Harmonic Inc

By: Harmonic Inc on August 13th, 2014

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Virtualization in Broadcast

Virtualization is now mainstream in data centers with up to 70% adoption. Broadcast architectures are now dominated by IT infrastructure so further rationalization within this sector will mean embracing a technology that is already dominant in the IT and enterprise sector.

  1. Video processing is heavily reliant on CPU and storage. This has traditionally meant bespoke products and solutions have been required to address the processing, bandwidth and storage requirements. The performance requirements of video are now down to the levels that are manageable on servers for all but the most demanding video applications.
  2. Traditional broadcast headends have been designed around technology implementations in products that result in a non-optimal partitioning of functionality.
  3. Redundancy in broadcast has all been about replicating functionality to achieve a high degree of resilience to failure within a system. This has led to significant over-provisioning, which could be avoided through a more dynamic approach to resource allocation in the event of failure.
  4. Technology refresh in the broadcast domain is seldom about a “like for like” replacement these days, so a separation between the functionality implemented and the base hardware is logical to provide flexibility.
  5. Agility is now a key aspect in today’s media with scheduling and evolving playout platforms dictating a more flexible approach to deployments in order to adapt to media changes and content streaming needs.
  6. While undoubtedly the ability of servers to absorb functionality previously only available in dedicated hardware is a major initial draw to virtualization, the medium to long-term appeal is to layer a range of media functionality dynamically across virtual machines without leading to network or storage contention.
  7. Social media, audience preference and targeted advertising are all examples of analytic data that are essential complements to any form of programming today. These back office functions are already heavily virtualized to mine vast big data, transforming the unstructured into the essential drivers behind programming.
  8. Running multiple functions on virtual machines reduces port counts, interconnections, rack space and power.
  9. Bespoke broadcast infrastructure is expensive to support when compared to more commonplace IT/enterprise installations. Virtualization promotes moves to enable media specialists to concentrate on media content rather than the background infrastructure.

– Ian Trow, Sr. Director, Emerging Technology & Strategy, Harmonic