Network Orchestration And Monitoring At NAB 2024

Sophisticated IP infrastructure requires software layers to facilitate network & infrastructure planning, orchestration, and monitoring and there will be plenty in this area to see at the 2024 NAB Show.

For every complex IP infrastructure, even in decentralized ones, there are IP Network Orchestration and Monitoring layers at the core that provide control, resource sharing and real-time visibility of each device on the network. Without it, signals won’t go where they need to or a desired piece of technology won’t be available to staff in a second control room or production studio.

Indeed, before the days of software-defined networking (SDN) and network automation, all network setup was done manually. Today, of course, manual setup is nearly impossible. Instead, media organizations use network controllers and programmable network devices that can systematically execute what's required.

At this year’s NAB Show, a myriad of solutions will be demonstrated that are designed to handle both large and small infrastructures and can be adapted for IP and SDI workflows, offering a scalable solution that can meet the demands of today’s (and tomorrow’s) production operations.

On The Show Floor

Here’s a few companies to look at when you’re walking the Las Vegas Convention Center floor.

AlvaLinks CloudRider provides network observability across all sources.

AlvaLinks CloudRider provides network observability across all sources.

AlvaLinks (Booth W4337) calls its CloudRider monitoring technology a “real-time observability solution” that ensures quality-of-service for the most intricate and complex traffic flows. It’s ideal for observing and analyzing long-haul IP video transport.

At the booth the company will show six CloudRider software modules: StreamTest, StreamRide, StreamPath and FlowMonitor, BufferEmulation, and ScopeView. The latter uses cloud-based analytics and statistics for historical investigations and long-term analysis. As a whole they can serve as a sophisticated real time network observability suite for the whole IP contribution ecosystem, from source to destination regardless of transport method or provider. This, they say, helps gain trust in the network and increase operational efficiency.

Providing full visibility across all sources, CloudRider enhances operational efficiency by tracking data as it moves to and from different sources including cloud platforms, data centers, camera feeds, multicast services, and standard internet access points. Users can seamlessly connect with all orchestration platforms to ensure real time and accurate end-to-end infrastructure monitoring. This in turn helps IT staff fine-tune and optimize their network to increase accuracy and trust that all is working correctly throughout each phase of operation and to trouble shoot quickly and efficiently in the event of disruption. 

Cisco NFDC Scaled Topology View

Cisco NFDC Scaled Topology View

Cisco (Booth W2743) will be demonstrating an impressive portfolio of innovative technology at the 2024 NAB Show, and their team are a superb source of expert advice on network design and management.

The network fabric is of course the foundation of any high-performance network and Cisco will show their Nexus’s 9000 Series Switches which support high density and bandwidth capacities with link speeds up to 400G and 800G - enabling future-proofed IP routing systems for even the largest media environments.

IP Multicast Routing is a fundamental part of IP production systems, and managing bandwidth in the control system is paramount. Protocol Independent Multicast (PIM) supports multicast routing across networks in conjunction with Cisco’s key innovation, Non-Blocking Multicast (NBM) which brings bandwidth awareness to PIM ECMP protocols to prevent oversubscription, a significant challenge faced by media customers. NBM is a capability that brings bandwidth intelligence to the network to prevent oversubscription. Broadcasters can reliably extend bandwidth awareness across distributed facilities to support remote or centralized productions. In NBM Active Mode, the network orchestrates paths from source to destination based on the Broadcast Controller’s intent ensuring they are non-blocking and optimized.

A key element of any complex production network is Automation. Cisco with show their Nexus Dashboard Fabric Controller which provides a single point of management, streamlined automation, comprehensive monitoring, and visibility, for IP Fabric for Media (IPFM) deployments. NDFC, using its telemetry capabilities, also provides end-to-end flow path visualization, flow analytics, flow statistics like bitrate, speed, and bandwidth coming out of the cameras, health of the network, PTP statistics to track any drift or offset in timing, and send notifications to the operator for monitoring and troubleshooting the network. NDFC can also monitor RTP flows to detect and pinpoint where the loss is happening in the network. The Broadcast Controller remains the final authority and controls how paths need to be stitched from the source to the destination. It provides the intent whilst the NFDC acts upon that intent. The Broadcast Controller can directly talk to the switches using the Nexus API or by leveraging NDFC as the management tool and using the NDFC device APIs. NDFC integrates with the best-in-class Broadcast Controllers facilitating secure, end to-end bandwidth efficiency for media deployments.

Evertz (Booth SU2027) will show new features for its Magnum OS, a set of software tools that provide control, orchestration, monitoring and analytics in a single integrated solution. It bridges all of the major components (whether all-SDI, all-IP or hybrid) within the broadcast path under an enterprise software set of capabilities enabling broadcasters to simplify facility workflow and gain efficiency while reducing operational costs.

The Evertz Magnum OS software suite offers a collection of tools like this Monitoring Dashboard.

The Evertz Magnum OS software suite offers a collection of tools like this Monitoring Dashboard.

With its set of control, orchestration and monitoring tools, Magnum OS is designed to scale and grow with a production facility, offering the ability to start small with a basic set of capabilities and then grow those functions and capabilities to meet the needs of the facticity as it expands. It provides the control, orchestration, monitoring, and analytics on thousands of devices and multiple systems. The platform also enables services to be distributed or consolidated across nodes in order to access additional resources such as compute, memory, and storage as required in a scalable architecture.

As the industry migrates towards an IP-centric facility, Magnum OS, through its various software modules, enables content providers to seamlessly transition from SDI to IP. As the SDVN orchestration and control layer, Magnum OS leverages Evertz and 3rd Party 10/100GE high capacity switch fabrics, media IP gateways, and the company’s traditional SDI products such as its EQX 3G/HD/SD-SDI routers. This, said Evertz, gives broadcasters, content distributors and service providers a flexible, format-agnostic and scalable infrastructure for SD, HD, 3G, and Ultra HD (4K and 8K) video.

Lawo (Booth C4110) will launch a number of new server based, microservices powered HOME Apps that deliver flexible, scalable video and audio processing at the 2024 NAB Show – all of which are covered in other articles in this series. At the heart of the ecosystem is HOME itself - it’s the orchestration system which makes planning and running productions a more streamlined and intuitive experience. HOME is a management platform for IP-based media infrastructures that is designed to connect, manage and secure all aspects and instances of live production environments. HOME provides the software control suite and centralized services for fast and effective interaction of engineers with their tools. 

Inside HOME, once the system is configured, discovery of devices is automatic, while registering and admitting them to the network when building and running projects is simplified and highly efficient. It facilitates effective advanced planning and preparation and enables rapid addition of resources and devices during production when required. The HOME apps offer the immense flexibility and scalability of software that is microservices based to broadcast production, but it is HOME itself which brings it all together.

Other Options

This article would not be complete without mention of the other three big players in broadcast (Grass Valley, Ross and Sony) who all have highly evolved orchestration and monitoring tools but who have not as yet made any specific product announcements in this arena for the show…but may delight us all with innovative new technologies as the show opens, and are inevitably a worthwhile destination on the show floor.

How You Manage IP Is Up To You

Attendees of the NAB Show will see a plethora of choices on the exhibit floor that facilitate ways to configure, manage, monitor and analyze an IP network. How you implement it is up to you. Configuration and deployment can be challenging, so thankfully vendor experts will also be able to offer help and advice. Successful system design will bring flexibility and the power to do more with the resources at hand.

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