Miroslav Jeras, CTO at Pebble, talks here about virtualised playout, a topic on the minds of broadcasters right now as they come to terms with how it will affect their businesses, employees, customers and the wider industry.
The virtualisation of playout is not a new idea but its evolution accelerated rapidly as the pandemic took hold, changing the broadcast industry fundamentally within a timeframe that has not been seen before and, as Miroslav said, you would hope will not happen again.
“Effectively, the broadcast community turned on a dime,” he said. “Many pivoted, more or less overnight, to workflows to fit in with the patchwork of lockdown restrictions that were enacted around the world. If they had some of the required infrastructure already in place before the pandemic, they adapted it. If they did not, they quickly adopted it out of sheer necessity. “
The need to operate remotely, leveraging automation and using the cloud quickly became apparent, and concerns about adopting cloud workflows were soon alleviated. These changes were always going to happen, according to Miroslav – the pandemic just accelerated the process.
Remote Operation, Automation and the Cloud
“The move towards virtualised playout is one key long-term trend that those changes have promoted, and the benefits are considerable,” he said. “Virtualised playout enables broadcasters to deploy IP-based channels without the need for racks of proprietary hardware and without compromising preferred workflows. Meanwhile, the ability to launch and decommission channels for short term requirements has expanded tremendously, as well as the ability to host operational infrastructure in a standard data centre environment.
“That’s not to say that the process is seamless across the industry just yet. Depending on who you are working with and the kind of technology you’re using, the transportation of media between premises and the cloud can be challenging. These challenges can be mitigated by working with a vendor you can trust, who will carefully listen to your requirements and offer a solution that is right for your infrastructure and workflows. However, a need remains for more vendors and end users to adopt and embrace open standards, so that everyone uses virtualised playout systems in a compatible way.”
A difference of opinion also exists in terms of adopting a CAPEX or an OPEX model, based on the infrastructure already in place. “The key here is identifying what the challenge is and finding an appropriate solution to meet customer needs and access the benefits of using virtualised playout,” Miroslav said.
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