By Mike O'Connell | Pixel Power | Published 8th July 2020
As an industry we have talked about disaster recovery for a while. We know about business continuity, about how our audiences – not to mention our revenues – will disappear so fast if we drop off the air.
The problem is, most of us have been talking about the wrong sort of disaster. Received wisdom has been that, if our building catches fire or there is a gas leak up the street, we need to be able to relocate (our staff) to somewhere a distance away, where we have a duplicate set of equipment to keep us on air.
Well, now the disaster has come. And it is nothing like the disaster we prepared for.
Our buildings and our technical installations are all there in the different location. But, thanks to COVID-19, we can’t get our people there! As those who rely on traditional broadcast hardware technology for playout have found, it really cannot operate hands-off. It relies upon people.
At Pixel Power we have been talking about and deploying the solution to this for several years. It is virtualizable, software defined playout. You build exactly the production or playout automation workflows you need, from elemental, modular components. These software modules sit on standard IT hardware (Commercial and Off The Shelf, COTS), and are slickly managed to deliver precisely to your requirements.
Why is this so important? Because it leads to near-perfect protection from the unexpected, like COVID-19 – when you need to flip your operators to work remotely, from home.
A virtualized architecture can run on dedicated hardware in your broadcast machine room. Or it can take the processor and storage requirements it requires while residing in your corporate data centre. Or it can live entirely in the public cloud. Or it can exist across any combination of these scenarios.
Playout in the cloud means you never have to attend to the hardware. You can control every aspect of your output – even live interventions on premium channels – from a laptop, wherever you have an internet connection.
A lot of people are now talking about virtualized playout from the public cloud. Indeed, it’s great to welcome some of our industry rivals to the club. At NAB 2016 Pixel Power demonstrated premium channel playout, including live interventions, with sophisticated graphics & branding, hosted entirely in the AWS cloud. We did it in 2017, 2018 and 2019, too, and would have made it five in a row if NAB2020 had happened. But regardless of big tradeshows happening, the beauty is that we can demonstrate this to you right here, right now – because it’s ready in the AWS cloud.
Other vendors still view this as science fair stuff. We have this nailed. It is proven and it is delivered.
And it gives you flexibility. For those broadcasters who want to retain the traditional infrastructures, your primary playout can be in your building, with disaster recovery in the cloud. Or you can make the jump and put everything in the cloud, relying on AWS or whichever vendor you choose to sort out the geo-diverse protections for non-stop service.
No-one predicted the extraordinary impact COVID-19 has made on all of our lives. Who knows what’s next. It is your responsibility to put the best possible business continuity plans in place. We can help you make that happen.