Sky Italia optimises its broadcast supply chain with Aspera

Date: 20/10/2010
Recognised as Italy’s most popular pay-TV company, Sky Italia delivers an exceptionally vast and diverse array of programming to its four million subscribers, including exclusive soccer coverage, multiple sports, cinema and entertainment channels. With about 250 post-production partners providing short-form media content (advertising and promotions), it became necessary for Sky Italia to look into an upgraded IT infrastructure that would effectively cope with the increasing demands of the contribution process and streamline broadcast operations.
 
“Our primary objective with this new implementation is to shorten lead times on material procurement,” explained Martin Brannigan, head of broadcast operations at Sky Italia. “We are looking to achieve maximum velocity to on-air playout with high-performance media ingest, delivery and distribution workflows.”
 
Aspera software was selected as the core technology solution of choice following a thorough evaluation, which involved performing large-scale transfers with major content partners at global distances. Sky Italia’s technology team required the right combination of transfer performance, software usability and data security; they also sought immediate compatibility with the largest number of partners and suppliers. Having researched market penetration for digital transport solutions, they identified Aspera as the clear leader in the broadcast and digital media space.
 
“Not only does Aspera software offer excellent ease-of-use for our operators,” continued Brannigan, “its transport technology stands out as the emerging standard with a majority of our media partners.”
 
Sky Italia’s broadcast infrastructure relies on two main facilities – Milan and Rome – connected with a 200 Mbps fiber backbone, and both equipped with substantial WAN bandwidth to the outside world. Aspera supplied and installed a comprehensive high-speed file transfer solution for content ingest, delivery and archive that includes one Aspera Connect Server, two Point-to-Point clients and the Aspera Console transfer management application.
 
The initial rollout focuses on short-form content ingest from a large number of partners who provide post-production, dubbing and quality assurance services. To that effect, the Aspera Connect Server is deployed in the Milan facility’s DMZ and acts as the central ingest server, where all content is uploaded from trusted partners outside the Sky Italia network. Using the Aspera Point-to-Point software, the incoming media can then be automatically delivered to the broadcast network where on-air playout capabilities reside. With another instance of the Aspera Point-to-Point software deployed in the Rome facility, the system simultaneously provides a high-performance disaster/recovery architecture between the two sites, capable of moving up to 2 terabytes of data each day. With the Aspera Console installed within Sky Italia’s IT network in Milan, operators have the ability to manage, control and monitor all transfer activity, bandwidth utilization and server configurations.
 
Thanks to its highly scalable, open architecture, the system also provides the ability to integrate high-speed file transfer operations with automated media processing steps, yielding further efficiencies and cost savings. “We can easily outsource quality control for our HD content,” said Brannigan. “Our partner uploads the resulting media via Aspera and this triggers an automated QC step at Sky. Media is then automatically registered and pushed straight to air.”
 
Looking to the near future, Sky Italia is planning on utilizing the new infrastructure for ingest of long-form content such as episodic television from US-based content providers. In that scenario, high-speed delivery of file-based content over the WAN is not only convenient; it is also a great tool against piracy: the ability to bring prime US content to local markets within hours of the original air time, instead of days or months, is becoming a key requirement for international broadcasters. It greatly reduces the window of opportunity for pirates to intercept and distribute the content via illicit channels before it is being made available to local audiences. The system was also designed to support quick and efficient gathering of field-generated news content from remote contributors via the Aspera Connect browser plug-in architecture.
 
“This new infrastructure is game-changing for us,” Brannigan said. “The efficiencies, compressed lead times and cost savings are the key reasons behind the deployment of Aspera software, it will bring us closer to our partners and suppliers.”


Tags: sky italia | aspera
Submitted by TV-Bay

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