Does the cloud have substance?


Ciaran Doran - new TV-Bay Magazine
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Just at the moment, every customer we talk to wants to move to the cloud. It is not just a techno-buzzword: people are really attracted by it. The idea of getting rid of all hardware and letting someone else worry about keeping machine rooms alive seems like a good plan.

And they sometimes feel a bit deflated when we talk quietly and calmly about what is practical, what the benefits are and where the drawbacks lie, and what they really need to make it work.

I should emphasise right at the start that we have proven, working cloud solutions which we can deliver today. StreamMasterTM provides full playout functionality with sophisticated graphics & DVE, from the public cloud if required. Pixel FactoryTM automates branding and cross-channel promotion.

But the typical broadcast facility needs more technology than these two, admittedly mission-critical, functions. And you need to be able to select the right tools and functionality for what your business needs. You have always chosen the best of breed: why should things change now?

On the surface what we have done is migrated audio and video functionality from software running on hardware we had to build ourselves because it was the only way to get enough power to software running on standard hardware. That in itself does not achieve very much: despite some of the lavish claims it does not save you a chunk of money.

The benefits come when you have a complete rethink the way you build the technology platform.

Thanks to initiatives like AIMS, we are fast approaching a situation where the software from different vendors can talk to each other, using open standards like SMPTE 2110. That is what lets you choose best of breed.

All those software applications can run on the same hardware, so the big leap is to run it on the same hardware while spooling up and down as and when required. When you need to create a package of trailers, Factory grabs as many processors as it needs. And when it is finished, it releases them and the next process takes them. That could be a non-linear transcoder for catch-up TV, or it could be the company payroll.

This is the paradigm shift. This is virtualization. You can rebuild your existing machine room to be a processor farm, or you can co-locate the broadcast functionality with your business's data centre, or you can rent processing resources from a specialist datacenter, which might be a private cloud or it could be an industry giant like AWS.

I mentioned the paradigm shift for broadcasters, but it is also a paradigm shift for vendors, too. Our customers tell us "we don't want to buy your hardware, and we don't want to buy your software either. We want to rent your software, only when we need it, over a virtualized network."

That's right. The smart vendor should not be looking to take large sums out of your capital budget: they should be looking to rent you functionality, by the complexity and by the hour. If you need an hour a day of 4k graphics rendering, why should you have to go out and buy a big expensive box that most of the time is sitting there doing nothing except taking up rack space and air conditioning?

That ability to rent functionality as and when you need it is another part of the paradigm shift. Want to test the market with a new channel offering, or maybe an Ultra HD service? The capital cost of setting it up makes trials difficult and unfeasible. But if you just need to rent the branding and playout while the trial service is running, then it becomes a very attractive market-testing idea.

You could set up a pop-up channel for just a day or two, around a big sports or entertainment event. You could even run an occasional channel that test-marketed new content, offered to specific demographics to see if a pilot is worth taking into production. All you are doing is paying for the software while you need it, and the processing and storage in your data centre or in the cloud.

I have two pieces of advice to help you through the paradigm shift. First, our experience is that the biggest problems come not from the technology but from the organisation's ability to change. You have to create completely new workflows, and you have to take your people with you. The benefits are huge, but the challenges are not insignificant.

And linked to that is the need to work with a technology partner you can trust. Successful innovation in our industry relies on creativity, shared purpose, linked intelligence and trust. With 30 years dedicated to the broadcast industry, demonstrating and earning that trust is a central part of what we do. Through it, our customers know that if we say we can do something there is real substance there. Never smoke and mirrors, even if we are talking the cloud!


Tags: iss123 | pixel power | cloud | aims | virtualization | Ciaran Doran - new
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Live Event Wireless Intercoms
Tom Turkington Live programming is a powerful tool for broadcasters against the encroachment of OTT services and the ensuing loss of advertisement revenues. Live content is the answer to drawing viewers. Broadcasters are constantly searching for ways to provide more live sports, news and other live content to viewers.
Tags: iss125 | intercom | pliant | ob | Tom Turkington
Submitted by Tom Turkington Read this article in the tv-bay digital magazine
Misinterpreting complexity for sophistication
Dick Hobbs - new Professor Niklaus Wirth was one of the pioneers of computing as we know it. He was responsible for the Pascal language, a project he completed in 1970. Wirth became professor of computing studies at ETH-Zrich, and retired in 1999, although he remains active to this day.
Tags: iss125 | cutting room | dick hobbs | niklaus wirth | pscal | oberon | brad gilmer | amwa | Dick Hobbs - new
Submitted by Dick Hobbs - new Read this article in the tv-bay digital magazine
Object Based Audio - The first steps
Peter Poers The world of broadcast audio is about to reach new levels as we embrace the future in terms of Next Generation Audio (NGA). Although at this stage we can't be precise about what this will bring, we do know that some 3D Immersive formats are already under development and will find their way into broadcast production and distribution very soon. Unlike the world of relatively constrained channel based coding that we are accustomed to, these new codec systems will support more channels and/or object based audio coding. For the end consumer, there will be two major benefits - a greater sense of involvement or immersion and a degree of personalisation. That's what the promises are.
Tags: iss125 | immersive audio | junger | nga | oba | Peter Poers
Submitted by Peter Poers Read this article in the tv-bay digital magazine
What happened to audio networking
Brad Price It may seem hard to believe, but audio networking has now been with us for over 20 years. In 1996, Peak Audio released CobraNet, the first system that used computer networking of some sort to transport audio.
Tags: iss125 | audinate | networking | audio | dsp | Brad Price
Submitted by Brad Price Read this article in the tv-bay digital magazine
Welcome to the world of filming The Island with Bear Grylls
Paul Scurrell How do you make a polished television show worthy of broadcast on Channel 4 when the camera operators are starving, dehydrated and sleep deprived? Most of them also have no previous experience of professional filming and are more concerned with finding their next meal than making sure they've got their cameras switched on ready to record. Welcome to the world of filming The Island with Bear Grylls.
Tags: iss124 | bear grylls | channel 4 | gopro | timecode | sync | Paul Scurrell
Submitted by Paul Scurrell Read this article in the tv-bay digital magazine
Thinking clearly about the cloud
Chris Steel 2 As someone who is constantly trying to build better products, I'm always asking questions and listening to the ones I get asked. For several years now I've asked every broadcaster and media production company I've met what they plan to do about 'the cloud'
Tags: iss124 | cloud | marquis | archive | network | Chris Steel 2
Submitted by Chris Steel 2 Read this article in the tv-bay digital magazine
Is now the time to compromise on investment
Mike Ransome - new It would seem on the face of it that many broadcasters and production companies are trimming spending to the bone, or at least postponing it in anticipation of more lucrative days to come.
Tags: iss124 | investment | presteigne broadcast hire | 4k | eng | Mike Ransome - new
Submitted by Mike Ransome - new Read this article in the tv-bay digital magazine