As media ecosystems have grown in complexity, the task of monitoring and managing them has become increasingly more complex and more urgent. The barriers around the well-understood broadcast industry walled garden have been dismantled as the industry has embraced IP technologies
on one hand and needed to chase audiences onto mobile devices and into the SVOD arena on the other. As a result, previous traditional broadcast SLAs that were once standard, have been replaced by new agreements that operate at different failure tolerances suited to their IT/MEDIA infrastructure.
The efforts to bootstrap these systems up to broadcast standards have been huge. They have also been necessary. IP networks are increasingly used in all parts of the broadcast value chain, from acquisition through production and onto distribution. The introduction of new remote-based workflows as a direct result of the Covid-19 pandemic is only accelerating this transition, while the mass market deployment of new technologies such as 5G will add further fuel to an already combustible fire.
Effective monitoring of these rapidly evolving networks is crucial for business success. Downtimes involving blank screens or network outages leading to significant rebuffering are widely publicized and the organizations involved suffer considerable reputational damage. Effective monitoring mitigates against this by offering predictive intervention, identifying points of potential failure before they
break, while also offering the key benefits of maximizing equipment uptime, an important consideration given the globally connected 24/7 media environment.
Media monitoring via Network Management Systems (NMS), is a competitive market, however, and companies looking to deploy a solution need to weigh up the pros and cons of different systems to arrive at the best fit for their own individual use cases. This paper briefly outlines 8 crucial attributes to look for in any current NMS solution. By ensuring that all these boxes are ticked, media organizations can be assured that they have the effective solution for the ongoing and future needs: an end to-end platform that provides monitoring, management, and control in a way that is simple, powerful, and scalable.
The modern workplace is one of the interlocking responsibilities where silos are rightly considered barriers to efficiency and optimization. In that spirit, any effective NMS is one that should also be able to be used by non-technical staff and be able to be accessed by anyone in the company.
Typically, this will mean presenting the large amount of data that is being collected by the solution in a browser-based interface so it can be viewed on-site and remotely. The data also needs to be presented in a way that is comprehensible to non-technical staff, making full use of graphical elements such as dashboards, maps, and diagrams.
When combined together, this helps reduce complexity for broadcasters and other media organizations by giving them a single interface with which they can swiftly ascertain the health of their network and identify any current and potential problems.
Time is money and a precious resource in short supply in today’s industry. As well as being easy to use, an NMS needs to be swift to deploy no matter the size and complexity of the network. Ideally, the configuration of the monitoring solution needs to be as automatic as possible; this allows processes such as network scan and unit discovery to take place as swiftly as possible. Look for solutions that also select the appropriate driver from a built-in library, further accelerating the process. These should also be configured with automatic alerts and notifications, allowing the monitoring system to start operating immediately without any manual configuration being required.
SaaS deployments, when offered as an option, should be the speediest of all as no additional hardware is required for their operation.
SaaS is an important option for many users as it provides the well-documented advantages of a cloud-based solution — scalability and the move towards an OPEX cost base as highlights — alongside increased visibility into TCO (Total Cost of Ownership).
The key here, whether on-prem or in the cloud, is flexibility and the ability for organizations to be able to adapt their NMS to meet the evolving needs of their networks without incurring penalties. A structured licensing system can help with this, allowing organizations to scale as and when required based on the total number of devices monitored, especially if add-ons can also be deployed when needed to provide additional functionality, increased levels of redundancy, and more.
Clear visibility into costs as exemplified by initiatives such as open driver policies mean that there are no hidden punitive financial considerations to be wary of, allowing organizations to deploy their monitoring and control with confidence.
Any NMS should be fully scalable, enabling it to serve users who operate on smaller, local infrastructures all the way up to the globe-spanning networks that interconnect and power the world’s biggest media organizations. Crucially, it should be able to transition between those two states as well, growing with user needs as business evolves.
As part of the architecture that enables this, redundancy needs to be built in as well. Solutions, for example, should be built around a minimum of two separate nodes on independent hosts, either physical or virtual, to ensure complete redundancy at both the hardware and software levels. This, especially if both are run in parallel in an active/pas- sive model, ensures seamless switching in case of problems.