Systems Integration - Strength in depth

  • With Adrian Pennington

Systems Integration - Strength in depth

Moving to cloud, the evolution of signal networking standards and the broadcast quality demanded in the enterprise are keeping systems integrators in high demand - by Adrian Pennington...

Philipp Glänzel
General Manager & CTO, Qvest (Dubai)

We saw high demand in 2022 for customers requesting cloud solutions and believe that this trend will continue in force in 2023. With this demand also come challenges for both customers and system integrators, since many cloud offerings are SaaS based and follow a subscription model. This has implications for integrations with foreign infrastructures that have different security policies, as well as the need to change integration interfaces in an agile and fast-moving environment. At the same time, new offerings and services will become available frequently and subscriptions can be cancelled easily. 

Integrating with changing environments in a flexible, secure, and cost-effective way will become an essential requirement for our customers in the near future. A strong technology stack will be the key differentiator. Crucial factors will be supporting these requirements with the capability of establishing reliable hybrid integrations in both on-prem and multi-cloud environments within successfully established tech ecosystems. We are sure that those environments will have the ability to flexibly adapt - compared to others that remain monolithic and slow to adapt to new operational requirements. 

Qvest has heavily invested in the past years to increase and empower its experienced team of experts. We are proficient in consulting, designing, implementing, and maintaining modern technology stacks for customers. Thanks to this experience and expertise, the Qvest team has delivered several projects of different scale around the globe. In combination with qibb, the integration platform for professional media workflows and automations, we believe we are a strong partner and enabler for customers to master the challenges ahead.

Fintan Mc Kiernan
CEO - South East Asia, Ideal Systems

A quick disclaimer: I’m not paid, sponsored or in any way supported by VizRT.  But I am going to talk about NDI. Many people see NDI as a proprietary standard owned by VizRT. It is, but that shouldn’t stop anybody using it.  

There has been a lot written about the move from traditional SDI to IP using the SMPTE 2110 standard and much less written about the move to IP using the NDI standard. Part of the reason is the concentration of broadcast equipment manufacturers in the US, Canada and Europe. Obviously, they focus on their local markets first, before APAC. This is where themes, trends and challenges from the broadcast equipment business point of view diverge. 

Take the live sports production market. In Europe, you have the massively funded soccer leagues in the UK, Germany and Italy, and in the US you have America Football, Basketball and Ice Hockey all leagues with huge cash inflows, and fan followings. This has a trickledown effect into TV sports productions and ultimately their equipment budgets for OB trucks, stadium cameras and live sport production systems.  

These rich well-funded sports markets are well catered for by broadcast kit manufacturers. However, where the wheels come off is in APAC. Specifically, I refer to the South East Asian market, where sports franchises are typically dramatically under funded with smaller fan bases and lower revenue streams and yet still desire to produce high quality live sports content.   

This is where new broadcast technology can help a lot. Simply by moving from either SDI or SMPTE 2010-based sports production systems to NDI and SRT the cost savings awe have experienced are in excess of fifty percent. In some cases the savings are significantly more.  

This is great news for Asian sports franchises. Leveraging these new technologies, they can achieve high quality live sports production at a fraction of the cost of what is currently being paid in Europe and America.

There are still technical barriers, for example, there are no camera manufacturers making native NDI ENG or studio cameras, but using NDI converters is a good enough workaround for now, especially as the quality of production grade native NDI PTZ cameras has emerged as a great force for live sports and events.  

In 2023 the continued acceleration of new technologies such as NDI and SRT across APAC will help broadcasters do more for less, which is an ideal message from a systems integrator! 

Mike Bryan
Technology Director, dB Broadcast

One of the main themes we see in 2023 is the continuing evolution of IP standards, how both clients and vendors evaluate and interpret these to fit their own purposes, and the inevitable challenges this brings.   While the industry has come a long way over the last five years, the complexity of the standards that have developed and how they fit clients’ organisational and workflow aspirations/capabilities are still not fully-aligned. The resource availability gap (gulf?) that’s being created by the lack of people joining our industry, plus competition with the wider IT sector, is an ongoing area of concern that collectively needs to be addressed to ensure we all have the best opportunities to deliver and support the technology infrastructures needed.  

The overall cost of ownership, in particular ongoing running costs, is now at the forefront of business cases, coupled with growing awareness and expectations around sustainability.

Designing and implementing good technology solutions that are sustainable and cost-effective to run is becoming ever more critical. 

At dB Broadcast we continue the evolution of our design and implementation tools to be more efficient and consistent with the configuration of IP systems, thus enabling our workforce and ultimately our clients to achieve more with the resources available. But also to provide detailed analysis of power, heat and ongoing revenue elements and making this intrinsically part of the design process to ensure clients receive the best overall cost of ownership for the systems we are delivering.  

Supply chains remain in a state of flux and whilst many vendors are predicting that through 2023 things will improve, we are not out of the woods yet. Unfortunately, we suspect there are still likely to be casualties of the global supply issues we are facing, so being mindful of the overall health of vendors and hardware delivery times is critical to the timely completion of projects.

Rob Adams
Worldwide Sales Director, TSL

We will see an ongoing focus on sustainability, for example with auditing and management needed to save power consumption. This can result in increased uptime, decreased costs and improved capital investment cycles. Productivity concerns will remain. This might be partly addressed by the implementation of centralised resources that enable remote production and/or home working by a distributed workforce.

We expect to see an increasing demand for bridging technologies that enable hybrid workflows to interface new IP solutions to augment existing baseband infrastructure. Linked to that is the accelerating trend of audiences migrating to consume content that is streamed to all demographics. Increasingly that content will be provided and monetised by the content creators and decreasingly so by broadcasters and rights holders.

Finally, as has been the case in the past two recessions it’s likely advertising spend will decrease. As this recession bites the market will seek out more affordable solutions. This will be at odds to supply chain pressures that will continue to bring uncertainty to product availabilty and purchase price volatility. Those things will drive vendors to focus their technology innovation. At the same time, some broadcasters will simply opt to maintain existing assets.

TSL‘s user interfaces across audio, control and power centre around a highly intuitive user experience (UX) and allow configuration and control from remote positions. We have also already successfully deployed many of our control solutions in the cloud.

Our new, award-winning control solution X-Connect interfaces existing SDI infrastructure with ST-2110/2022 IP workflows. Our affordable and proven control solutions enable dynamic content insertion typically via SCTE for both traditional broadcast and streamed content and 2023 also sees the  launch of our new intelligent networked power distribution unit and our new MPA1-MIX-NET-V-1 AoIP audio monitor which comes complete with a comprehensive webpage and SNMP support, allowing remote configuration and control. 

John Roche
Managing Director, Creative Technology (Ireland)

We are in the middle of an exciting period of broadcast innovation which is developing from within the corporate market. To meet their evolving needs, corporations are creating a whole new world of broadcast infrastructure, which sees the convergence of traditional broadcast technologies and IT. Companies like LinkedIn, Accenture, Ernst & Young, PWC and Microsoft are dedicating a lot of resources to creating the infrastructure and utilising centralised production to send content to their facilities around the world. In many ways, corporations are rewriting the broadcast rulebook: traditional broadcast racks are sitting side-by-side with IT racks, and signal flows and cable runs are being re-defined. 

The standard for high-end broadcast content in the corporate market is astounding.  With this evolution, the required skillset is also changing. Professional grade equipment is being used, and there’s more involvement than ever from IT departments. To support these needs, broadcast engineers from Creative Technology’s Systems Integration division are training corporate IT and AV engineers, accelerating this process.

We’re finding the skillsets we have within NEP Group, which includes CT’s Systems Integration division and NEP’s Integrated Solutions, are more valuable than ever.  

Economically, it makes a lot of sense for corporations to have the resources and expertise to produce their own broadcast quality content. This not only has potential cost savings on external studio fees, but allows for more flexibility in scheduling and the convenience of being able to make last minute changes. 

Backed by NEP Group’s global resources, CT’s Systems Integration division is in an advantageous position to support these new world corporate broadcast needs. One example of this is the ability to utilise NEP’s global buying power, which can help mitigate many of the supply chain issues seen today. Combining global resources with industry-leading engineering experience and expertise delivers the solutions to make it happen for our clients, anywhere, anytime and in any way they need to work.

Christoffer Kay
COO, Dan Technologies 

A lot of operational and technical innovation took place across the media market during the coronavirus lockdown.

We are seeing a strong resurgence of investment in every category from broadcast right through to the educational, corporate, live-events and multimedia sectors. Customers are increasingly asking us to help build scalable businesses with the flexibility and agility to meet evolving viewing behaviour.  

An associated need they are seeking is the ability to spin channels up and down quickly to support specific events. Project planning conversations have also moved in the direction of reduced footprint, less hardware and more software-defined infrastructure. IT/IP solutions are in growing demand for their ability to support any style and size of workflow.  

The NDI protocol makes IP live production more cost-effective and versatile than ever. Virtual studio technology has also become increasingly compact and flexible, combining latest-generation studio robotics and graphic rendering systems. The transition from HD to UHD continues with HDR progressing from aspirational to routine. 

Among recent projects that have helped our customers overcome some of these hurdles is the upgrade of Studio 5 at Al Jazeera's Doha headquarters. The timeline was tight but we had worked with AJ in the past so knew that we could meet the challenge. The project embraced the complete rebuild of the AJ Arabic channel main studio with a fully redundant SDI/IP hybrid system as the first step in a migration to full SMPTE 2110. 

Datos Media, another Danmon Group company, recently completed a cloud software platform allowing Xarxa Audiovisual Local to share content between local televisions in Catalunya.  Datos Media led the project, designing the platform and managing the development of the solution. Fully deployed in Azure, the platform has been programmed from first principles by local software company Ebantic, integrating with market solutions such as File Catalyst transfer acceleration software and Hiscale transcoding. 

BeckTV Integrates New Broadcast Facility for KWTV

When KWTV in Oklahoma City decided to move from its existing broadcast facility to a new one in the Century Center building located in the heart of downtown, the station turned to its broadcast systems integration partner of over 30 years, BeckTV, to assist. 

KWTV selected new broadcast systems including Evertz routing with an integrated enterprise multiviewer and TDM audio router; Evertz master control switcher and airpath; Clear-Com intercom, G&D KVM, Avid video production servers, Ross camera robotics, Sony production switcher and ELC automation systems; a Calrec Audio console; Imagine Communications master control playout and automation systems; and custom BeckTV consoles. 

Going live from a new facility while an existing one is on the air is complicated and involves hours of strategic planning, coordination, installation, testing, training, and show rehearsals. To ensure a smooth transition, BeckTV maintained a crew of two engineers and six technicians on site to install, commission, and support all new and repurposed systems.  

"Ongoing, productive, focused communications are key to executing a successful project, especially on such a massive scale,” said Brendan Cline, Director of Engineering for BeckTV. “With this project at KWTV, we continue our track record of being one of the best broadcast integrators in the country and executing successfully on launching greenfield television broadcast facility projects.”