Field Report: Business Continuity Solution for Abu Dhabi Media

Cloud-native business continuity solution from Imagine Communications provides model for fully virtualized TV playout and delivery infrastructure at Abu Dhabi Media.

Imagine Communications recently implemented a business continuity playout site, with full premium channel and live content functionality, for Abu Dhabi Media (ADM). The disaster recovery solution uses Imagine Communications' playout, automation and other software products running on du's Media Cloud platform. du is one of the leading Information and Communication Technologies (ICT) service providers in the United Arab Emirates.

ADM persistently challenged Imagine Communications and du to expand the functional scope of the project. The successful launch of the business continuity service in latter 2016 was the result of an extended proof-of-concept phase. The result was a cloud-native, secure facility that provides all of the functionality of ADM's primary, premises-based operations. The cloud-based deployment also prompted ADM to revitalize its on-site playout operations to match the performance and flexibility of the new cloud-based facilities.

Workflows

The current workflow is distributed across the two facilities. Schedules and schedule updates issued by Imagine Communications' Broadcast Master traffic system. They are sent to both the existing ADC automation platform in Abu Dhabi and to the Versio playout software operating in the du datacentre in Dubai. Versio calls for scheduled content that is not cached in the cloud. It prioritizes its uploads to ensure it meets immediate needs and to provide complete security.

The high performance of the core cloud-based playout and MAM functionality provided by Versio and Imagine's Nexio Motion MAM solution, encouraged ADM to request further functionality to mirror the complete capabilities of its on-site operations. The remote site needed live program capabilities, including news. The addition of a SelenioFlex Live encoder on the live feeds allowed the content to be streamed into the Versio engine, helping to continue seamless playout of all content.

ADM worked with Imagine and du to fortify the remote facilities with graphics capabilities fully compatible with ADM's traditional facilities. Using Imagine Communications' Channel Brand software, all graphics templates generated over the last nine years can be called and populated by the schedule seamlessly.

Results

''Our strategy is to move towards an all-IP infrastructure in due course, and this proof of concept of full IP playout channels running on a datacentre miles away is an important step for our broadcast industry in the region,'' said Hamad Abdelrazaq, director of technology, Live Media Production Services at ADM. ''Imagine Communications showed that they could do it today, and our proof-of-concept installation is now part of our long-term vision.''

''Working with Imagine Communications, we have created a cloud-native business continuity site which precisely mirrors the functionality of our traditional playout, and we have transmitted from it,'' added Peter Van-Dam, technical advisor, Live Media Production Services at ADM. ''Great cooperation between us, Imagine Communications and du has achieved something we thought, at first, was too ambitious.

''But more than giving us the perfect business continuity solution, we now have a template going forward. We have seen that a software-defined architecture provides not only the functionality but the performance that premium broadcast channels demand. What we have implemented on du's media cloud we will implement on-premises as our next-generation playout facility, giving us the flexibility and agility to respond to growing demands of our channels, our clients and our audiences.''

Imagine Communications director of sales for the Middle East and North Africa, is Anas Hantash. She said, ''This was a real partnership, and I pay tribute to the efforts of the team at du, who worked with us to meet the challenges set by ADM. It¹s fair to say that both ADM and du were looking to Imagine to demonstrate that we could make premium broadcast playout and multiplatform delivery work in the cloud. That we are now seen as a major partner by du is a testament to the success of this project.''

Fahad al Hassawi, chief commercial officer at du, agreed. ''Our goal is to work with insightful partners, such as Imagine Communications, who are willing to push the envelope when it comes to technology. We are very pleased to be pioneering the first operator-hosted media cloud solution.''

ADM and Imagine Communications have entered into a service level agreement to upgrade the existing facility to the new virtualized platform, running on Hewlett Packard Enterprise (HPE) severs and systems, a preliminary step toward all-IP operations. ADM plans on working further with Imagine towards migrating the entire operation, currently supporting 14 channels, to IP.

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