For more than the past 12 months, I have been travelling the globe discussing and presenting the benefits broadcasters can gain by navigating the journey towards all-IP interfaces, protocols, and infrastructures. The need for more agile service delivery has never been greater, particularly at a time when a host of new media players, including pure OTT Providers and Content Owner/Originators, are entering the market with exciting, immersive service offerings that are being delivered to consumers faster than ever before.
The economies of scale and flexibility that IT infrastructures offer present broadcasters with a compelling incentive to migrate from broadcast-specific architectures to IT-based solutions. As we watch the growing convergence of mobility, social and broadband, the need for software-defined media processing, cloud architecture and IP-connected video consumption has become an industry imperative. These software-defined methodologies are helping to enable greater efficiencies, superior workflows and higher quality delivery.
The IT industry has had a natural advantage over all other industries, in that it has evolved and adapted with an inherent ‘all-IP’ architecture where everything is already software-based over commodity hardware. Given the pervasiveness of IT in our personal and professional lives today, the shift towards all-IP is something that the media and entertainment industry must now aspire to – and leverage. Today’s broadcasters are using hundreds of thousands – perhaps millions – of pieces of equipment worldwide. When you consider that other operators are developing the use of IP over an ethernet backbone – and therefore utlizing the maturity of perhaps a trillion pieces of equipment – it’s clear that the better economies of scale exist elsewhere.
In some of my recent presentations, I have put forward a slide containing a photograph which illustrates what a broadcast equipment center will look like from 2020. And it’s simple. The future lies in technology stacks, with enormous amounts of data stored in the cloud in network operations centers. Standards such as SMPTE ST 2110 ensure that broadcasters now can leverage internet protocols. In terms of contribution, live production and playout, the benefits of IP are clear:
- It enhances the flexibility and agility of the video plant.
- It is compatible with network interfaces on commodity ethernet switches and commodity servers.
- It provides flexible association of streams into desired groups of media.
- It offers network-based registration and discovery of devices, streams and media capabilities.
- It is denser than SDI and inherently bi-directional.
- It is agnostic to specific video formats (e.g. resolution, bit-depth, frame rates).
So, what does the picture look like today? To find out, I invite you to attend my panel session at the NAB Show on Monday April 8 (14:00 – 15:00) at the IP Showcase Theater in the Central Hall (#C12634) to learn more about some of the success stories and recent real-world deployments behind all-IP. With the panelists I have it will prove to be an interesting and exciting insight into how all-IP is actually happening today!
We will explore a number of the new all-IP standards and specifications which have been completed – including SMPTE ST 2110 and ST 2059 standards, as well as AMWA NMOS specifications – and discuss initial deployments that are already underway. We will also highlight how broadcasters can overcome challenges to leverage the benefits of transforming to all-IP, the current state of the industry – and review what needs to be done next.
To get a better insight into some of the discussions the panel and I may have, watch my IBC 2018 IP Showcase session ‘All IP is real! The State of SMPTE ST 2110 Based Deployments’ below. If you’re attending NAB Show 2019 – I hope to see you next week!