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Getting away from Heavy Iron:

As I looked forward to another IBC show, I found myself thinking about many of the issues that have been weighing recently on our collective minds: what does this latest wave of industry consolidation mean to our businesses and our customers? What are broadcasters and content creators to do with the constant chatter about 4K and UHDTV, when at the same time they are faced with the relentless downward pressure on operating expenses?

I don’t feel that consolidation is necessarily good or bad: it’s just a natural part of business and as the popular saying goes, ‘consolidation happens!’ If anything, the broadcasting business has been spoiled for a long time and has managed to escape not being forced into finding efficiencies until more recently. I agree that if you’ve been working the same old broadcasting tech job for 20 years, these can be unsettling times, but for manufacturers who tailor their solutions to creating these efficiencies, things are looking up.

The traditional broadcasting industry has always done an incredible job with manufacturing reliable systems, but these came with a hefty price tag. With ‘heavy iron’ doing the work, traditional broadcast infrastructures were very resilient.

However, because of the high prices of these systems, broadcasters typically had to work with a limited amount of redundancy: if failures occurred, the limited failover path would allow certain functions to work at partial capacity until someone fixed the problem. Today, modern integrated playout systems are built on off-the-shelf hardware. While some might argue that individual computer systems don’t have the reliability that ‘heavy iron’ had in the past, it’s important to note that what we have instead are completely redundant systems that allow your failover to match the exact capability you have on your primary system – for far less than the cost of a traditional playout system of just a few years ago. So when it comes to reducing costs and comparing systems, it’s important to look at the whole picture, not just the initial price tag.

BroadStream Solutions is very involved in transitioning away from baseband towards a completely IP based infrastructure. The industry is very comfortable working with baseband signals, but 4K won’t realistically happen by simply multiplying all SDI cables by four (although I’m sure the cable manufacturers would love that!).

The only way it’s really going to happen will be with an all IP infrastructure. We already have a number of systems in the field that are IP-in and IP-out servers with no baseband at all. It’s a key part of our roadmap and direction. Once we all get IP enabled, we’ll have the method and infrastructure necessary to support 4K and more. Besides, IP and IT infrastructure fits nicely into the desire to reduce costs, footprint, and complexity going forward.

So if you are ready to start moving away from the ‘heavy iron’ age, you should really come and chat with us on our booth.