Column: Build it, buy it or somewhere in between — creating your media supply chain

By Ben Davenport, Vidispine/Arvato Systems

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In the previous three parts to this series about the media supply chain, we’ve covered what it is, what the core components are, and some considerations in specifying them. In this piece, and the following installment, we’re going to look at the ways the media supply chain can be implemented.

Learn your scales

If we think about business software solutions in general, historically there have been two main approaches. For many organizations, the only viable option was to purchase a turnkey system. Likely with some customization to their needs, and for any change in requirements in the lifetime of the system to be handled together with the vendor through change requests, system upgrades, or additional customization. The alternative option, open to organizations with appropriate resources, was to build their own completely custom solution, and maintain that themselves – though there are many instances where the latter example has grown into the first.

Today, those two options still exist, but as media technology has converged with standard IT, standardization has made possible a whole scale of options that have emerged in between.

Don’t start from scratch

BYOS (build your own system) or BIY (build it yourself) no longer has to mean starting from scratch or complete custom development. Solutions such as VidiCore provide the object repository and metadata structures that enable you to focus on developing the application layer, rather than the underlying framework. Accompanying toolkits can massively accelerate development while templated solutions, called “Themes” in the Vidinet platform, enable developers to realize a minimum viable product for common use cases, such as a media library, within only a couple of hours.

At the other end of the spectrum, even turnkey enterprise systems offer far more user configurability and customization than in the past. For example, where changing or setting up a new metadata schema, rules and workflows may once have required the services of the system vendor. Many systems now offer standardized interfaces that allow system administrators to tailor the system to their needs and adapt them over time. This significantly reduces the total cost of ownership of systems, but also means that systems are far more likely to continue to provide strong return on investment even as your business evolves.

Should significant custom developments or integrations be required with these enterprise systems, the majority now offer one or more API (application programming interface) and, depending on the system, will offer a multitude of options for extending and integrating the system whether that development is done by you, the vendor, or a third party.

Bridging the two ends of the spectrum, there can be a number of options combining toolkits and templates and “off-the-shelf” applications that would otherwise be part of a turnkey offering.

In the next article, we’ll take a look at some of the standards and API frameworks that have made all these options practical.

About Ben Davenport, Vidispine/Arvato Systems

During the past decade, Ben has played a key role in some of the most complex and progressive file-based media solutions and projects in the industry and gained a wealth of experience around file-formats, workflow and the convergence of broadcast and IT. At Arvato Systems, Ben acts as an interface between the market and the product teams, identifying technological and workplace trends, and working with product management to ensure products and solutions meet current and future needs. Vidispine was acquired by Arvato Systems in November 2017. Before joining Arvato Systems, Ben was Director of Marketing at Dalet, responsible for all worldwide marketing activities while also focused on the creation and delivery of the lifecycle plan for the features and functionality of the Dalet AmberFin transcoding platform.  Previously, Ben was Harmonic's Solutions Marketing Manager following a number of technical marketing positions at Omneon before its acquisition by Harmonic.  Ben holds a Bachelor's degree in Music & Sound Recording (Tonmeister) from the University of Surrey.