Benefits of professional media evolution to IP: Part Two

September 17, 2020

By Matthew Goldman, SVP Technology, MediaKind

In the first part of my blog, I addressed some of the key processes which have helped to drive broadcasters to make the transition from industry-specific to internet protocol (IP) based infrastructure. It’s only very recently that we have seen the emergence of effective standards and architectures which can enable the Broadcast and Media (BAM) industry to make the necessary switch from Serial Digital Interface (SDI) to IP. Now, it’s a very feasible option.

Thanks to the work of the Joint Taskforce on Network Media (JT-NM) – the combined efforts of four BAM industry associations (AMWA, EBU, SMPTE and VSF) – an all-IP architecture and roadmap for open interoperability has been defined, and the industry has created new standards and specifications that implement it. These include the SMPTE ST 2110 suite of standards for Professional Media Over Managed IP Networks, SMPTE ST 2059 standards for the Use of IEEE 1588 Precision Time Protocol in Professional Broadcast Applications, AMWA NMOS IS-04 Discovery and Registration specification, and AMWA NMOS IS-05 Device Connection Management specification.

Standards such as SMPTE ST 2110 and ST 2059 are enabling broadcasters to have not only the ability to benefit from a standardized route towards replacing SDI with IP, but also the possibility to launch an array of exciting new applications based on, and leveraged off, IT protocols and infrastructure. There is a clear benefit here; broadcasters do not need to maintain two separate operations (staffing or infrastructure) for managing intra-facility traffic. Instead, professional media and general IT data can be managed by a common operation.

Addressing the global skills shortage

Nevertheless, the migration to an all-IP infrastructure and the concurrent transformation of media processing functions to cloud-native software has created a bit of a global skills shortage, which my colleague Arnaud Caron once described as “the major inhibitor to cloud adoption.” This is certainly a challenge our industry can overcome though; we have proven it time and time again with each technology shift!

While this technology change is often equated to the next evolution after the shift from analog to digital, it is actually more analogous to the industry’s move from tape driven archiving to media file storage. After this major technology change, we did not simply treat media files as virtual tapes. Instead, a whole new set of applications were created that built upon this new ease of direct information access, producing new workflows and solutions not even thought of at the time of the shift.

The future of all-IP

If we consider the pervasiveness of IT in our personal and professional lives, the drive towards all-IP is the natural next step. Today’s broadcasters are using perhaps hundreds of thousands of pieces of equipment worldwide. When you take into account how the proliferation of IT equipment is to the tune of perhaps hundreds of billions of pieces of equipment, it’s apparent where the economies of scale now exist. The transition to all-IP infrastructure and protocols also represents the logical next step, particularly when you consider the combination of legacy hardware reaching end-of-life and on-premises data centers running out of capacity. This will also further enable the transition to cloud-native software-defined media processing – another major benefit to the BAM industry’s leveraging of IT-based technology.

Of course, for broadcasters who are just beginning their transition to all-IP, the opportunity to adopt a hybrid process is a compelling option. Indeed, the use of Software-as-a-Service models will also play an influential role in enabling the commercial realities of all-IP models, without having to overcome the immediate technical hurdles. My MediaKind colleagues, Raul Aldrey and Steve Payne, have both written about the future relationships between vendors and content providers in this context in their recent blog posts. Whichever route broadcasters take, what is clear is that that the non-IP workflow will increasingly become the exception rather than the rule by the end of this decade. You can come back in 2030 and let me know if I’m wrong!

The importance of the Joint Taskforce on Network Media (JT-NM)

The bottom line is the professional media evolution to all-IP is real. During major trade shows over the past several years (including the NAB Show and the IBC), over 50 vendors demonstrated this technology at the IP Showcase. Together, we showed its interoperability with the SMPTE ST 2110 standards and its long-term potential. The all-IP workflow is ready now, and the BAM industry is embracing its all-IP future.

MediaKind is an active participant in the Joint Taskforce on Network Media (JT-NM) Tested program. Sponsored by the JT-NM, the JT-NM Tested program offers prospective purchasers of IP based equipment greater, more documented insight into how vendor equipment aligns with the SMPTE ST 2110, SMPTE ST 2059 standards, JT-NM TR-1001-1 and AMWA NMOS specifications and to Cybersecurity practices listed in EBU documents. For the last round of tests, which were completed in March 2020, vendors who submitted self-tested results in accordance with JT-NM Tested test plans and agreed to make their results public are listed, along with their products’ self-tested results in the JT-NM Tested Report. This report is available online here.

MediaKind is proud to have received two SMPTE ST 2110 Tested Badges, for our Encoding Live real-time encoder and our RX1 Ultra-HD integrated receiver decoder. While vendor self-testing is not a certification program, it provides a snapshot in time of how vendor equipment performs when tested in accordance with test plans developed by the JT-NM.

Click here to read the first part of Matthew Goldman’s blog.

You can now watch Matthew’s recent webinar ‘Professional Media Evolution to IP’ on-demand.  Watch it here!