Cloud Computing, Hybrid Systems And KVM

There are a manifold number of tasks that can be transferred into the cloud for almost any process in today’s broadcast workflow. Typically, it will result in a mix of physical servers and virtual machines: a reasonable proportion of computers will remain on-site whilst another part becomes more flexible via virtualization and cloud computing (maybe to facilitate production peaks etc.) We learn from Guntermann & Drunck how KVM as a major facilitating technology in IT infrastructure is picking-up on this trend and helping to support such hybrid installations.

Instead of investing in owned equipment, broadcasters can rent computers as virtualized machines from public cloud providers (AWSGoogle CloudMicrosoft Azure and so on) as part of the transition from CAPEX to OPEX finance models.

KVM provides a unique user interface: beyond providing access to physical computers it now also allows to access virtual machines: the user just chooses a machine from a select menu, no matter whether it’s an on-site or a cloud computer.

Perfect interaction: KVM and IP transmission according to SMPTE 2110

For G&D, the shift from SDI to IP transmission in accordance with SMPTE 2110 is a key motivation for developing KVM-over-IP systems. Just like standard productions, IP-based productions can be optimally combined with KVM installations. But how exactly does this interaction work?

The SMPTE 2110 standard regulates IP workflows to transmit data and data packets of the broadcast content. When it comes to productions, several people from different departments need to work with the same data streams. For this reason, it may be useful to split the data into video, audio and additional data (e.g. subtitles, captions and time code). SMPTE 2110 considers and regulates these requirements.

In addition, KVM-over-IP solutions can be used to make operating broadcast systems much more flexible. According to G&D’s Michael Kaiser-Uebelhoer, a KVM system has no actual contact to the broadcast content meaning that computer content is not transmitted in the form of data but rather as signals: KVM devices are connected to the computer’s keyboard, video and mouse interfaces and extend or switch the corresponding signals.

“Since the KVM system therefore has no direct point of contact with the broadcast data, it does not necessarily have to be designed for the use of IP,” he says. “Classic KVM solutions establish a direct connection between computer and workstation (via an intermediate KVM matrix system where necessary). The situation is different with KVM-over-IP. Here computer signals are fed into the network and converted back into ‘normal’ video, keyboard and mouse information on the receiver side.”

G&D explain that IP workflows according to SMPTE 2110 and KVM-over-IP can therefore share the same network and be used at the same time. For perfect interaction, G&D KVM-over-IP systems also support common network standards such as QoS and VLANs.

“Of course, our R&D is geared to market conditions and market requirements. We are convinced that in the future, too, there will generally be hybrid infrastructures - a combination of virtual and physical computers.”

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