Experiment Case Study

Multi-Cloud Based Multimedia Services for SMEs
“Cultural and creative SMEs are looking for more flexible solutions for managing their multimedia content. Based on ON:meedi:a, our web-based platform for multimedia we have launched a new SaaS product that can be purchased by anyone who wants to publish their media files, aggregate content streams such as social media channels and blogs, and publish thematic collections on the web.
Alexandru Stan Project Manager IN2 MEDIAFIRE aims to change the current situation in which creative industries rely on standalone systems by proposing a flexible solution that allows deploying software services for the creative industries on the cloud. Creative professionals will then be able to choose software as a service services that fit to their current workflows and perform the tasks they need to carry out.

The challenge
Around 80% of enterprises in the cultural and creative industry (CCI) are SMEs with many sole traders or micro-SMEs employing only a small team. Nevertheless, they are responsible for 18% of the total turnover of the CCIs. Within this majority of micro-enterprises almost 60% consist of very small businesses with only 1 to 3 employees. Operating at this reduced scale has important consequences on the purchasing power that these enterprises have. Many of the tools and services which are essential in the workflows of the large-scale CCI enterprises, are much too expensive or complex for the needs of the SMEs. This is why these SMEs have embraced the new software-as-aservice (SaaS) model, which allows them to have affordable access to the tools they need in the cloud, whenever they need them.

For many of the SMEs multimedia plays a pivotal role in their business. Traditionally, multimedia management solutions have been standalone systems that are purchased once by the creative professionals and run at their premises. These traditional systems for managing multimedia content are usually very rich in features, requiring a steep learning curve or specialised staff for its operation. Overall, a substantial financial investment from the side of the client is needed. For this reason, this model does not provide the ideal level of flexibility required by creative SMEs or small content holders, such as young filmmakers or local museums. Out of the complete bundle of tools that the multimedia management system offers, they would usually need only a subset and only at discrete time instances.

The solution
“Because we offer our service as a webbased application to which users have a monthly subscription, it is expected that we will soon reach the limits of our infrastructure and thus we needed to look for new solutions that will keep the system running smoothly.

Deploying software services for the creative industries on the cloud
IN2 has worked on developing a more flexible media asset management platform (ON:meedi:a) which facilitates the creation of web-based applications that can be marketed to the cultural and creative industry following a SaaS business model.

One of the main components of ON:meedi:a is a service-oriented back-end for processing multimedia documents. This can handle individual raw files, but also assets already annotated with textual descriptions. The content is imported from the providers’ repositories either by mounting specific folders or by ingesting a media RSS stream. This allows the IM3I back-end to be independent of the metadata scheme of the content source and flexible to import all existing legacy content and structures. Furthermore, for each type of the imported content, the processing and

Cloud technologies were identified as a promising solution but before adopting it in production scenarios we had to know better how ON:meedi:a performs on such a distributed infrastructure and what the optimal configurations are. BONFIRE helped us do exactly that.
George Ioannidis Director IN2

analysis services can be re-configured in a pipeline workflow and run on independent virtual machines (VM), enabling true versatility. As a basis for the above, we developed an object-based model for content items and metadata, which is extensible in real time.

Multimedia analysis is a very resource intensive process in regard to CPU, memory and disk storage usage. To address this challenge it was paramount to explore how ON:meedi:a could be optimized and run on a multi-cloud infrastructure so that it could better be able to handle increased load and to achieve faster processing of media files (which directly translates into a better quality of experience for the end-user). Hence, MEDIAFIRE has experimented with a number of system and deployment configurations in order to determine the relations between the different variables that can be tweaked and the influence they have on the overall system performance.

In total 3 sets of experiments have been carried out within MEDIAFIRE, on two usage scenarios of the BONFIRE infrastructure: cloud with emulated network implications and extended cloud with complex physical network implications. We have made use of 3 sites: iMinds, EPCC and PSNC. In conducting the experiment we took an iterative approach, increasing the experiment complexity and realism gradually. The main dimensions in which we increased the complexity have been the number of system components running in a single VM (which resulted in the system being distributed over more VM types) and the number of machines running a given VM type.

In preparing and carrying out the experiments we had to make several modifications to our system, so that we can properly encapsulate functionality for automated deployment on virtual machines distributed across sites. A load balancer was also implemented for the deployment configurations in which several instances of the virtual machines running the multimedia analysis pipelines were used in parallel. In total 26 experiment runs have been carried out providing us with a valuable data about how the system behaves under various conditions.

”IN2 is an expert on multimedia management, search and publishing and our team would not have been able to get so many insights about running ON:meedi:a on a multi-cloud without the facilities provided by the BONFIRE infrastructure. Thanks to this we now understand how we can benefit from cloud technologies and we are much better prepared for our SaaS product to go viral.”
Alexandru Stan Project Manager IN2

Results
With MEDIAFIRE we were first of all able to collect hard data about the performance of ON:meedi:a running not only on a single cloud, but on a multi-cloud infrastructure. We have evaluated to what degree of distribution the system can be effectively deployed and what advantages are gained though this.

Many insights were gathered during the execution of the experiment, most notably how many files could be handled concurrently by specific system configurations. We discovered that running the system components responsible for the multimedia analysis and processing on several, less powerful virtual machines results in very significant improvements in the total processing time: over 3 times faster and can handle job arrival rates that were 4 times more frequent. Thus, while without parallelism it could take up to 6 hours to process the set of test video files, it was possible with 8 less powerful virtual machines to reduce this time to under 1 hour. Further improving the total processing time performance of the system is possible by running the two main components of the analysis pipeline on different virtual machines (and having several instances of those deployed in a given configuration). Through this approach even less powerful virtual machines are needed.

Added value of using BonFIRE
As the BonFIRE infrastructure provides enhanced facilities, IN2 has greatly benefited from:  A powerful test bed with the ability to use a wide variety of virtual machines: ability to create custom virtual machine instances that were powerful enough to support our resource intensive experiment  Carrying out experiments with an increased level of realism: ability to collect information about the effects of tweaking a particular variable in an experiment while keeping the rest controlled thus creating more easily comparable results datasets  User and machine friendly interfaces for interacting with the infrastructure: ability to have an overview and manage resources of an experiment that is spread across several sites thanks to a user-friendly web portal, a REST and a command line interface.  Great technical support services: responsive technical team to assist experimenters.

Next steps
Through the experiment we gained very valuable data on the system and the possible deployments that could be used. With these insights I N2’s technical team is in a much better position now to re-engineer ON:meedi:a and its deployment such that the commercial service for the creatives can scale well as required by the monthly number of subscribed users.

Your free and open Cloud testbed

BonFIRE Facility: open for experimentation
Following two successful Open Calls that have given academic researchers, developers and SMEs access to the Cloud infrastructures in BonFIRE, it is possible to apply for running experiments as part of the Open Access initiative. This is your chance to get involved and test your innovative ideas for free!

In Open Access, you will have access to a multi-site Cloud facility for applications, services and systems experimentation:

    

Large-scale, heterogeneous and virtualised compute, storage and networking resources Full control of your resource deployment In-depth monitoring and logging of both physical and virtual resources Advanced Cloud and network features Ease of use of experimentation

BonFIRE allows users to evaluate the effects of converged service and network infrastructures; assess the socio-economic impact of new Cloud services; and to combine Cloud computing and data storage with novel networking scenarios. Essentially, BonFIRE enables developers to research new, faster, cheaper or more flexible ways of running applications. Open Access will continue through 2014.

BonFIRE Project
The BonFIRE Project has funded experiments selected trough two open calls. This series of public case studies highlights the challenges and results of each experiment and the added value of the BonFIRE multi-cloud facility.

The BonFIRE consortium brings together world leading industrial and academic organisations in cloud computing to deliver a robust, reliable and sustainable facility for large scale experimentallydriven cloud research. The research leading to these results has received funding from the European Commission's Seventh Framework Programme (FP7/2007-2013) under grant agreement nº 257386

Contact information
Experiment contact information: Alexandru Stan (as@in-two.com). The research leading to these results has received funding from the European Phone:+ 44-131-5503741 Commission's Seventh Framework BonFIRE contact information Programme (FP7/2007-2013)

Provided by the Foundation

under grant agreement nº 257386 More information: www.bonfire-project.eu Contact: bonfire @ bonfire-project.eu

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