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The momentum behind IP is undeniable. The recent NAB exhibition saw a passing of the technology torch from SDI to IP. The overwhelming industry consensus is that IP is the future of the broadcast and media industry.

Like all technology transformations, the transition from SDI to IP presents both opportunities and challenges. Media companies of all sizes and across all segments of the ecosystem are currently evaluating the merits and risks of moving operations to an IP infrastructure based on Commercial Off-the-Shelf (COTS) equipment.

What sometimes get lost in these evaluations is that many of the benefits of using COTS equipment for media workflows have already been validated in live production environments. The servers we use in playout and our storage systems are based on vendor-chosen, off-the-shelf servers. Similarly, IP networks have been an established part of the distribution landscape for years. What is changing is that the COTS technology is now available from the same manufacturers that power the world’s largest enterprise companies. This change provides choice in suppliers and a cost model that benefits from an economy of scale that is much better than what has been traditionally available to the media industry.

A second major change is the move away from proprietary media-specific implementations of technology to one that is based on the same open standards found in the world’s largest corporations. This requires a careful and thoughtful integration of the enterprise-grade technology that drives those large corporations and the demanding requirements and specific technologies that are almost exclusive to the media industry. This integration can only be guided by a company with decades of experience in the demanding world of live production

Imagine Communications is currently working with dozens of media companies to transition portions of their operations to agile, software-defined, COTS-based, IP-enabled environments:

  • In April, Imagine Communications unveiled a collaboration with Disney/ABC Television Group to transition the broadcast and entertainment giant’s global programming playout, delivery and network operations to a software-defined, IP-based private cloud architecture. Disney is leveraging Imagine Communications’ Versio platform to enhance the efficiency of its current network infrastructure, increase the velocity of service introductions and improve operations across diverse geographies through optimization and centralization of master control.
  • Imagine Communications is engaged with dozens of companies across the media and entertainment spectrum to bring more than 50 proof of concept projects into production. Media companies are steadily increasing efforts to leverage COTS IP and IT-based technologies to streamline playout, distribution and other video operations, as well as provision state-of-the-art disaster recovery facilities.
  • Recognizing that video is the new currency of the digital age, titans of the multibillion-dollar IT, cloud and datacenter industries are steadily extending their reach into the media domain. Imagine Communications has embraced the open standards of the enterprise IT space and forged close ties with the most prominent suppliers of networking, computing and cloud equipment and services in the world.


SDI-IP Hybrid

What’s made Imagine Communications’ IP transition strategy successful is recognition that each business will follow a unique path and timetable to IP. Central to our strategy is a hybrid environment that enables media companies to move to IP in a measured fashion with complete transparency of operations. Imagine Communications leverages state-of-the-art SDN technologies to provide a seamless transition to IP without imposing artificial timetables or forcing a wholesale replacement of SDI equipment. In this best-of-both-worlds scenario, media companies are able to leverage the cost and performance advantages of IP while retaining familiar and reliable tools and control surfaces of the SDI plant.

Imagine Communications’ IP transition strategy is designed to accommodate the most aggressive and the most deliberate migration approaches, as well as everything in between.

A hybrid environment facilitates a graceful and pragmatic transformation of the plant infrastructure into a collection of IP and SDI islands, which are interconnected through IP-enabled on- and off-ramps. As the IP domain expands, the need for SDI-to-IP cutovers diminishes, enabling the eventual removal of SDI routing and the migration and re-use of SDI-to-IP on-ramps and off-ramps to the edges of the network.

Imagine Communications’ IP transition strategy is designed to accommodate the most aggressive and the most deliberate migration approaches, as well as everything in between.

Age of Agility

The proliferation of smart devices, ubiquitous broadband Internet access – both fixed and mobile – and shifting video consumption patterns have forever altered the way video is produced, delivered and consumed. The only way media companies can meet the demands of a changing market is through the adoption of software-defined, IP-enabled, virtualized environments running on COTS servers. The bottom line benefit of COTS servers and IP is that they deliver levels of agility and scalability that SDI will never be able to match and that media companies will require to remain competitive in a rapidly evolving industry.

This new service velocity, the ability to stand up a new channel in minutes, rather than months, at a fraction of the cost of standing up the equivalent SDI infrastructure means that businesses can aggressively pursue new monetization opportunities and optimize costs in ways never before available. The ability to quickly define and build out a new service and run it on demand allows you to move to an operational pattern where costs more directly align with the revenue opportunity.

An agile, software-defined infrastructure also keeps the forklifts at bay. It provides the ability to adopt new technologies and standards without replacing significant amounts of infrastructure. It protects operational investments while providing a seamless roadmap to future changes in technology. The benefits of moving to a software-defined, COTS-based IP environment are clear. Speed, scale, and flexibility will quickly become the new norm in media operations.

Real-World Expertise

Media companies require a partner with equal expertise in SDI and IP and a rich history of leading customers through technology transitions. Recent announcements, including the release of a next-generation midsize baseband router, and deployments attest to our commitment to supply our customers with the solutions they need today, as well as tomorrow.

The transition to IP and COTS equipment is about more than technology. The end game of software-defined workflow and infrastructure is improving the way you manage and monetize your business. The move to IP and COTS servers gives you flexibility, scale, and a standards-based platform to build on. That’s why the most important step in your IP journey is partnering with a solution supplier with a history of helping media companies move their businesses forward through a measured and seamless transition to IP.

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portatif of Steve Reynolds


Steve Reynolds

Steve Reynolds is President of Imagine Communications, a global leader in multiscreen video and ad management solutions that broadcasters, networks, video service providers and enterprises around the world rely on to support their mission-critical operations.

Steve brings 25 years of technology leadership in the video industry to Imagine Communications. He has served as the CTO at Imagine Communications and Harris Broadcast, Senior Vice President of Premises Technology at Comcast, Senior Vice President of Technology at OpenTV, and CTO at Intellocity USA.

Steve earned a MS in Computer Engineering from Widener University and BS in Computer Science from West Chester University. As the Chairman of the AIMS Alliance and a member of SMPTE and SCTE, he has participated in numerous standards-making bodies in the cable and digital video industries. Steve also holds over 40 patents relating to digital video, content security, interactive television and digital devices.