SaaS To Be Core Of Grass Valley Business Going Forward

With its core business in live sports production, Grass Valley has seen its revenue contract significantly over the past eight months but with a new integrated software-defined product roadmap, it looks to bounce back while “reducing the pain” of migrating to IP. This insight, and more, was revealed during a virtual press conference presented by company management in early October.

Grass Valley is promoting its Agile Media Processing Platform (AMPP) as the core of its cloud-based service offerings. On top of that sits an orchestration software layer called GV Orbit. From these two technologies Grass valley will offer a number of applications—like its new AMPP Playout as well as its Master Control Switching, Multiviewing and Signal Processing I/O apps—as part of its GV Media Universe.

“AMPP is the solution customers need to increase their yield per asset by unleashing the creativity of their talent and accessing efficiencies in their workflows,” said Tim Shoulders, CEO and President of Grass Valley.

Built for the cloud from the start, GV AMPP is specifically designed to overcome broadcasters' long-time reliance on costly and inflexible hardware-based media systems. The platform lets users spin up or spin down applications as needed — and to only pay for the services you use — even in traditionally costly live production environments. It supports all common local input and output formats including SMPTE ST 2110, NDI and SDI for easy connectivity.

With Dynamic Infrastructure management, users get the ability to not only take advantage of the COTS routing infrastructure, but also the ability to pair that with high-density or COTS-based software-defined processing.

With Dynamic Infrastructure management, users get the ability to not only take advantage of the COTS routing infrastructure, but also the ability to pair that with high-density or COTS-based software-defined processing.

“AMPP has opened up a world for us of a pay-as-you-go model,” said Shoulders, adding that several customers, like Timeline TV in the UK, are already using it. “So our customers aren’t paying millions of dollars to experiment with a new workflow or a new media operation,. They pay only for what they use. Between all of our products within the GV Media Universe, we have created a controlled and tested environment. We can really reduce the pain and cost for our customers broadcast infrastructures by providing them with a fully integrated solution.”

Sydney Lovely, CTO and GM of Grass Valley’s Networking Business, explained that standards and formats are necessary, but not the be all and end all for customers.

“There’s a lot of activity in the industry around standards and interoperability, but people often lose sight of why we’re doing this in the first place,” he said. “What it comes down to is not just trying to make IP work, but trying to make IP work for you. To allow you to unleash new workflows and new capability.”

To accomplish this, the company has broken its service offerings into three main categories within GV Orbit: Dynamic Infrastructure Management, Device Management and Software Processing. All of this is powered by GV Orbit.

The company has separated its cloud-based service offerings into three main categories within GV Orbit.

The company has separated its cloud-based service offerings into three main categories within GV Orbit.

Dynamic Infrastructure Management

This gives the ability to not only take advantage of the COTS routing infrastructure, but also the ability to pair that with high-density or COTS-based software-defined processing. This gives us a tremendous amount of I.O bandwidth and processing in a dense, ruggedized environment for a flexible COTS environment or a combination of all of these.

There is no one size fits all solution, so GV Orbit is very easy to deploy and very easy to reconfigure and take advantage of that flexibility that you just invested in with your IP infrastructure.

Dynamic Device Management

This will become a very important aspect of live production for many years to come. Lovely said GV is building best in class dynamic device management “as a key fundamental tenant of our dynamic IP blueprint. A good example, GV Cluster Manager. This lets you mange an entire studio of multiviewing capabilities and devices, all from a single desktop that allows you to deploy one configuration for a morning show, and then reconfigure it for the afternoon or evening news.”

Dynamic Software Processing

This is the ability to move away from traditional hardware and harness that capability but move forward in a much more agile manner. You are no longer tied to hard-wired solutions. You’re connecting that generic compute environment and being able to manage that through various reload software personalities.

“The cool part is Dynamic software processing,” said Lovely. “Now you can imagine an IP environment and having your orchestration layer be smart enough to know you’d like a certain output format and automatically configure the entire processing chain to create and conform and normalize that. And if that output changes, reconfigure it with different personalities. So, that’s the difference between ordinary software processing and dynamic software processing.”

“We’re focused on responding to our customers’ need during this time,” Shoulders said. “We understand our customers’ pain points very well. They are now required to deliver more content to more platforms and now they have to adhere to socially distancing protocols. And at a moment’s notice be able to change workflows to adjust to these challenging and unpredictable conditions.

The new GV AMPP Playout app offers a wealth of traditional master control features and some new IT-centric capabilities, all hosted in the cloud.

The new GV AMPP Playout app offers a wealth of traditional master control features and some new IT-centric capabilities, all hosted in the cloud.

The need for flexibility is greater than ever before. Our customers are required to add this flexibility and expand their capabilities with the same budget or less. So, at Grass Valley we feel we have the solutions to help guide our customers to a place where they can take a better position with all of this change.”

He said that what they are doing with GV AMPP and their expanding SaaS offerings is allowing users to experience the elasticity that the cloud brings as well as letting them deploy their chosen solution in any configuration: be it in the public cloud, on premise, or a hybrid of the two. Despite an early reluctance by many to migrate to IP, the pandemic has prompted media companies to make the move faster than they might have otherwise, leaving established media workflows behind.

“We’ve watched as our customer’s priorities have changed [due to the pandemic],” Shoulders said. “If there’s one thing that will stick with us as a result of this pandemic, it’s had an effect to slay all of the sacred cows that were in media around security or concerns around moving to cloud-based workflows.”

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