Cloud

Microservices help make live production quicker and more efficient in the cloud

By Greg de Bressac, vice president of sales, APAC at Grass Valley.

The rapid evolution of media industry and consumer expectation for stunning images and access across all screens, means today’s broadcasters must find more efficient ways to create a higher volume of first-class content.

Timescales to market are also compressing; from conception to launch for new services is now weeks or a few months, compared to the years it would have taken in the past. As consumer habits shift, services today must also evolve to keep pace and need to be able to spin-down as fast as they are spun up.

Virtualization and beyond

Today’s media organizations are now producing, ingesting and managing vast amounts of content to meet the huge demand from consumers; traditional broadcast architectures can no longer be relied on to handle this sharp uptick.

The move from CAPEX to OPEX and workflows virtualised on commodity hardware are steps in the right direction, delivering the flexibility to add and pay for additional capability and capacity as needed. A cloud-native, or microservices approach, is the next logical evolution, enabling broadcasters to make the necessary step change.

Microservices add greater degrees of inherent nimbleness to existing IT infrastructure, which is critical to shaping successful media businesses for the future. This approach also opens up new ways to build, maintain and operate services and provides the capacity to scale these services – up or down – in a very compressed time frame.

Taking live production to the cloud

Live production – and particularly live sports – is where the power of microservices has the potential to really come into its own. Leveraging microservices, capabilities can be fired up just before a game then be turned off after the final post-game analysis wraps up. In short, you are only paying while the infrastructure is in use.

Grass Valley has taken a cloud native approach, using a software as a service (SaaS) platform for live sports which we call Agile Media Processing Platform (GV AMPP). Using a SaaS approach enables broadcasters to easily transition to future-ready public, data center or hybrid infrastructures while directly addressing many of the issues that complicate common IP and cloud deployments, such as network connectivity, timing and ultra-low latency.

The microservices architecture is based on five core technologies — fabric, timing, connectivity, identity, and streaming, allowing events to be produced by teams in any location.

Our work with Activision Blizzard Esports is a prime example of how this technology allows live content producers to benefit from a new level of agility and flexibility. By leveraging AMPP, Blizzard was able to keep its Overwatch League and Call of Duty League matches live on air during public lockdown. The production crew was able to create customisable workflows in the cloud without having physical infrastructure in place – such as switchers or audio consoles.

A microservices architecture and SaaS approach shows how software and cloud-based production can open up new ways to build and operate services.

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