumes of the two types of data movement have for a long time created a rather difficult price-performance tradeoff. And trying to seed a backup has been so challenging that in many cases the data is sent via FedEx (back to why Sneakernet has indeed worked in the past). So, having a bandwidth-based way of seeding is in itself a significant operational improvement. 

With hourly and burstable billing, you can provision bandwidth on-demand, at the right speed needed to ensure seeding, incrementals and recovery happen in an ideal timeframe, while right-sizing your operations costs. 

The option for hourly billing is as private, “as-needed”, and trackable via our portal, as a run across town could ever be. What Packetfabric remains unable to do, admittedly, is pick you up a coffee along the way (or a host of other essential things). But we’ll happily join you for a cup.

Learn more or try it now

If you’re already a PacketFabric customer and have ports in two or more of our PoPs, you can provision this capability now. Watch the video above for a quick orientation, and check out our knowledge base. There’s even an hourly pricing calculator