by Brian Cabeceiras, Chief Strategy Officer, Harris Broadcast
The next big thing is here. No, it’s not 4K or HEVC or even ATSC 3.0. It’s software-defined networking — or SDN —and it will hit the broadcast facility sooner than you think.
For those unfamiliar with the term, here’s a very basic definition: SDN is an approach to computer networking that separates the control plane (which determines where traffic is sent) from the data plane (which forwards traffic based on what the control plane tells it to do). In the Telco industry, SDN has already had considerable impact, enabling more flexible networks, reduced costs and accelerated delivery of services.
At Harris Broadcast, we’re bringing our ground-up understanding of audio and video workflows to add media services into the SDN equation. Our MultiService SDN™ approach involves merging baseband video and audio signals, compressed files and IP streams all under a highly integrated, flexible command and control software layer that can be adapted by the customer to fulfill their unique workflows. Essentially, it’s a software-defined network — optimized for media applications.
More specifically, our MultiService SDN decouples control and management services from the underlying transport layer, allowing media operations to manage video and audio as baseband signals via SDI and AES interconnects, while simultaneously managing video and audio as IP streams. More simply, it offers content providers a seamless way to create, optimize, play and deliver media content regardless of the network topology.
The benefits are tangible. For starters, MultiService SDN provides support for numerous, strongly integrated services — from media ad sales to playout — and can be configured to support almost any workflow. It enables media operations to migrate their network infrastructure from baseband to IP, or migrate services running on local hardware to virtualized services hosted in the cloud — with no effect on operational workflow. And it provides a simple, consistent user interface regardless of the processing, conversion or network transport methods required.
Imagine the possibilities. A network that maintains all its assets in a single NOC is much more vulnerable if a storm comes through the region and knocks it out; MultiService SDN enables that network to mitigate risk by spreading operations among multiple centers across the country. Content providers that deliver programming all over the world can now implement an elastic, virtualized system. Sports leagues that have instant replay at every venue for use eight times a year can now virtualize these systems and use the computing power, storage and bandwidth for other high-value applications between games.
With the drive within broadcast and media operations to leverage advances in IT technology and its inherent efficiency advantages, MultiService SDN optimized for media applications is an exciting — and very real — next step in our industry’s transition.