Time to rethink network orchestration and broadcast control

By Olivier Suard, Vice-President of Marketing, Nevion

Henry Ford, the founder of Ford Motor Company, once famously said: “if I had asked my customers what they wanted, they would have said faster horses”. In fairness, when confronted with changes, it’s quite natural to refer to what one knows. But sometimes, the change is so momentous, that new thinking is required. It was the case with motor vehicles, and it’s also the case in the broadcasting industry with the move to IP and IT technology.

When IP networking first came onto the live production scene, many broadcasters understood that it made sense to move to a standard used by all other industries. However, what they wanted was basically SDI, but with fewer cables.

As pioneers of IP deployments, Nevion (now a Sony Group Company) were constantly faced with demands to create self-managing networks based on a big, centralized IP router – just like in SDI. We had to explain, over and over, that IP was fundamentally different, and that a monolithic approach would limit the real potential of IP. For IP is not just a technology change, it is a game-changing revolution for production workflows – just like motor vehicles were not just about going faster and further than horses but about fundamentally transforming people’s lives. Thankfully, the broadcast industry has now largely accepted that concepts like spine-leaf architectures and seamless connectivity across LANs and WANs are the way to go.

There is however one area where old SDI habits die hard: management and orchestration.

In the SDI world, these are fairly simple. Firstly, the connectivity is limited to the facilities. If a connection to other locations is required, a phone call to technical staff is made well in advance and (hopefully) the connection is established. Secondly, everything happens in the central SDI router.

In the IP and IT world, things are very different. With distributed production, people, places and processing can be anywhere. So production staff need to be able to control connectivity and equipment beyond the facilities – seamlessly, dynamically, and on their own. Flows need to be orchestrated across LANs, WANs, 5G and even clouds (private or public), with capacity and bandwidth managed throughout.

Just like one would not steer a car with reins connected to the wheels, one cannot control IP workflows without a new approach to network orchestration and broadcast control.

That’s why broadcasters now need to rethink and prioritize management and orchestration.

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