​Is Cloud Playout Ready? PACE Media Development Has A View

Cloud playout, with graphics and branding, holds out the hope to broadcasters of being able to introduce new channels on an operational expenditure basis rather than investing in dedicated hardware. The question is not whether the notoriously risk averse broadcaster will move their playout provision to IP – the benefits are widely understood – but when. Here, Martin Schröder, founder and managing director of German company PACE Media Development, gives his view. Pace develops and markets the software-based Cuba Playout channel in a box which can handle 4K workflows and is in use by Red Bull Media House and Fashion 4K.

BroadcastBridge: What are the chief benefits to a service provider of adopting Cloud playout?

Martin Schröder: No Capex; Short setup time for new channels without having to own spare resources; Reduced human resources for IT tasks; Reduced security efforts.

BroadcastBridge:To what extent can playout infrastructure be shifted to the cloud today?

MS: All infrastructure for a file-based playout scenario can be shifted to the Cloud without problem. Live feeds have to be encoded on location or on customer's site because you won't find SDI infrastructure in non-specialised cloud scenarios.

BroadcastBridge: How easy is this shift – what does it entail?

MS: This depends on the customer's existing "classical" workflow. The higher IT integration in existing workflows is developed, the easier these workflows can be adapted to a cloud scenario. Also experience with integrated playout solutions will make it easier to move to the cloud.

BroadcastBridge: What are the barriers to adoption?

MS: Business: When there is hardware which is not amortized yet it won't be reasonable by economic means to move existing playouts to cloud. Also there will be training costs to handle new technologies and some new equipment will be necessary on customer's site

Technical: Bandwidth from customer's premises to public internet. Some new skills will be necessary. No realtime monitoring of the outgoing signal. There will be a need for a new monitoring/QC infrastructure. IP-based instead of SDI.

Psychological: General fear of new technologies; Security concerns; Concerns regarding stability; Being dependent on the cloud service provider.

BroadcastBridge: Are dedicated graphics engines or other dedicated hardware still necessary to run channels in the cloud?

MS: Dedicated hardware is inconsistent with the cloud scenario. There will only be integrated playout solutions in the cloud.

BroadcastBridge: What are the challenges involved in delivering Ultra HD from the cloud?

MS: The availability of hardware accelerated HEVC encoding. The bigger amount of data to be transported over internet connections.

BroadcastBridge: What type of media organisation or application will move to Cloud playout first?

MS: New service providers who don't own existing infrastructure.

Existing service providers when offering new products for IP distribution.

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