Qvest Media Helps Broadcasters Manage The Shift To Virtualized Operations

As a long-standing systems architect and ICT integrator with 13 international offices that has designed and worked on some of the most high-profile broadcast facilities and live productions, Qvest Media is used to reshaping its business strategy to fit the current trends. Today, as the industry continues to migrate to cloud-based architectures and workflows that take advantage of IT-centric infrastructures, so too has the company’s service offerings.

It’s all part of the company’s continued strategy to help customers move their businesses forward and, consequently, expand its own standing as a thought leader for cloud migration in the industry.

Qvest Media now offers its multicloud management platform Qvest.Cloud, a software stack of microservices and third-party media applications that can be interconnected and orchestrated to support tailor-made, efficient production workflows in the cloud and scaled up or down (and turned on or off) as required. This, said company executives, is the best way to give customers the flexibility and scalability they desire to cost-effectively develop new types of programming services at a time of dramatic change in how content is produced and delivered while addressing areas like automated playout, live remote production, archiving, post-production and disaster recovery.

“There’s a whole new level of cost management that broadcasters and media companies have to understand, which is completely different from the usual production cycles and OpEx costs that clients worked with in the past,” said Ulrich Voigt, Head of Design at Qvest Media. “With our consultancy services we analyze your business, assess your requirements and user patterns and design a cloud migration strategy optimizing your financial budget.”

Designed to efficiently orchestrate, manage and monitor all types of media technology, the Qvest.Cloud multicloud management platform also addresses the often-unexpected costs of operating a virtual network - whether that be on premise, in the cloud or a hybrid of both. It contains a module called “Cost Control” that allows users to track the various cost elements that are involved and helps manage the network and keep it running as efficiently as possible. The add-on software module shows the cost of transfer, compute power and other aspects of a video workflow.

Qvest Media offers a series of pre-configured, ready-to-use package solutions, called Qvest.Cloud Go!.

Qvest Media offers a series of pre-configured, ready-to-use package solutions, called Qvest.Cloud Go!.

Qvest Media offers a series of pre-configured, ready-to-use package solutions, called Qvest.Cloud Go!, that are deployed as a SaaS model. This, they said, allows for flexible use and scaling as necessary. There’s Q.Live (live event production), Q.Create (post-production), Q.Archive (archiving), Q.Safe (disaster recovery), and Q.Air (channel playout). If a customer signs up for the service at Qvest Media, the company will provide a configured Qvest.Cloud Go! instance for this customer within days.

“What we do with Qvest.Cloud Go! is orchestrating a combination of products from different vendors to a packaged system,” said Voigt. “This combination is not something you will get anywhere else. You might get the same single products, but not the combination we have created and tested at Qvest Media. Our system integration experience is what makes these packages unique and, we think, more closely tailored to what the customer wants to do.”

Since the platform was introduced at the NAB Show in April, customers have taken to the idea. Voigt said they have received many requests to use the Qvest.Cloud Go! packages as a way to test the waters of virtualized production.

Qvest.Cloud Ultimate, on the other hand, is a solution to complete systems integration in the cloud. “With the enterprise version Qvest.Cloud Ultimate, customers can pick the applications from the platform’s ‘app store’ in order to create their desired workflow and off they go,” said Voigt.

The platform also offers “multi-cloud” management, whereby the Qvest Media team has coded the various microservices as an abstraction layer on top of different kinds of infrastructure. This can be a virtual machine on premise on VMware, for example, or on public cloud providers like AWSAzure and Google. Depending upon the system design, the company can install, initiate, manage, start and stop virtual machines, containers or remote SaaS services. And it’s all managed as a whole by Qvest.Cloud.

“So, we’re giving the customer the choice and freedom to use whatever infrastructure they choose,” Voigt added. “It can be on premise, it can be private cloud, public cloud or a mixture of two or more services. You can even mix and match options for the same workflow.” 

The Q.Safe application provides the necessary services for cloud-based Disaster Recovery, while delivering traditional playout automation.

The Q.Safe application provides the necessary services for cloud-based Disaster Recovery, while delivering traditional playout automation.

For example, clients can convert video material from Monday to Friday on premise. On weekends, when they have a higher load, they can add transcoding capacity on the cloud to the mix and elastically scale into the cloud. In this case they are still using their on-premise equipment but adding cloud processing on top. Then, after the weekend, they can run on premise again. And it’s all fully automated.

“If your primary distribution goes out online to social media for example, then there’s no real need to have everything inside your premises,” said Scott-Oliver Lührs, Principal for Cloud Business at Qvest Media. “We talk with a lot of clients where they need to keep the signal in-house for various reasons (e.g. regulations or compliance). All this has to be managed and controlled. In order to optimize the workflow, you have to know where your signals are and how much data you are transferring where. You also have to learn the various cost structures, depending upon where you are storing content and how much access you need.”

The platform takes advantage of containerized microservices that can be spun up very quickly and then taken down when not needed. Users can deploy individual task-specific applications that are then accessible from different workflows via APIs. Qvest.Cloud provides the workflow/integration modules that take these APIs and use them to create new virtualized workflows. This, for example, allows the use of the same transcoder microservice in different application scenarios for different use cases. Users then simply exchange the modules as required.

The company began developing Qvest.Cloud in 2017 when it acquired HMS GmbH, a specialist in hardware and software development of end-to-end broadcast automation solutions. As part of Qvest Media, the company and its team of software developers has since been expanded significantly from its original 25 employees.

Q.Archive automatically handles content archiving and repurposing.

Q.Archive automatically handles content archiving and repurposing.

“We’ve made considerable investment in software development, as that’s where we need to be as systems integrators,” said Voigt. “We’ve always followed a ‘best-of-breed’ strategy to design the most efficient infrastructure and workflows for our customers, regardless of specific technology used. With the flexibility of Qvest.Cloud Ultimate, we have designed a technology stack that supports this strategy 100 percent.

“We hear a lot from broadcasters that they want to move to the cloud, most of which have already started with a few migration projects,” Lührs said. “It’s only a matter of time for most of these people. We have strongly increased requests for cloud-based projects and are therefore significantly increasing our staffing to address this.”

“Qvest.Cloud is completely open to any third-party application a customer might want to use,” Voigt said. “We are providing the integration platform with open APIs that are regularly enhanced with additional functionalities provided by our steadily growing Qvest.Cloud partner ecosystem. What you use underneath is your choice.”

So, as consumer viewing habits have dramatically changed the way broadcasters and media companies create and deliver content, Qvest.Cloud is facilitating this change. And it brings all the cloud benefits such as cost optimization and transparency, agility and flexibility of on-demand tools, scalability, 24/7/365 business continuity, worldwide collaboration and a fast go-to-market using cloud infrastructures.

“We’re combining our years of experience as systems integrator with different tools when we support a media company migrate parts of their business into the cloud”, said Voigt. “With this technology stack I am certain that workflows and the way of working in media and broadcast will change dramatically.”

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