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IBC2016: “IP is not the Emperor’s new clothes!”

Niall Duffy, head of IT and workflow solutions at Sony Professional, brought together a heavyweight panel of industry experts to advise IBC delegates on whether IP was “the Emperor’s new clothes?”

Mike Cronk of the Alliance for IP Media Solutions led the panel in stressing how crucial IP now is, and that IP should be the key ingredient in a broadcaster’s strategy.

Russell Grute (Broadcast Innovation) said that in his everyday work he had to make sense of IP, and what the client wanted to achieve. “I am continually asked whether IP is yet ready to be employed in key areas, and to replace SDI. It’s just as important to determine whether the use of IP will achieve any more than was being managed under SDI.”

Sony’s Michael Harritt said that IP for him was not an ‘either/or’ but an enabler, for 4K video, and the means to start working differently, for remote production and live video. “It is more than just streaming. For many clients it is a paradigm shift, changing the entire infrastructure and taking broadcasters to the next generation in a unified way.”

Mark Hilton (Grass Valley) said that IP can be end-to-end but it was already in use at the control layer, was now ready for the data layer and is the first – and necessary – step to get to the virtualised data centre which itself gives flexibility and functionality.

Steve Plunkett (Ericsson) explained that Ericsson was originating some 500 TV channels, most of which had been built with traditional facilities. “We’d like to do a few things to dramatically reduce the time needed to establish a new TV channel with software that’s been pre-tested and pre-integrated, and highly automated. Even better, in two to three years when we need to again update that software we can add functionality and new benefits. None of this is possible without IP.”

Simon Reed (Evertz) argued that IP is a huge enabler for the industry. “We have been locked into dedicated hardware, and it is hugely difficult to break out of that model. We must get rid of SDI, and move to a data-centric approach. IP will also allow broadcasters to move at the pace they want, and to start competing with the Netflixes and Amazons and launching new channels effortlessly.”