SVG Europe Sit-Down: Signiant’s Greg Hoskin discusses SaaS growth and file movement flexibility

Signiant managing director EMEA/APAC Greg Hoskin: "At this point, Media Shuttle is the most widely used enterprise-class SaaS file movement solution."

Signiant managing director EMEA/APAC Greg Hoskin: “At this point, Media Shuttle is the most widely used enterprise-class SaaS file movement solution.”

In the increasingly dynamic and competitive sector of intelligent file transfer the name of Signiant continues to figure very prominently. In 2015 it has a client roll-call that includes a broad cross-section of modern content and data intensive businesses, catering to them with a product range including hybrid SaaS solution Media Shuttle, the large file-oriented Flight, and automated delivery enterprise software Manager+Agents.

The time-intensive nature of sports broadcasting makes it fertile ground for Signiant, as managing director EMEA/APAC Greg Hoskin confirms during a conversation that also touches on recent company growth, broader market changes… and the excitement of the UCI World Track Cycling Championships.

How would you describe the last 12 months in terms of overall activity levels for Signiant in European broadcast?

In general we’ve seen a much stronger acceptance of the cloud and connected services among broadcasters, and a growing appreciation of the flexibility they provide. Since Signiant has been a leader in developing cloud-native file movement software, demand for both of our SaaS (Software-as-a-Service) products, Media Shuttle and Flight, has grown pretty dramatically in Europe.

In 2015, we saw a 55% increase in adoption of our SaaS solutions globally, including a 36% increase in EMEA. For example, Media Shuttle membership nearly doubled last year, and we are at about 80,000 right now. At this point, Media Shuttle is the most widely used enterprise-class SaaS file movement solution.

We’ve also seen an increase in cloud object storage adoption among broadcasters. Where Media Shuttle offers a simple interface for person-to-person transfers, Flight provides fast movement of content to and from cloud object storage such as with Amazon S3 and Microsoft Azure. As broadcasters are starting to advance their cloud strategy in different areas, many rely on some combination of Media Shuttle and Flight.

What have been the Signiant solutions that have particularly resonated with sports broadcasters?

We’ve gotten a lot of positive feedback from sports broadcasters for Media Shuttle recently. Its ease-of-use, simple installation and high reliability match well to the demand of major sporting events. And the instant scalability and pay-as-you-go pricing model of SaaS work really well for the highs and lows of seasonal sports.

Also, for broadcasters that are incorporating cloud object storage into their workflow, Flight’s ability to quickly and securely move content to and from the cloud is indispensible. For example, with archiving, backup, content ingestion and distribution of large media files, cloud object storage opens up a lot of new possibilities. But you can’t take advantage of them without a tool like Flight that moves content quickly and securely between different global locations and broadcasters’ cloud storage.

Another solution we can’t forget about is one of our original products, Manager+Agents, which is used for system-to-system automated file movement. At this point, it is established as a key component of sports workflows around the world, and those systems are expanding and working even harder especially as sports workflows start including nonlinear production.

If you had to nominate one notable recent project for a sports broadcaster, what would it be – and why?

Unfortunately, we can’t name many of our biggest customers, but let’s say we’ve probably all been watching highlights and sports shows moved with Signiant recently.

What are the issues that most concern broadcasters when it comes to specifying a file movement solution?

Sports broadcasters deal with ultra-tight timelines and periodic bursts of intense coverage. At the same time, they are often working with less than optimal network connectivity. First and foremost, they need a file movement solution that just works no matter the bandwidth or file size. Relying on outdated solutions like FTP can create chaos when file transfers fail or take much longer to move than anticipated. They really need to have reliability and predictability, to know precisely when files will arrive, which Signiant solutions provide. Also, the ability to delegate operational admin to local ops supervisors is key in such a fast moving environment.

Then, from a business perspective, a solution that can scale to the highs and lows of data usage under a flexible commercial model is vital. Signiant’s SaaS solutions have been on the market for a number of years now, and have proven to provide the kind of flexibility sports broadcasters need.

As we move further and further into this new world of cloud-based storage and flexible file management, what are likely to be the greatest benefits for sports broadcasters in particular?

I’ve touched on this a bit, but the benefits of SaaS solutions are especially applicable in sports broadcasting. The instant scalability, global reach and pay-for-what-you-use commercial model of SaaS file movement software will continue to add enormous value.

However, it’s important to note that not all “cloud” or even “SaaS” technology has these benefits. Unfortunately, some companies take advantage of those words for marketing purposes, so it’s important to know what to look for. True cloud-native solutions will have multi-tenant, auto-scaling, load-balancing features and will not pass on service charges associated with managing virtual machines.

"We’re in the midst of helping our customers radically re-think their workflows for the cloud era," says Greg Hoskin.

“We’re in the midst of helping our customers radically re-think their workflows for the cloud era,” says Greg Hoskin.

What should we look out for in terms of new solutions and projects involving Signiant this year?

Our business has never been stronger and we’ve never been busier. We’re in the midst of helping our customers radically re-think their workflows for the cloud era, and you will see a steady flow of innovative capabilities that help them accomplish that.

Sports broadcasting has always been ahead of the curve in technology innovation, from being early adopters of 4K and 8K to offering up that content on multiple viewing platforms. So we are especially excited to be working with leaders in sports broadcasting to figure out how to incorporate cloud solutions and cloud storage into their workflows.

Finally, please nominate a recent sports highlight of your own…

That’s a tough one, just because there have been so many great sports events lately. But I have to choose the recent UCI World Track Cycling Championships in London. Getting to watch the action from the cyclists’ saddle-cams while feeling the roar of the velodrome was such a dramatic experience. It was a great example of how technology can enhance the viewer’s appreciation of a particular event and an entire sport.

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