So is the often repeated phrase, when those of us outside of China ask our colleagues about business, technology and consumer activities within the World’s most populated country – which is still on a very substantial economic growth curve and taking big steps on the global stage. Just think about the devices that you use every day – it is hard to find one that is not made in China.
I have just returned from Beijing, where EMC joined the 24th annual China Content Broadcasting Network Conference and Exhibition – CCBN 2016. CCBN boasts 100,000 attendees from 30 countries to meet with over 1,000 exhibitors across a 60,000 sqm exhibition campus in 8 halls.
The weather was spectacular! Cool, clear and sunny, perfect for walks around the campus. Chinese M&E industry professionals are just like you and I – focused on practical outcomes that deliver the best quality and new innovations at an affordable price. They are optimistic and enthusiastic for the future – and much younger and fitter than the “industry veterans” that I expect to be rubbing shoulders with during the upcoming NAB Show in Las Vegas (no offence intended).
EMC was at CCBN in Hall 3, and we also held an in-depth customer workshop where we presented our technology updates and vision for the media industry, and then listened to some of the most advanced media customers in China tell us of their plans, challenges and requirements for the future. If you want to get some takeaways, take a look here or scan this QR code (it is the Chinese way).
4K? Cloud? OTT? All-IP? Social Media integration? You bet! These are all hot topics, and many vendors were presenting solutions addressing all of these rapidly developing requirements. But this is where we start to see some significant variations between China and the rest of the world.
Vendors are different…
Forget your well-known major brands. In China the biggest players are the local vendors and solution providers. International vendors are usually represented through partnerships and JV agreements. Software-based solutions that are localised to support Chinese language and integrations are the most successful, because they can be married with local-brand IT hardware thus giving the local system integrators some opportunity for a share of profit margins and local support contracts. So the model that most M&E vendors are finally adopting – getting away from hardware sales and providing fully-virtualised software options – ensures access to huge markets like China. The two biggest by far are Dayang and Sobey – and I’m pleased to say they are both very good partners of EMC, having sold many solutions integrating Isilon storage into major media companies in China.
This snapshot on Day 1 of the show gives you an idea of the crowd and the popularity of Dayang and Sobey for the media industry in China. Each vendor was showing innovations and solutions addressing the hot topics for 2016 – 4K, Cloud, Asset Management, Archiving, All-IP, File-Based Workflows. Located directly opposite each other, Hall 4 was definitely the hot spot! You will find these two companies exhibiting at NAB, but they won’t be quite so busy…
Clouds are different…
When you think Cloud, names that leap to mind are Amazon, Microsoft and Google. Not here. The big players are Alibaba and Tencent, and the biggest public cloud in China is Aliyun (yun=cloud, so we usually call it AliCloud). Just as we see interest in running M&E workflows on AWS and Azure, so in China there was a major partnership being demonstrated between Sobey and Aliyun. This follows a similar model to elsewhere, where the solutions are being developed on layered SaaS / PaaS / IaaS models. You will recognise a few logos in the snapshot below.
Just as we find in the professional media industry outside of China, there are concerns expressed by our customers about being too dependent on 3rd party providers, vendor lock-in and content security. And just as we find outside of China, the cloud is not cheaper than a well-run private / hybrid cloud solution built on a foundation of open source software and managed infrastructure.
Internet TV is different…
Netflix? As the leading global provider of subscription Video On Demand, Netflix is well-known as the disruptive innovator that has started to reshape media consumption. Just like Uber for the taxi industry and Airbnb for the hotel industry, Netflix has triggered the launch of a myriad of OTT content providers across Asia – competing to stay abreast of this wave of rapidly changing consumer demand. Watch anything, anytime on any device. Binge-viewing of whole seasons at less than $10 / month. In early 2016, Netflix pressed a button to roll out services across the rest of the globe – with one very big exception…
Yes, that big hole is China, 1.3 Billion people. Netflix may yet start up here via a JV, but in China, it is different… The companies defining and dominating the OTT and Internet video space in China are predominantly local or acting as JV partners.
In China there is no Facebook, Twitter, YouTube or Google. Instead there is WeChat, YuoKu, QQ, Wasu, DisneyLife – and plenty of others. These media ventures are dominated by the big guys, like Alibaba, Tencent, CCTV and SMG.
However from a technical perspective, the pressures and issues are the same. The need for high-quality transcoding, origin servers and CDNs that can scale to handle the massive traffic demands, a range of different consumer devices to be supported, and of course doing all of this at a low incremental cost.
Well, most people I spoke to were already well down the track of 4K video production, and looking to be able to offer those channels in the near future. Vendors at the show were promoting their support for 4K video, and HDR. With Beijing officially winning the bid for the 2022 Winter Olympic Games, that caps off a North Asian clean sweep for the six years following the Rio 2016 Olympics that will certainly drive broadcasters and vendors to bring advanced television production and distribution such as 4K, 8K and individual event streaming to the market and into the hands of demanding consumers.
See you at NAB 2016!
And so as we rapidly approach the major annual broadcasting & media show in Las Vegas, if you are travelling from Asia or if you are interested in providing services into Asia, come and have a chat with me on the EMC stand #SL9605 in the South Lower Hall. Or if you want to find out more about the world’s most trusted media storage and converged infrastructure solutions – adopted by more than 1,500 media & entertainment companies worldwide (including China), come and meet with our experts on the stand. We will show you the result of 15 years of developing and selling Isilon, now in its 8th generation of software innovation. We live and breathe the “All-IP” media world, and with EMC’s market-leading converged infrastructure solutions we can take you into the cloud-connected, virtualised, “always-on” future that your business and your customers are already demanding.