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38 TVBEurope Broadcasting in the Cloud

Virtual service for the


Using virtual servers and services on the internet or a private network offers a lot of potential for broadcasters to save money, reach production companies and/or reach new viewers. David Fox reports from the recent IP&TV Forum in London

THERE ARE two main aspects of the Cloud that excite broadcasters: the ease with which new services can be rolled out for viewers; and the possibility of saving money and set-up costs by using virtual infrastructure rather than having to buy the hardware and install it — whether for production purposes or delivery to viewers. Internet TV and over-the-top services are probably the most obvious attraction for existing broadcasters, because they already have production infrastructure, but adding additional web and connected TV applications requires new investment. For this, the Cloud “is the

next stage of the Content Delivery Network — like a CDN on steroids with a lot of other functionality,” according to Jai Maroo, director, Shemaroo Entertainment. “It’s definitely the way forward,” added Tim

Hadley, director of Communications, Omnifone. “Television is somewhat

lagging behind other aspects of technology,” said Tim Sheppard, head of Video Strategy, EMEA, Cisco, whose children don’t understand why they can’t watch any programme at any time. “As a delivery mechanism, the Cloud is great,” Maroo told a session at the recent IP&TV World Forum, but there are limits to what you can do on it now, especially outside of areas with fast connections where connectivity is poor but consumer expectation of a service is the same. This is particularly difficult with mobile devices, where connectivity changes constantly as people move between networks. To get around this services can push popular content in the background, storing it on the device, as getting permission to view it is a tiny transaction.

In store Maroo feels that the Cloud isn’t good at realtime transcoding. “It is better to deploy in different formats, [three] bitrates and [three] screen sizes, where you do some transcoding on the fly but can also just switch between formats,” although

some services encode to many more formats. “You can also do adaptive

bitrates, working on a mezzanine format, so you can encode it less times and rewrap, to save storage space and bandwidth,” said Sheppard. Cisco does realtime encoding

for live feeds, for hundreds of channels, but this costs much more because of the processing power needed, so offline encoding is a lot less expensive, said Dr Ken Morse, CTO of Cisco’s Service Provider Video Technology Group. However, delivery to mobiles, where bandwidth changes a lot, requires realtime transcoding. If the

popularity of a specific clip is high, it caches those transcoded copies, pushing them as close to the requesting devices as possible on its CDN, to reduce the core bandwidth needed. Cisco’s Media Suite content

NTT is launching CineCloud

offering “realtime content sharing for online

production” Hidefumi Ito

to be the content provider, or work

management system, which can operate as a managed service in the Cloud, allows broadcasters

with a service provider, to put all content into a unified management system and central repository, and make that automatically available in

the highest quality for the target devices. It also has a Transcode

“We can engineer it for the worst case situation, but can do it at a fraction of the cost because we have the virtualisation capability and CDN”

Manager, which converts the content into adaptive bitrate media, applying the correct DRM, etc, for the device and platform. It could take 400 or more different copies of a show to cover all possible devices and variables like screen size, DRM and bitrate. Even if you only encode for the three most popular encapsulation formats (Apple, Adobe and Microsoft), you would need about 120 copies, so anything that reduces the amount of storage needed “is a big deal in terms of cost.” MPEG Dash hopes to standardise the encapsulation, which would reduce the number of copies further. There are also multiple DRM

Dr Ken Morse, Cisco

vendors. “That’s not going to necessarily change, but we can do tricks that allow you to apply the DRM at playout May 2012

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