Leading Broadcasters Discuss Challenges and Strategies at Recent Pebble Beach Systems Customer Advisory Event

Industry thoughts for 2018: Linear stays strong, IP marches on, virtualization and security issues dominate thinking
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Weybridge, UK and Broomfield, CO., USA, December 14th, 2017 - The annual Pebble Beach Systems customer advisory event was recently held in Amsterdam and was well attended by a veritable who’s who of broadcasters and content distributors. Topics ranged from the health of linear workflows, the latest IP challenges, and of course virtualization, the cloud and security. Pebble enjoyed record order intake in the first half of 2017 and a significant number of new customers from new territories were in attendance as a result. All attendees agreed that 2018 promises to be an interesting year as key concerns and trends continue to emerge and evolve.

Whilst the industry is clearly changing and new delivery and consumption models become ever more popular, over 80% of attendees stated that their facilities will still be delivering linear channels for at least the next 7 years (with almost half asserting that this will hold true for the next 10 years plus). A focus on resilient, agile and scalable playout solutions which can evolve as organizations embrace emerging technologies was a key focus for the group.

What does 2018 hold for broadcasters?

2018 is predicted to be a further year of change and consolidation for the industry as IP infrastructures are deployed in greater volume, even as many of the relevant standards are still being defined. Almost 100% of attendees confirmed they would implement an IP infrastructure for any new build-outs, and the majority of them expect their facility to be software only and running in a virtual environment, i.e., non-hardware, within the next 7 years. However, whilst broadcasters are increasingly tempted by playout from the cloud, the business benefit of playing out high value commercial channels from the public cloud still remains to be proven.

Vendors must work together

The relevance of best-of-breed solutions from specialist companies in the playout chain remains high as the industry moves inexorably away from bespoke hardware solutions.

“The future is all about software that is portable and ‘plays well with others’, says Pebble CTO Ian Cockett. “I believe that customers should be able to choose the best-of-breed tools they need, and it’s the vendors’ collective job to make sure everything works well together, whether in a single box, or in the cloud”.

Pebble’s strategy to offer best-of-breed technologies within a pure software environment was praised, while attendees acknowledged that standards for interoperability between vendors working on common platforms, whether in the cloud or on premises, were still missing, creating a hindrance to more widespread adoption.

Virtualization and the Cloud

When discussing future channel expansion, be it long or short term, all attendees stated that cloud platforms and virtualized platforms are now major consideration. Live, and more challenging channels types, have until now been out of reach, but with new low-latency monitoring available, any playout workflow is up for consideration.

On the subject of cloud security, attendees identified the following as the biggest concerns when considering security in virtualized playout in 2018:

  • Unauthorized remote access
  • External hacking
  • Ability to recover from system meltdown
  • Network security

Most attendees agreed however, that the security infrastructure available from professional cloud service providers was beyond what any of them could provide on the ground with their own staff.

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