The emerging juggernaut of our industry has to be the cloud. The past few years have seen an explosion in cloud based companies offering cloud based services. The largest gains being in client review and approval, and large video file transfers. The cloud makes such a myriad of many things obsolete or irrelevant. Tape, hard drives, bike couriers, delivery services, dub stations, time-consuming traffic jams, All of these things are non-factors when dealing with the cloud. Your only concerns need be security and speed.
A company driving all this forward is Signiant (see IMAGINE cover story August, 2014). With an office in Burlington, MA, Signiant is another Massachusetts company that is setting the tone with how media is managed, moved and shared.
Signiant is already a very trusted partner when it comes to moving content for television and broadcast. With a client list that includes NBC, Fox, BBC, Discovery, A&E, 20th Century Fox, Marvel, PBS, Ubisoft, EA, Apple ITunes, ESPN, NFL and NHL. That is just a fraction of Signiant’s robust client base. So what does Signiant do that makes them so trusted?
Signiant’s flagship offering is Media Shuttle. What Media Shuttle does is moves media using public or private IP at a transfer speed that is up to 200 times faster than FTP services. Media Shuttle also has no restrictions on file size. If you have 100GB video files, Media Shuttle is outfitted to move that file. Should a file transfer fail due to loss of network or internet connectivity, Media Shuttle will reconvene sending the file right where it left off. So if you get 90% done with a transfer and the network goes down, you needn’t worry about having to start at the beginning of your transfer. The newly released Media Shuttle Mobile, can do all this from your Apple mobile device such as IPhone, IPad and even IPod Touch. All of these services are subscription based, so you buy in month by month without a walloping up front cost of a server or software solution.
So the million dollar question here is “How do they do this?” The answer is through a technology Signiant and others in the industry refer to as “SaaS”. SaaS means “Software as a Service.” What SaaS does is uses your web browser to add functionality such as transferring of files. This technology is not exactly new, it’s been around since the 1960s, but it’s really coming to fruition now. It’s only since the dawn of subscription based services in the past five years or so. Before, your option was to buy a software package with annual support upgrades and maintenance fees. SaaS changes the way people add functionality to their businesses. If the software service doesn’t meet your needs, you can get out of it without losing a huge investment.
You have used SaaS technologies before if you have used Google Docs. Google Docs gives their users a set amount of storage space and bandwidth to move your document files. Users can then upload their documents and Google Docs will save the files as well as archive previous versions of the same files. When you share a file with another user, they can download it directly via Google Docs and it’s mostly seamless to the end user. I say mostly because if someone attempts to work offline, they won’t be able to get their files from Google Docs. With services such as Google Docs or Signiant’s Media Shuttle, it’s expected that you are online to access your data in the cloud.
Installation and ease of use of Media Shuttle are very easy to manage. Due to the SaaS architecture, everything works right in a web browser. Media Shuttle works as a web browser plugin, so Media Shuttle installation is just done in a few clicks. Once installation is done, all file sending is done through your web browser. So you don’t have to take a day or work to train everyone on Media Shuttle.
Files sent via Media Shuttle can be accessed one of two ways, through a custom portal(webpage) that can include company branding to create a more inclusive and professional experience for your customers and organization. The other way is just through a simple email link. When you upload a file (or files), your intended recipient will receive an email notification stating the file is ready for download.
But the common sentiment that you get with cloud based services is “When I upload my file to someone else’s server, I no longer have control and fear my intellectual property will be stolen or pirated!” Media Shuttle offers a SaaS hybrid service that will allow you to do all the wonderful things we noted above, only your files upload to your storage server, not Signiant’s. This will provide you with a larger up-front cost, but you will get the security that you need without compromising on security. So it seems that the cloud is maturing getting stronger every year.
Signiant offers free trials of Media Shuttle as well other products we didn’t cover here such as SkyDrop. To try Signiant’s products out, visit their website at
Steve McGrath is a Broadcast Sales Engineer for HB Communications. He has worked with NBC, ABC, CBS, NESN, NECN, Fox, ESPN, Pentagon, Powderhouse and many others. You can reach him at Steve.McGrath@HBCommunications.com. Learn more, visit Unified Communications | Audio Visual Solutions – HB Communications.