Transform your business and elevate your competitive standing
Break through the Hype
The reality is that buried beneath the hype surrounding the cost/ performance advantages of IT-based technologies are several practical and business-improving benefits. Transitioning your operations to an agile environment based on generic hardware resources brings a bounty of benefits with the potential to move your operations – your business – forward. If done correctly and with the right partner, moving from SDI to IP can transform your business and elevate your competitive standing.
What follows are seven of the most critical business-improving benefits of IP:
1. Accelerate Technology Transitions
It’s almost impossible to exaggerate the flexibility and efficiency benefits of moving processing and distribution workflows to a software-only environment. Transitioning functionality, which formerly executed on discrete hardware, to virtual environments is a foolproof formula for future-proofing your business.
Remaining competitive in the media industry requires undertaking nearly continuous technology refreshes. Instead of forcing you to fire up the forklift with every codec, resolution, protocol or format that comes along, a software-based approach delivers your operations to the cutting edge without requiring a major hardware overhaul.
2. Business Unification
Chances are that at least a portion of your video operations, such as asset management, has already moved onto IT equipment. It’s even more likely that your business has an IP-based infrastructure in place for hosting traditional business processes. Moving video operations to IP unifies all of your business’ processes into a single network controlled by a single management system, potentially cutting operational costs dramatically.
But it’s not just cost savings that are driving this convergence. Workflows across the business are becoming tightly integrated. The process that started a few years ago of combining discrete video production, processing and distribution functions into integrated workflows is expanding to include additional business processes. It only makes sense to integrate analytics, billing and other software-based functions into traditional video production and distribution workflows. A converged network makes that transformation possible.
3. Routing Efficiency
Ethernet pipes are not just bigger than SDI-based pipes — they are significantly more efficient. In an IP-based facility, for example, not only can multiple streams of video and audio be sent over the same connection, IP pipes can carry command and control data, such as automation and system telemetry.
IP signal streams can also be of infinite length. The ability to send IP packets around the globe opens up new economic models, providing a low-cost alternative to satellite distribution options. The ubiquity of IP connectivity also allows content creators and distributors to centralize production capabilities, such as master control. Media companies no longer require engineering and operations talent to be tied to specific physical locations.
4. Scale & Portability
A virtualized IP environment is, by nature, portable. Media companies can move all or portions of their operations to cloud environments — private and, eventually, public — at their own pace and as they outgrow premises-based facilities. A virtualized environment is also easily scaled or reconfigured to support peak loads. The elastic nature of a virtualized environment enables media companies to expand and reduce resources as needed and in alignment with current demand.
A related benefit is the ability to reconfigure commercial off-the-shelf (COTS)resources for multiple functions, essentially on the fly. No longer will you need to purchase processing power that sits idle for long stretches at a time. Systems that might be dedicated to news during primetime, for example, could be used for media ingest at other times.
5. Unprecedented Agility
With functionality tied to dedicated hardware assets, expanding a service or increasing productivity requires the commissioning and configuration of function-specific hardware, a process that could take months and cost millions. In a virtualized environment, allocating the resources for a new channel can be done almost as easily as pushing a button.
With the financial risks and resource limitations of delivering new services a thing of the past, media companies now have the freedom to unleash their creativity like never before. Media companies can now afford to push out content to new geographies or introduce event-based channels, which can be spun up or torn down as needed. No longer are monetization opportunities shaped by the limitations of technology.
6. Built-in Redundancy
IP and virtualization create new ways of tackling redundancy. An IP video stream, for example, allows error correction at the packet level, enabling the switching of good packets for bad on the fly. IP also makes possible an N+1 redundancy scheme, where any suitable system can be the backup system for other systems.
High availability is another byproduct of virtualization. System maintenance can be done without missing a beat or disrupting operations. Engineers simply move operations from primary systems to backups until repairs or upgrades can be completed. Geo-diversity, another characteristic of IP-based operations, enables media companies to utilize backup facilities as disaster recovery sites, ensuring business continuity in the event of an operational disruption.
7. Bulked-up security
Baseband and traditional broadcast facilities in general are no safe havens from security threats, as recent news of security breaches indicate. In contrast, video encased in IP packets can be protected through encryption and access to IP network switches can be carefully controlled.
IP-based private and public cloud datacenters are gaining credibility as reliable safeguards of digital assets. Public data storage and computing providers are investing billions to protect information against state-sponsored attacks and other cyber threats. Many security experts estimate that information stored in third-party datacenters may now be less vulnerable to attack than information stored in private networks.
Your path. Your pace.
Regardless of all the benefits — both obvious and not-so-obvious — of transitioning to IP, not all media companies are facing the same urgency to modernize their facilities. Many are in different stages of product lifecycles and must be careful to protect previous baseband investments.
And not all processes will neatly transition to an IP realm at the same time. An across-the-board transition only makes sense if every aspect of your operation — processing, playout, distribution — will benefit from being repurposed in a software-only, virtualized environment.
The best protection against making a misstep is to partner with a supplier that understands your business — where it is today and where it needs to be tomorrow. Only a partner with a baseband legacy and IP mindset can provide a measured and transparent transition to a virtualized IP environment. Moving to IP is a multifaceted, not a monolithic, operation. Make sure you have a partner that can help you transition your operations step-by-step, beginning with the portions that will benefit the most from the cost and agility benefits of IP.
And make sure your partner supports a hybrid environment of SDI and IP equipment that leverages the latest IP innovations, such as Software Defined Networking (SDN). Media companies will need to support a mix of SDI and IP workflows for the foreseeable future. An SDN-based control system shields the complexity of IT from media professionals, enabling engineers and operators to manage their businesses with familiar tools and control surfaces. It also allows media companies to build out IP plants with industry standard IP equipment, rather than proprietary gear.
In this best-of-both-worlds scenario, media companies are able to move to IP incrementally and enjoy the peace of mind that comes with knowing that the baseband equipment you purchase today brings with it the IP capabilities you’ll need in the future.
The all-IP plant is a compelling and worthwhile destination. But the journey is just as important. When you’re ready for IP, make sure you work with a supplier that can deliver you to your IP destination on your terms and on your timetable.