James Whitebread

James Whitebread, Masstech’s CTO delves into the world of software-defined workflows, explaining what they are and why you should consider implementing them. 

Movielabs describes a software-defined workflow as: “A workflow that uses a highly configurable set of tools and processes to support creative tasks by connecting them through software mediated collaboration and automation” [1], but why should you consider using them within your asset management processes?

In short, software-defined workflows can address a number of business challenges or pipelines, such as:

Storage: Event-driven workflows move content from one storage location to another on demand or based on a set of criteria.

Content processing: Content workflows may include activities such as transcode and distribution to multiple platforms. 

Enrichment: Content can be enriched, for example utilising one or more AI/machine learning engines to identify metadata which can be passed back into the archive management toolset.

Here we explore some of the commonly asked questions around software-defined workflows and the benefits they bring when implemented.

What are software-defined workflows for?

Workflows can help an organisation to run regular business processes and optimise pipelines. A pipeline can be thought of almost like a factory which runs a business process such as content acquisition, content creation, content processing, storage management or even delivery of assets.

By building out software-defined workflow pipelines, you create the factory ready to run your particular business process. From the processing of dailies, to the movement of content between storage tiers, through to archiving of assets for archiving of assets for use with MAMs and PAMs, or simply transcoding and delivering content to a third-party service, platform or provider.

How do you build software-defined workflows?

For quite some time, workflows had to be built by developers who used complex code to construct them. However, over the last few years visual tools have removed the complexity and introduced drag and drop interfaces, allowing anyone with a base knowledge of the setup to create pipelines and run workflows. 

Can workflows work with any media specific segment?

It’s possible to design and operate workflows for almost any segment in the media space; some examples of use cases are a dailies workflow/pipeline in Production, or an edit suite integration (e.g. Adobe, Avid) and onward transcode processing for Post Production.

Of course there isn’t really any limit on the application possibilities – workflows can be used by broadcasters, OTT business and many more.

What are the key components of a workflow?

Workflows are made up from four major components: 

Assets – that need to be processed in some way, shape or form. 

Systems – where integrated tools and services may be involved. 

Process – where a given task needs to be performed. 

User – where a person would have a role in the workflow for example an approver.

Each of these major components are used at least once in a workflow, for example in a transcode workflow the key steps for each component may include:

Assets – to be transcoded

System – the transcoder to process the assets

Process – the activity to be performed by the transcoder

User – may be required to approve output assets, for example

Example of a software-defined workflow in Kumulate

Where does Kumulate fit?

Masstech believes that software-defined workflows are a pivotal part of any media ecosystem. Our leading platform, Kumulate allows customers to bring together business systems and tools, creating pipelines to deliver business processes or workflows.

The Kumulate platform has software-defined workflows at its heart, with three key areas of functionality designed to address common video storage and processing requirements: 

Workflow Design – where it’s possible for a platform user to design and build a workflow visually.

Workflow Engine / Orchestrator – where workflows can be deployed to and operated from.

Reporting – where workflow progress can be tracked and reported.

How Can Masstech Help?

If you are already operating a Masstech platform, we would love to help you enhance your usage by supporting you and your teams with building out software-defined workflows and pipelines to drive and optimise your business processes. 

If you’re not yet using Kumulate, get in touch for a demonstration of the platform’s key components and how it can help you.


References:

1] Movielabs: https://movielabs.com/production-technology/sdw/


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