Andy Warman

By: Andy Warman on January 24th, 2020

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Channel Origination in the Cloud: A Key Trend for 2020

Spotting new or emerging trends can be difficult, especially early on. Just because there is a lot of hype around a new technology or solution doesn’t guarantee mass adoption will really happen.

One key trend that emerged for video in 2020: channel origination in the cloud. The concept is simple: you can deliver content to end-users — consumers as well as distributors — from a single cloud platform. Channel origination is the starting point for channels using file-based playout and graphic branding directly tied to the rest of the delivery chain. It’s an all-software solution running on a public or private cloud. With this approach, there is no need to step out of the cloud for any processing or redundancy workflows, unless you choose to.

What makes channel origination a trend?

The adoption of cloud channel origination is already underway. It is not yet generally being used for the delivery of premium services or complex channels. It is being embraced by content owners and distributors that are new to linear channel delivery. These new players are looking to reduce operational costs and want to streamline workflows, making them easier to operate while adding new channels.

Channel origination is in the early phase of adoption. Capabilities are growing at a rapid rate. While there is no default feature set yet, its progression mirrors appliance products for CiaB (channel in a box). The key is that it’s 100% software in nature, and it offers ingest, playout, graphic branding and the rest of the cloud delivery chain, including encoding, encryption, statmux, origin and other services that run in the same cloud.

What to look for in 2020

Keep your eye on cloud computing. Cloud computing is becoming increasingly important for the media and entertainment industry. By leveraging cloud computing, channel origination, and distribution radically reduce the need for dedicated appliances.

This is because channel origination goes beyond just recreating CiaB in the cloud. CiaB in the cloud, or cloud playout, is simply too narrow of scope for today's market. It is a siloed approach that assumes conventional organizational structures. Although, it may well continue to be the norm for all content providers and distributors. However, this is not the case for many new channels, whose providers have little if any broadcast experience.

You should aim to adopt solutions that enable you to do complete channel delivery in the cloud, including delivery to your distribution partners and to consumers. You want to be able to deliver linear channels to any target endpoint from anywhere in the world with minimal infrastructure and all the flexibility that the cloud offers.

Key criteria for a cloud channel origination system:

  • Runs in the public and private cloud — ideally a cloud-native software solution rather than bare metal, virtual machine or a solution that is co-located in a public cloud data center
  • Offers playout of clips, graphics, captions and audio with effects and DVE
  • Supports live inputs mixed with file-based playout
  • Encodes outputs to CBR, VBR, and ABR for distribution to any target end-user
  • Can access additional delivery features, including statmux, encryption, in-band triggers, manifest manipulation, and origin services
  • Supports redundancy in different zones and regions
  • Orchestrates resources and workflows through a single user interface accessible via a web browser
  • Enables all of the above to take place in a single cloud
  • Through an API, allows you to integrate business systems you do not plan to replace such as MAM, traffic, CMS and other services

Additionally, it’s never a bad idea to look for channel origination and distribution solutions that are portable. Portable solutions can run on a public cloud from more than one provider as well as on-premises equipment from different vendors. These solutions give you a greater choice for deployment. You have the freedom to operate your channels how you see fit. And you have the power to take advantage of the elasticity offered by public cloud for occasional use channels, even if you also have fixed channels running on-premises.

Summing it up

Channel origination systems in the cloud are built for the cloud, from the ground up. They unify orchestration of the delivery system all the way to consumers and distributors. They are a great way for you to launch new channels, experiment with cloud technology at low risk and let you offer a wider range of services to a larger potential audience in any region of the world you want to target.

Are you looking for more information on how to deliver linear channels to any target endpoint from anywhere in the world with minimal infrastructure and all the flexibility that the cloud offers? Contact Harmonic and we can discuss your 2020 plans to create your winning channel origination playbook.

About Andy Warman

Andy Warman is the Director of playout solutions at Harmonic. He provides business development and strategic direction for Harmonic’s line of playout enabled solutions for cloud and appliances including Spectrum media server, the Polaris automation suite, MediaGrid shared storage solutions and VOS cloud-native media processing. Warman also serves on the board of directors ofthe Alliance for the IP Media Solutions (AIMS) and chairs the trade association’s Marketing Working Group. Warman joined Harmonic after 11 years at Harris Broadcast in product management, where he drove Harris’ channel-in-a-box strategy, server platform and storage consolidation initiatives. With deep domain experience in the production and playout arena, he also has experience in automation, news production, content creation and infrastructure common to broadcast workflows. Andy holds a degree in Electronics and Management Science from the University of Kent at Canterbury.