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Building a new, all IP broadcast facility? – Read this. – Part 2

Last week, I posted an article about my experiences of deploying LiveIP in the real world. It met with much interest. Evidently, LiveIP is one of the big technology themes of 2018.

A comment by Edward L’Ecuyer on that post raised sentiments I think many share:

“This article seems to show the first solid island to pop the surface of the ever fluid and shifting IP sea, but what I got out of it is that a solid standard that all can work with, under and around are still to be formed, but we have been here before since way back in PAL/NTSC creations. Also, until the day that we all become digital at birth it will always be analogue in/analogue out. ~_^”

The transition to SDI wasn’t smooth either.

Undoubtedly, industry standards around LiveIP are still maturing and will make deploying LiveIP easier. Many great minds are working towards improving this situation daily and no, 2110 isn’t the year this technology will mature.

However, should standards movement deter you from building with LiveIP? and are standards all there is to deploying LiveIP when it is based on an ever fluid and shifting IP sea?

What are the implications of the move to LiveIP?

In moving to LiveIP, we disintegrate the SDI router. Some router features are pushed to the endpoints, COTS network products are made responsible for data transmission/routing between endpoints and a control/orchestration layer is required to steer the flows.

Implications include:

  1. Endpoints must function in a broadly consistent way and must not place unreasonable constraints on the network design/configuration.

  2. Signal timing data now propagates through your routing fabric.

  3. You are now responsible for the physical and logical design of the routing fabric.

New Responsibilities

Where once you might have bought a few SDI routers and tacked them together with some tie lines, now you need to architect a network capable of moving your AV, ancillary, timing and control flows around and deploy control systems which orchestrates those flows. That’s a bigger challenge.

Where LiveIP enables great architectural freedom, this freedom brings with it new responsibilities.

Network hardware evolution is fast and networks can be designed in many ways. LiveIP standards won’t help here, experience will. LiveIP is creating new specialisms in network and facility design. It’s also creating new opportunities in areas such as remote production. The design patterns are still evolving, and the shape of your system will depend both on your requirements and the point in time you choose to build it.

Designing for Open Architecture

Broadcasters should be free to choose from best of breed components without restrictions when designing and modifying systems.

Standards are valuable for integration but don’t necessarily deliver open architecture.

Within a given horizon, we should always architect to absorb standards movement and technology evolution. Open architecture should be a target and priority. Keep in mind that the architecture <> standards relationship is variable i.e. some standards will be prerequisites for open architecture, others will not. If you’re careful with your architectural model, you can accept some standards movement and plan for upgrades.

Look out for products which offer good standards support but are architecturally restrictive. The last thing you want is multiple routing islands on your network or to be passing flows through translation gateways for instance.

In Summary

Should standards movement deter you from building with LiveIP?

This depends on your requirements, project milestones and how happy you are working with this maturing technology. You may need to help your suppliers with bedding in new product features. There are some really excellent products and workflow opportunities today, but they won’t be for all.

Are standards all there is to deploying LiveIP when it is based on an ever fluid and shifting IP sea?

No. We’re going to have to re-skill and get used to crafting LiveIP capable networks.

Is 2110 the year this technology will mature?

No, but I expect by 2022-(let’s say June), time will prove LiveIP to be an enabler for a raft of fascinating innovations.

Part 1 of this article can be found here: Building a New All IP Broadcast Facility – Read This

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The opinions expressed in this blog are my own.
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