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It’s always good to have options.

Whether you’re a recent university graduate on the brink of a 40-year career, an up-and-coming actor looking to avoid career-paralyzing typecasting or a producer or distributor of high-quality video battling to keep pace with a rapidly evolving industry, a surplus of choices is exactly what you need to take on the future.

For the longest time, broadcasters and other media companies were limited to a single option for practicing their craft, producing their wares. For roughly the past 75 years they relied solely on purpose-built hardware platforms for all stages of the workflow. And that approach served them well, as long as viewers were content to consume their news and entertainment from their couches and at a precisely appointed time.

What this means to broadcasters is that the reign of big iron production practices is coming to an end.

But times have changed. Television is just as popular and intrinsic to the culture as ever before — if not more so. But everything else about the video consumption experience is evolving. People now view video whenever and on whatever device suits them. Binge viewing is becoming commonplace. Cords are being cut and consumers are satisfying their video joneses from a variety of sources, including bypassing traditional distributors and going directly to content creators.

So long Hardware

2016: Focus Forward Technology Trends Report: What this means to broadcasters is that the reign of big iron production practices is coming to an end. Video production, playout and distribution environments require major infusions of agility to keep pace with consumer demand. Only a migration to software-based, virtualized environments makes that happen.

Anchoring operations exclusively to purpose-built hardware no longer cuts it. To produce and distribute the amount of video that consumers now crave and that is compatible with an ever-diversifying roster of formats and distribution models requires the severing of functionality from dedicated hardware. It’s becoming increasingly clear that broadcasters must expand their current deployment and operational models to include options for moving production, playout and monetization operations to virtualized environments, including the public cloud.

It’s so clear, in fact, that 57% of media and entertainment industry professionals expect that between 25 and 50% of their operations will be located in a private or public cloud setting in the next five years, according to a 2016 published survey conducted by Imagine Communications.

Hello Software

Imagine Communications has been adapting its next-gen solutions for the datacenter for the past few years, abstracting market-leading functionality from purpose-built hardware and conditioning it to deliver the same precision and performance on commercial-off-the-shelf (COTS) compute and networking platforms that media professionals demand and expect. All of the company’s next-gen solutions now run on software, empowering broadcasters, content distributors and other media companies to adopt the deployment model — premises-based, datacenter or hybrid — that best fits their current requirements and best positions them for the future.

In recognition of the power of choice, Imagine Communications recently broadened the number of deployment options it offers broadcasters, making several of its next-gen solutions available from the Microsoft Azure cloud platform. The company announced at the end of March that its market-leading playout, live encoding and dynamic ad insertion solutions are Microsoft Azure Certified and available through the Azure Marketplace.

The new services, based on Versio™ and Ad Insertion for Multiscreen (AIM), provide broadcasters, video service providers and other segments of the ecosystem with new monetization opportunities and the potential to dramatically improve the speed, efficiency and flexibility of media workflow operations by enabling secure, scalable and on-demand access via Azure.

By moving operations to a cloud environment, media companies can realize an array of cost, service and performance advantages:

  • No upfront hardware investment
  • Simple provisioning and decommissioning of resources
  • Virtualization of operations
  • No additional datacenter footprint investment
  • Ability to use elastic capacity to support new launches or peak events
  • A geographically dispersed platform with built-in security and reliability
  • A choice of on-premises, private or public cloud or hybrid deployment models for video processing and distribution
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