IP: no “one size fits all”
The move towards IP was already clearly apparent in the broadcast world when the pandemic hit. Now, it is accelerating rapidly – not least because of how it uniquely enables remote production, which has swiftly become the default approach to, for example, the broadcasting of live sports. For many companies, IP represents the future of their network – and that’s especially true in the content delivery industry.
Why is IP achieving so much success? Simply: it is flexible, easily scalable, and cost-effective. It increases efficiency – which is surely the goal of any technology? Because IP uses standard, commercial off-the-shelf (COTS) hardware platforms, it enables a high degree of manufacturer-independence – broadening the choice of available solutions. Perhaps more importantly: as broadcast increasingly relies on the Internet for delivering content, there is a natural synergy, because IP is able to deliver universal, seamless connectivity.
Yes: we’re great believers in IP!
But: every case is different. All the customers we talk to have different reasons for considering a migration to IP. It could be, for example, that they’re looking to replace what SDI currently does for them. Or perhaps they believe SDI still has its place, and they’re looking to complement it with the capabilities that IP uniquely brings. It could be that the current network is too slow, or insufficiently reliable. Or: perhaps they’re looking to deliver a new service – but aren’t confident in the ability of the existing infrastructure to support it.
That’s why, here at SDNsquare, job one is to ask lots of questions upfront. What are their motives? What are their goals? How will they measure success? There is no ‘one size fits all’ when it comes to creating a network – especially not an IP network, given the host of possibilities and opportunities IP offers. Only when we understand the reasons for change can we recommend an appropriate solution.
Once in a lifetime
And speaking of IP… One of the more unusual cases we’ve worked on was one of those “once-in-a-lifetime” projects, such was its massive scale and international visibility. It required no fewer than 250 IP switches, close to 2,000 end devices – to manage more than 65,000 multicast and 8,000 unicast IP addresses. With our experience and engineering expertise, we were quickly able to determine which solutions would work – and which solutions wouldn’t.
That got us thinking about the necessity for absolutely meticulous preparation. So: ‘Be Prepared’ is not only the motto of Baden-Powell: it’s also ours. We must prepare ourselves by doing a lot of thinking things through beforehand, and practicing how we will act in any accident or emergency – so that we and the customer are never taken by surprise.
We also quickly realised: a whole lot of cables would be involved! That got us thinking about the necessity for fibre optic cabling, with its massively increased bandwidth when compared with copper.
It also got us thinking about how, in an installation of such size and complexity, an absolute requirement was some form of software solution to enable easy and quick cable checking, and automated network design and configuration to be used before any installation – and so we went ahead and designed some. Those will prove invaluable for us and our customers in the future.
The devil is in the detail
Whether it’s a huge, complex network like the one I mentioned, or something altogether more simple – the devil is always in the detail. That’s where our knowledge comes in: we know it’s the small things that make the difference. And, of course, when it comes to making a difference – our GRID IP network orchestration capability can cope with all types of data stream or media use case while eliminating packet loss, and delivering low latency. In place of installing multiple networks for each function, we can converge all workflows into one scalable network, with just one investment.
When a flow is configured, we know beforehand if it will run with the highest QoS. If a device is not acting correctly, our GRID network solution will protect the network from the faulty behaviour. Because the network is so well managed, there is no need to overconfigure it or to build in unnecessary capacity ‘just in case’ – and so the resulting solution is more cost-effective.
At the end of the day, we want you to have the freedom to focus more on media workflow than on the infrastructure and connections enabling it.
And: don’t forget SDNsquare’s L-GRID , which increases the efficiency of your storage and your core network and acts as an IP traffic shaper. Or WARP, our linearly scalable, clustered storage and computing platform that supports real-time workflows in the most demanding environments.
Why don’t you let us ask you lots of questions about your vision for your future network?
Author: Henry Alexander, CEO at SDNsquare