When it comes to IP, it's informative to know how your peers are taking advantage of the technology. But the real questions is "why should I care?" Let's find out...
Q: Why the slow adoption of IP?
Adoption of IP is actually moving well along a typical innovation adoption curve. Grass Valley has been instrumental in guiding many of the "innovators," and "early adopters" in deploying IP-enabled systems that are on-air today, but it is still early in the curve. We haven't "crossed the chasm" that Geoffrey Moore identified even though many customers are contemplating the brink. With change occurring on many fronts in our industry, there is a lot to consider. Many are adopting a new technology while simultaneously changing content types and distribution methods as adopters figure out how to monetize their new workflow. And although the user interface remains similar for content creators, commercial-off-the-shelf (COTS) switches behind the scenes require a completely new model of operationnot just changing SDI for IP signals. This means a new set of experts in evaluating technology is required. Everyone wants the ability to create and connect content in new ways. For many, the planning stages are over. Now they are beginning to execute.
Q: What is the part of the story everyone is missing with IP?
I cannot overstate the importance of the introduction of industry standards, led by AIMS. Common standards have been critical not just to provide our customers confidence in IP-based solutions, but also in creating interoperability between manufacturers. Everyone wants an IP-based ecosystem and even with Grass Valley's unmatched breadth of product line, customers still can't get everything they need from a single vendor. This is where customers should ask some pointed questions, because what's inside the IP jack may not match from vendor to vendor. The SMPTE ST 2110 suite is published, but there are still lots of options even within 2110. Each 2110 stream has a set of metadata, a Session Description Protocol (SDP) that describes what's in the packet. This information tells the receiver how to interpret what's inside and then senders expose an SDP for every stream they make. Then the control system conveys the SDP information to the receiver.
To prove interoperability, the Joint Task for New Media (JTNM), in cooperation with SMPTE and AIMS, are working to drive interoperability tests. While this work progresses, customers should verify what SMPTE ST 2110 traffic profiles are available in the equipment they are consideringyou need to get the right profile for the right application.
Based on a given workflow, the system can be optimized for cost and performance. SMPTE ST 2110 traffic profiles fall into two categories:
- Narrow transmitter profile (2110-21)
- Less timing delay and jitter
- Application is live production
- Exact phase alignment and low latency, as might be required for live production, will typically benefit from the Narrow profile.
- Provides the lowest latency, the least addition of packet jitter and the highest assurance of data delivery.
- Wide transmitter profile (2110-21)
- More jitter and delay that is managed with a buffer. Delay is less important in this application.
- Application is news and playout
- Deeper buffers are often used by general purpose computers to support VM and micro-service implementations.
- Supports the larger buffers used by generic computers supporting software devices.
Audio profiles are also a key element, both in terms of how many channels per stream, etc., as well as timing requirements. SMPTE ST 2110-30 has tight tolerance on timing to ensure lip sync.
Q: How does this affect the adoption of IP?
At the moment, most of the industry is still learning about requirements like this. That's one of the reasons Grass Valley is working so diligently to provide our customers with correct information. Making mistakes on issues like this when bringing together equipment in the proof of concept phase adds to confusion and lack of confidence in new technology.
Q: Seems like only large broadcasters are investing in IP is there an opportunity for smaller broadcasters?
Absolutely. It can be a real competitive advantage for smaller broadcasters to take advantage of the agility offered by IP-enabled applications such as remote production, distributed production and real-time publishing to multiple platforms including web, social media and OTT.
Q: How do broadcasters keep up with the changing standards?
We need a mind-shift. Many of the advantages from IP are due to operating in a COTS environment. As the environment continually changes, we need to accept that there will be regular updates and build a consistent update strategy. It's a good idea to include as part of that strategy aligning with industry organizations, and building clear transition paths (gateways, FPGA or VM, Cloud Native) to newer technology.
Q: Where is the industry with remote IP productions?
Grass Valley is taking a leadership role in locating cameras at an event while keeping the rest of the equipment in a centralized production facility. When IP productions are mentioned, most think only about an IP studio infrastructure, but those IP infrastructures can be used for the next-generation of live at-home remote productions as well. With the availability of today's larger bandwidth IP networks, it's becoming easier to produce live programming efficiently with multiple cameras across those networks. Most system cameras use bidirectional fiber transmission to interconnect the camera head and the camera base stations.
Some of the latest production cameras use a transmission protocol based on standard 10 GbE technologies and can be connected directly to COTS switches on an IP network, transporting the full protocol of each camera through an IP network to the camera base stations connected to another COTS switch on the same IP network.
Q: What are the areas of growth in IP?
For many, the conversation is still focused around the "how to" transition from SDI to IP. The real benefits for most customers have yet to be realized in terms of agility. If broadcast is to survive in an environment where multiformat and microchannel content is becoming a significant market presence, we have to get our infrastructure to a level where it is simple to experiment with content types, as well as production and distribution methods. This is why Grass Valley is working hard to transition customers from a basic IP gateway to fog or cloud-based microservices.
Q: What is virtualization, and how do you see it taking off?
The driving factor behind any attempt at virtualization is to make system changes less expensive. Grass Valley has three different agile platforms that the industry lumps together as virtualization:
- Software Defined FPGA computing (Densité XIP-3901)
- VMware on CPU/GPU servers (GV STRATUS 6.0)
- Microservices in "Fog" or "Cloud" architectures (iTX FLEX)
FPGA or GPU (depending on features required) may still be the best solution today for many applications. FPGA or GPU-based solutions are typically still used in live production; microservices are recommended for content delivery applications. The expectation is that in three to five years, the majority of all applications will be accomplished using microservices.