Technology heads of the regions leading broadcast entities gathered at the Steigenberger Hotel Business Bay, Dubai on May 10, 2016 to share insight about the current status of IP and virtualisation and whether broadcasters are ready for it just yet. In a roundtable discussion hosted by BroadcastPro Middle East in association with Pebble Beach Systems, the participants […]
Technology heads of the regions leading broadcast entities gathered at the Steigenberger Hotel Business Bay, Dubai on May 10, 2016 to share insight about the current status of IP and virtualisation and whether broadcasters are ready for it just yet.
In a roundtable discussion hosted by BroadcastPro Middle East in association with Pebble Beach Systems, the participants discussed the benefits and challenges of virtualising playout and broadcasting from the cloud.
The roundtable participants included (in alphabetical order) Afzal Lakdawala, Head of Planning and Projects, DMI; Frank Kerrin, Director of Technology Support and Projects, OSN; Hasan Sayed Hasan, CEO, Master Media; Jaya Kumar, Manager, Playout Operations, du; Mohamed Abuagla, CTO/CIO, AJMN; Mohamed Al Halza, Saudi Broadcasting Corporation; Mowafaq Shammari, Projects Manager, Saudi Broadcasting Corporation; Nick Barratt, Senior Broadcast manager, MBC; Omar Alzoubi, Senior Manager, Engineering Systems, DMI; Peter Van Dam, Director of Technology at LIVE HD Broadcast Facilities, Abu Dhabi Media; Robert Sveb, Director of Global Technology Services, AJMN; and Saleh Lootah, Head of TV and Radio Engineering, DMI.
The discussion opened with an introduction to cloud and virtualisation, and the ground realities of deploying an all-software infrastructure. Are broadcasters ready for it yet? The panellists spoke about their respective cloud deployments, and it emerged that the region was still unsure about crossing over to public cloud. State broadcasters such as Abu Dhabi Media and DMI stated their limitations in moving their media assets to the cloud or deploying a virtual infrastructure in a public cloud. Security of media assets is still a concern for some, although Jaya Kumar of du explained how broadcasters globally are now warming up to the idea of playing out from public clouds. Government regulation and political constraints also play a role in defining clear boundaries for media assets.
Mohamed Abuagla touched upon the Al Jazeera media cloud and how Al Jazeera is using a hybrid model that integrates private and public cloud successfully. According to Abuagla, eventually broadcasters will take to the cloud; its just a matter of time as cost saving and scalability are major plusses of cloud infrastructures.
Yet another concern raised by the panellists was the lack of a complete end-to-end broadcast workflow in the cloud. No one in the world has it yet. While playout is achievable in the cloud, the production side is not ready. High connectivity cost is yet another deterrent for cloud solutions in the region. Private cloud seems like a viable solution for regional broadcasters as a step forward.
Also discussed was the technology involved in virtualisation. There are still a lot of questions regarding the technology. For example, there is much talk about SMPTE 2022-6 but is this really the standard to adopt or is it just a transitional standard? The panellists said that many of them were following the wait and watch approach till there is some consensus on IP standards.
The participants tried to find answers to some questions such as how virtual are the virtual solutions offered by vendors. What is the definition of virtualisation in the true sense and how far are we from deploying an end-to-end virtual system for broadcast?
The readiness of end users and systems integrators was discussed. Panellists pointed out how virtual systems are more about a direct relationship between vendors and end users, thereby removing SIs from the equation altogether.
Other talking points included whether the staff have data centre experience? How does the engineering department convince the security department about the benefits of cloud?
It was concluded, just as other industries rely on the cloud even for the most critical, high security data, broadcasters will also make the move sooner rather than later, when the pros outweigh the cons.
Do broadcasters have the vision to understand whether the organisation can benefit? Is there adequate control and monitoring for the remote technology? These are some of the questions posed to the panellists during the discussion.
The roundtable discussion will be extensively covered in the next issue of BroadcastPro ME.