This opinion piece was originally published in the September issue of the EBU Tech-i Magazine.
The Eurovision Global Network delivers more than 100,000 transmissions every year, carrying thousands of hours of major sports, news and cultural events. In the same way that media organizations have begun the transition to IP-based production and workflows within their own facilities, we at Eurovision Media Services have been working hard over the last few years to stay ahead of the game and provide technology solutions that help clients to maximize their reach to audiences around the world.
Our vision is to build the network of the future. To do so, we continue to enhance our Eurovision Global Network by putting in place the tools needed to allow us to deliver premium services in an enterprise-quality cloud. We recently upgraded the Eurovision Global Fibre Network with optical IP fibre that is highly programmable with end-to-end QoS and delivers multiple 100 gigabit per second flows. We also introduced new software-based processing units that are able to adapt their functions to client demands thanks to virtualization. Gradually we’re adding more possibilities for clients to plug-in their own production resources and programme their own distributed workflows.
What we see today is networked IT and reprogrammable real-time architecture coming together in the cloud, offering full orchestration within the entire media production and delivery chain. Gradually, our satellite infrastructure will converge with this approach.
In Eurovision Media Services we are increasingly taking advantage of the private cloud-based world: real-time, high bandwidth, uncompressed. We also combine it with deployments in the public cloud for specific applications. As we are providing a wide range of media services, it is our priority to make the new infrastructure operate services end-to-end, from broadcast delivery to streaming.
A key element for us is to make it possible to quickly and easily programme workflows through the front end, embedding them into the cloud. Our starting point is a professional network with high reliability, where clients can orchestrate microservices in real time. We’re working to ensure a certain amount of standardization in the real-time programming unit so that we can change functionality quickly, adapting to the production needs of our clients.
The challenges are both technological and human, to ensure the necessary agility and flexibility. We are constantly training our staff and sourcing new talent with the necessary skills to take advantage of the new IT tools. For example, while routing becomes more and more a commodity task, there is a need for a network centre that monitors the global cloud on a permanent basis. And even with a high degree of programmability and automation, there’s still a need to be available to clients that require specific workflows other than those available off the shelf. The DevOps teams delivering these services are also responsible for the support and development of the system’s back and front ends for each business application.
So, we’re seeing a gradual change in both the talent and the working methods in-house. Our teams increasingly come from the IT industry, bringing expertise on the software and orchestration framework to deliver microservices. But it is also essential for them to have a strong understanding of the broadcast world. Broadcast-IT talent and the focus on talent development are key in this new world. We’re on a dynamic and exciting journey. We’ve already rolled out a first example of our distributed cloud approach with some of our big clients, introducing the idea of re-programmability in both linear and non-linear services. We’re striving to foster a culture of innovation within our organization, underpinning the development of these new products and services.
To access the article in the magazine, click here (pg. 14).