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THE FU­TURE OF SYS­TEM IN­TE­GRA­TION WITH QVEST.CLOUD

At IBC 2018, Qvest Me­dia in­tro­duced Qvest.Cloud an ad­vanced man­age­ment plat­form to in­te­grate and op­er­ate me­dia ser­vices and ap­pli­ca­tions us­ing web tech­nolo­gies. Qvest Me­dia’s Head of De­sign Ul­rich Voigt ex­plains the rea­sons for de­vel­op­ing the plat­form and ben­e­fits of so­lu­tion de­sign and sys­tem in­te­gra­tion us­ing cloud-na­tive tech­nol­ogy.

S: Tell us about the back­ground and rea­sons for de­vel­op­ing the Qvest.Cloud plat­form?

DUl­rich Voigt: We have been look­ing into the fu­ture of sys­tem in­te­gra­tion. So how would be Sys­tem In­te­gra­tion in the fu­ture say a 5 year hori­zon and how would one build me­dia sys­tems? Our con­clu­sion was it be­comes more and more soft­ware based and cloud based. So the ca­pa­bil­i­ties and ex­per­tise that a SI needs have to be soft­ware based – you have to know about apis and so on.

We de­cided we could be­come a cus­tom soft­ware de­vel­oper or take a stan­dard­ized pro­duc­tized ap­proach with a stan­dard set of tools. We de­cided to go this way and to de­velop a cloud mag­ment plat­form fo­cused on me­dia and hy­brid cloud and multi cloud de­ploy­ment so that you can make use of any of the big cloud providers and could build the bridge to your on­prem sys­tem and to look at this form an end to end holis­tic point of view.

Mean­ing that we are not only look­ing at or­ches­trat­ing the cloud de­ploy­ment but also or­ches­trat­ing the workflow in be­tween and con­nect­ing the dots. We are also look­ing to mon­i­tor and mea­sure the sys­tems and the work­flows and we are also hav­ing a look at the cost im­pli­ca­tion and pro­vide a com­po­nent for cost con­trol.

So it’s an end to end cloud man­age­ment

plat­form that will fa­cil­i­tate move into the cloud and de­ploy­ment of me­dia sys­tems into the cloud. It’s built for en­ter­prises in gen­eral. Our cur­rent core cus­tomers are broad­cast­ers and sports or­gan­i­sa­tions but also post-pro­duc­tion com­pa­nies, OTT providers and also cor­po­rate cus­tomers who deal with video.

DS: What were your main con­sid­er­a­tions in your ap­proach to de­sign­ing the plat­form?

The main con­sid­er­a­tions were to re­ally pro­vide some­thing that cov­ers the full scope and so we can’t be the best in cloud or­ches­tra­tion or workflow or­ches­tra­tion or mon­i­tor­ing so­lu­tions. There are many spe­cial­ized prod­ucts in out there, but ev­ery prod­uct ad­dressed one area.

We would like to pro­vide a com­pre­hen­sive end to end so­lu­tion that of course makes use of lot of the open source tools that have be­come the de facto stan­dard in cloud, and to in­te­grate them into one plat­form, and then to add the me­dia spe­cific func­tion­al­ity on top of it.

So for ex­am­ple that the plat­form knows about me­dia files and for­mats. And it is de­signed for long run­ning tasks such as transcod­ing and it is re­ally me­dia aware. Ac­cord­ing to our re­search and feed­back we got from clients this was some­thing so far not ex­ist­ing in the mar­ket.

We wanted to build a man­age­ment and in­te­gra­tion plat­form with a broad scope and foot­print spe­cial­ized for me­dia en­ter­prises and to fig­ure out the ar­eas where we have to do our own cod­ing and ar­eas where we can use ex­ist­ing prod­ucts. This has been the main chal­lenge.

It also shows that for a cus­tomer to ac­quire th­ese skills on its own is a quite com­plex and ex­pen­sive process. We are work­ing with al­most 20 de­vel­op­ers since one year on this so we have al­ready 20 man years in­vested in this and we will in­vest much more. This is some­thing one sin­gle me­dia en­ter­prise usu­ally can’t af­ford and there­fore it makes sense to of­fer it as a pro­duc­tised ap­proach.

We are not of­fer­ing the ac­tual busi­ness func­tion­al­ity – so we are not a MAM sys­tem or playout sys­tem or workflow

WHEN WE DO SOME­THING NEW WE ARE TRY­ING TO BRING AS MUCH NEW AND FU­TURE READY TECH­NOL­OGY AS POS­SI­BLE BUT OF COURSE WE KEEP IN PACE WITH THE CA­PA­BIL­ITY OF THE CLIENT TO TRANS­FORM...WE ARE HELP­ING IN THIS TRANS­FOR­MA­TION, BUT YOU HAVE TO START WHERE THE CLIENT IS TO­DAY.

sys­tem etc. Th­ese all come from our part­ners and we are go­ing to in­te­grate them. We demon­strated the use cases at IBC where we in­te­grated with 22 part­ners and the goal for NAB is to sig­nif­i­cantly in­crease the amount of part­ners.

For ev­ery­thing we are do­ing there is an API along with de­scrip­tions and pack­ages of how a part­ner can con­nect to it. And the goal is to have a large and open part­ner ecosys­tem to make it easy for en­ter­prises to ben­e­fit from Qvest.Cloud.

DS: How was the re­sponse from clients and part­ners to the Qvest. Cloud demo at IBC?

The re­sponse was very very pos­i­tive. Ac­tu­ally much more pos­i­tive than we had dreamed of. Be­fore IBC, we were a lit­tle bit scared that we are might be a bit too early with this in the mar­ket, and we were more pre­pared to ex­plain the chal­lenges to cus­tomers along with the so­lu­tion. But we were kind of sur­prised that ev­ery cus­tomer was get­ting the point – they were ac­tu­ally aware of the need for this so­lu­tion. Many cus­tomer have felt the need for this so­lu­tion, so the feed­back was very pos­i­tive

IBC was a pre-launch and the fi­nal avail­abil­ity at NAB in April. We have a lot of cus­tomers and also part­ners so the same pos­i­tive feed­back from the part­ner side. So there are a lot of cus­tomers and part­ners lin­ing up and wait­ing for prod­uct launch at NAB.

Peo­ple in­ter­ested are al­ways in­vited to get in touch – we are not stop­ping com­mu­ni­ca­tion un­til NAB and we con­tinue to get clients on-board. We can start the work now even if the fi­nal prod­uct is launch­ing only at NAB.

DS: How can broad­cast­ers still work­ing with tra­di­tional work­flows adopt the cloud plat­form?

We would like to try to help cus­tomers with this so­lu­tion and our over­all con­sult­ing and SI ex­per­tise to move into the mod­ern world. Mean­ing that we start where our cus­tomers are to­day and then per­haps start with a small scale out project such as transcod­ing in the cloud or some dis­tri­bu­tion in the cloud or Ar­ti­fi­cial In­tel­li­gence. And then ex­pand the ca­pa­bil­i­ties of their cur­rent sys­tems into the cloud.

We are also talk­ing to the main legacy me­dia tech­nol­ogy en­ter­prises like Sony, Avid, Grass Val­ley, Imag­ine etc., to see how we can start from their sys­tems and then ex­pand into cloud, al­ways know­ing that we de­fine cloud also as some­thing that will not be on just a cloud-na­tive stack. So you can run a cloud stack with Dock­er­ize and all the cloud na­tive stuff. But you also can run cloud on-premises and we are pro­vid­ing the soft­ware stack for this.

Cloud does not al­ways mean pub­lic cloud like AWS - you can use run it in your own data can­ter or an­other pri­vate data cen­tre. In the Mid­dle East there are a lot of broad­cast­ers that are not yet ready to move to a pub­lic cloud. There­fore we also can help them with a pri­vate cloud on their premises or with a telco’s data cen­tre for ex­am­ple.

We are work­ing with beta clients and when we launch at NAB we will be ready to name the early cus­tomers. The goal is to have clients not just in Europe and also a ref­er­ence in the Mid­dle East.

DS: Are Sys­tem In­te­gra­tors to­day mov­ing away from tra­di­tional broad­cast ex­per­tise and need to have IT ex­per­tise?

Yes def­i­nitely. That is why for the ba­sis of Qvest.Cloud, we ac­quired a soft­ware com­pany to ac­quire the soft­ware skills - HMS Me­dia, a Ger­man com­pany known for mid-sized playout au­to­ma­tion sys­tems, be­cause they have the ex­pe­ri­ence and know how to or­ga­nize prod­uct de­vel­op­ment in soft­ware.

The Qvest.Cloud Prod­uct de­vel­op­ment team was added on top of their legacy work be­cause their ex­per­tise was cru­cial - from there we got the method­ol­ogy of how to do the soft­ware prod­uct de­vel­op­ment.

At the same time, we are train­ing our broad­cast en­gi­neers to get skills in cloud, in web ser­vices, in JSON, Javascript etc. So that the ac­tual in­te­gra­tion work where you have to un­der­stand what are the ca­pa­bil­i­ties of APIs and where you have to use the toolset of Qvest cloud to do the in­te­gra­tion - that this can be done by trained broad­cast en­gi­neers.

This is how we did the IBC show­case also where we in­te­grated a small broad­cast sta­tion so all the usu­ally bits and pieces were in­te­grated by our broad­cast en­gi­neers us­ing the toolset that Qvest. Cloud pro­vides. The core de­vel­op­ers at HMS are de­vel­op­ing the base prod­uct but the in­te­gra­tion of the prod­uct can be done by our trained broad­cast en­gi­neers.

DS: What were the ma­jor shifts in the mar­ket you no­ticed at IBC?

There is of course a shift to­wards OTT in the dis­tri­bu­tion side but this still does not ren­der ev­ery­thing else ir­rel­e­vant. There is still a huge de­mand in build­ing stu­dios and build­ing pro­duc­tion fa­cil­i­ties and re­mote pro­duc­tion. Huge de­mand in live pro­duc­tion and high qual­ity sport pro­duc­tion with all the re­mote ca­pa­bil­i­ties. To­day you have au­to­mated pro­duc­tion ca­pa­bil­i­ties so do­ing more in higher qual­ity with fewer peo­ple, there is a huge de­mand.

Then the en­tire shift to­wards broad­cast IP SMTPE2110 and so on – we are hav­ing large projects in this area. In Switzer­land we have done the con­sult­ing and plan­ning for the largest IT project in Europe.

In the fu­ture OTT ser­vices will move on premise pro­duc­tion fa­cil­i­ties to 4K and IP and we are at the fore­front with large projects in this area. In ev­ery of th­ese projects we are eval­u­at­ing what can we bring in as new tech­nol­ogy. So for ex­am­ple can we do the ex­ist­ing project with 80% on-premise and then off­load the rest to the cloud.

When we do some­thing new we are try­ing to bring as much new and fu­ture ready tech­nol­ogy as pos­si­ble but of course we keep in pace with the ca­pa­bil­ity of the client to trans­form. We are help­ing in this trans­for­ma­tion, but you have to start where the client is to­day. There is no other way.

We just did the Sky Ger­many sports fa­cil­ity where they are do­ing foot­ball all over Ger­many and we cre­ated re­mote pro­duc­tion so they can do a pro­gram that switches from sta­dium to sta­dium with the op­er­a­tors all sit­ting in the main fa­cil­ity. We are work­ing with Sim­ply Live for a re­mote sys­tem in a box where you can do an en­tire live pro­duc­tion at a much lower price than the OB truck you needed be­fore. And this then gives you the abil­ity to do more con­tent with less money.

Our OB ve­hi­cles part­ner­ship with Akker­mans is also a sign that the OB area grows – this is a busi­ness we have done a lot in the past. In be­tween, we thought that this is a di­min­ish­ing busi­ness but we did not fo­cus so much on but it’s still there. Even with all the re­mote stuff there is still the need to go there and have equip­ment on site. In gen­eral, re­gard­less of how you trans­mit, the over­all amount of video con­sump­tion is grow­ing. A big por­tion of the con­tent is live events – be it mu­sic or sport and so there is still money and busi­ness is grow­ing in the OB area.

That’s why we are fo­cus­ing also on OB vans and since one year we have con­stant work on OB vans. Its real phys­i­cal en­gi­neer­ing work and me­chan­ics while at the same time work­ing on cloud to vir­tu­alise the busi­ness. So there is a broad­ness of scope that we are deal­ing with at Qvest in our daily busi­ness.

WE WOULD LIKE TO PRO­VIDE A COM­PRE­HEN­SIVE END TO END SO­LU­TION THAT OF COURSE MAKES USE OF LOT OF THE OPEN SOURCE TOOLS THAT HAVE BE­COME THE DE FACTO STAN­DARD IN CLOUD, AND TO IN­TE­GRATE THEM INTO ONE PLAT­FORM, AND THEN TO ADD THE ME­DIA SPE­CIFIC FUNC­TION­AL­ITY ON TOP OF IT.

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