In my previous post, I noted the hastening of the ‘content cadence’, in terms of the volume and speed at which new TV shows and films are vying for our individual and collective attention. And when a faster pace is one of the goals, it’s vital to streamline content production.
One aspect of production, important to moving digitized content, is the networking. SDI cabling technology worked well for the last 50 years — but it can’t deliver the goods anymore, especially when video resolution formats are going up to 4K/UltraHD and 8K, making what needs to be moved ever bigger. More than that, the poor utilization of SDI resources means one thing – wasteful and expensive production processes. After all, SDI is static by its nature and this means that most of the time resources are idle. There’s also the matters of both flexibility and long setup times.
The solution for the media and entertainment industry is to transform to reliable, automated and secured IP transit. The benefits that are coming with this transformation are enormous. Suddenly, doing 4K live broadcast is easy. Once the infrastructure is very agile, it can operate at a much faster rate. Sessions and shows can be stood up and torn down quickly, as can connections to remote sites and resource allocations.
After all, a lot of transformation is already happening between SDI and IP, given that IP is already in use elsewhere in the media supply chain – so, moving to full IP distribution means that content providers now have only one network to operate. It’s a transition that carries beneficial OPEX and CAPEX implications.
Live sporting events serve as a useful example of how the shift to IP benefits content production. Consider: Instead of sending an entire production crew to the venue, you send just a camera crew. The camera outputs feed to a centralized production room, located elsewhere.
As Cisco, a worldwide leader in IP, we call this the ‘IP fabric for media’. It’s a holistic and automated approach that blends hardware and software for day-one operations, from provisioning to configuration to backup and restore, and more.
Reliability is also a must — you simply can’t lose data along the way. SDI was reliable, and any successor technology must adhere to its ‘no bits lost’ intentions. The Cisco IP Fabric for media brings the reliability standards to new levels, with a unique, non-blocking multicast fabric that assures the high standard of delivery that the media and entertainment industry is accustomed to receiving.
Another key inclusion is security – like any technological transformation, moving to IP has it risks. Remotely-reachable infrastructure, for instance, is innately more vulnerable. Cisco implemented many security measures to ensure that only authorized users get packet access. We are also, to my knowledge, the only provider that can provide deep visibility into security threats, even with encrypted data.
As important as all the product-related features of the IP Media Fabric is our partner community – given that our solution is fully integrated with the major ecosystem partners in the media and entertainment industry. It’s all about giving our customers a full solution – putting Cisco equipment and partner equipment together, testing it end-to-end, validate it, qualifying it, and creating design guides for it.
By preserving the operational experience, we can allay many if not all of the concerns that can become barriers to quick adoption by broadcast engineers. With an IP fabric, most day-to-day operations will be the same; we also offer IP courses for SDI engineers, to equip them with what they need to move forward in the IP media landscape. Here’s how to learn more about the IP Fabric for Media.