The telecom and broadcast and media industries are closer than ever, with video on smartphones, IPTV services, live event streaming and the fact that high-quality digital content and entertainment increasingly need to be reliably transported over IP networks on a global basis.
Both industries suffer from severe Internet competition that has shaken business models to the core. TV broadcasters are dealing with lower advertising revenues, so called "cord-cutters" who are not buying traditional cable TV packages and the ongoing trend toward on-demand and multi-platform content.
As a result, the industry is going through significant IT and technology changes. Just as telecom is moving toward virtualized data centers, software-defined networks and more open software apps, platforms and ecosystems, the broadcast and media services industry -- from producers to broadcasters and distributors of content -- are transforming core IT processes and moving to cloud services and IP networks. While media companies are moving at different paces, these are big changes for a traditionally closed industry dependent on proprietary technology, content and networks.
The transition to IP networks is not just happening at the content delivery and transport level; media companies are fundamentally changing their entire "proprietary" IT architecture, and are more open to cloud services. The move to IP from proprietary technologies such as SDI/AES is a journey, but the transition is moving faster than any prior technology shift in the history of the industry. There is a growing consensus that IP delivers agility and flexibility, for example to launch new channels, and can support new formats such as OTT, HDR, UHDTV, etc.
Cloud services and virtualization are closely linked with the transition to IP and making operational processes more efficient by moving to a software-driven architecture and production environment. Fully virtualized video processing architecture is very new but starting to gain traction. Part of the appeal is that virtualized and cloud-based environments can offer better security and availability than existing SDI environments. A cloud-based disaster recovery approach could enable a rapid transition from primary playout to a virtualized backup system, which could be located in a data center anywhere in the world. Also, paying for cloud services (e.g., backup operations) only when needed is more cost-effective. Another key driver is the dramatic reduction in time and expense of launching new channels in a software-only environment, compared to relying on purpose-built hardware.
A digital media ecosystem becomes a bigger opportunity with the transition to IP delivery and virtualized infrastructure as well as the move to all digital production and delivery of content. Some companies are looking at transforming the complete workflow in terms of the media chain, i.e., how content is acquired, reformatted, stored, managed and redistributed, using cloud services and a virtualized infrastructure.
Maybe the silver lining is that digital competition makes traditional industries better -- or at a minimum, forces technology and business process changes to cope with inevitable business model changes. As content goes digital, multi-screen and is delivered to users over global IP networks, moving media and broadcast IT to the cloud and using virtualized infrastructure seems to make "radically" good sense.
This blog is sponsored by Huawei. For more information, please visit Huawei Connect 2016.
— Sandra O'Boyle, Senior Analyst, Heavy Reading