Charlie Vogt, CEO of Imagine Communications: “In the past few years, the conversation around transitioning from SDI to a hybrid or pure IP environment has shifted from ‘should I’ to ‘at what pace and what does my path look like.’ The data-agnostic nature of IT-based infrastructures has emerged as a must-have attribute for media companies that can no longer afford the wholesale replacement of purpose-built equipment with each incremental change in technology or video quality enhancement.”
IP Infrastructure Will Be Ready When You Are
The IP revolution is underway and media companies around the world are deploying IP across their operations at record numbers. In fact, 40% of media professionals surveyed in the Focus Forward: 2016 Technology Trends Report said that they have converted more than 25% of former SDI-based operations to IP environments.
In the past few years, the conversation around transitioning from SDI to a hybrid or pure IP environment has shifted from ‘should I’ to ‘at what pace and what does my path look like.’
Not only does IP provide the opportunity to unify workflows across production, playout and distribution operations, it also supports built-in redundancy, delivers cost efficiencies in both CAPEX and OPEX, and significantly expands the versatility of your network.
For many, moving to IP is also a logical prerequisite for upgrading workflows to deliver UHD and higher resolutions. And the futureproof nature of IP ensures the flexibility required to adapt to new standards, new workflows and enable multipurpose usage of the same infrastructure.
The success of IP in other industries, like telecom and IT, has largely been due to its open nature. When networks are built on common, ubiquitous and globally available platforms, innovation is accelerated, commerce flourishes and companies thrive. In fact, this is the same reason that SDI was so successful over the course of the past three decades.
Under an SDI framework, media companies had confidence that products from virtually all vendors would interoperate — driving a vibrant marketplace and providing the necessary assurances that investments would remain viable for decades to come.
In the transition to IP, a drive toward developing a common set of standards is imperative. Fragmentation fueled by a number of proprietary proposals creates confusion in the marketplace and deters investment. Companies require assurances their past, present and future IP investments will not be squandered and that widespread interoperability will exist throughout the industry.
Thankfully, over the past few years influential industry associations such as SMPTE and the Video Service Forum (VSF) have been defining technical standards and recommendations for moving, managing and manipulating media signals in an IP-based realm.
And new organizations like AIMS, the Alliance for IP Media Solutions, which currently has more than 45 members, is promoting collaboration across vendors, end users and partners to support the adoption of open, ubiquitous standards for IP interoperability. This standards-based approach ensures ongoing innovation, deployment flexibility and a competitive marketplace.
As media companies move forward, they will require a managed transition at the pace that suits their operational needs, particularly where they remain tied to existing investments and processes. For many companies, this transition demands a seamless evolution where media companies implement a hybrid infrastructure.
In fact, most broadcast networks are already hybrid, integrating IP and baseband signals in various forms today, such as using IP signals in contribution or distribution, as well as in file-based workflows. The next phase of the transition is focused on live production environments, which require nanosecond timing and ironclad reliability.
In addition to delivering inventive and consensus-building standards for transporting video and audio over IP-based infrastructure, broadcast industry organizations are bringing desired behavior characteristics to Internet-based networks, such as low latency and precision timing.
The data-agnostic nature of IT-based infrastructures has emerged as a must-have attribute for media companies that can no longer afford the wholesale replacement of purpose-built equipment with each incremental change in technology or video quality enhancement.
The good news for media companies is that no matter when they decide it makes sense to transition operations — today, tomorrow or a few years in the future — standards-compliant, IP-based video production facilities are now ready for primetime.