With LeapCloud, Deluxe Broadcast Services provides a completely new way of managing media assets, playout and distribution that significantly increases flexibility while reducing operating costs by at least 50%.
This private cloud-based service enables cost-effective delivery of SD and HD channels over IP to any platform, anywhere in the world, with no need for costly satellite and dedicated fibre distribution. It lets broadcasters set up a linear TV channel in as little as a week and manage multiple regional versions of content with ease.
To ensure the security, resilience, performance and uptime that broadcasters demand, Deluxe co-locates its LeapCloud infrastructure with Interxion.
The pivotal role that Deluxe has played in the entertainment industry for almost a century means it has witnessed – and been part of – both gradual evolutions and radical shifts in how content is produced, distributed and consumed.
IT and our increasingly connected world have driven many of the most recent changes: people are as likely to watch films and TV programmes over the Internet and on mobile devices as on their televisions. Content increasingly originates in digital form. Producers and broadcasters are moving from tape-based to digital workflows. And new standards have been agreed for transporting and distributing broadcast video over IP networks.
At the same time, cloud is losing its mystique and rapidly becoming the norm for organisations that want access to flexible computing capacity without capital investment – outsourcing of sensitive content and critical applications to third-party-provided clouds is becoming increasingly acceptable.
Building on all these trends and developments, Deluxe has developed LeapCloud – a next-generation media
asset management, playout and delivery platform based on a private cloud infrastructure. The platform
brings together non-proprietary IT technologies and state-of-the-art media tools to set new standards for how content owners and broadcasters engage with and deliver their content.
Faster to market, faster to revenues
“LeapCloud effectively turns the old way of doing things on its head,” said Alec Stichbury, CTO at Deluxe Broadcast Services. “Broadcasters have traditionally owned and operated all their own systems in-house, including proprietary hardware and the mechanical and engineering infrastructure that supports it. That’s tended to make it difficult and expensive to launch new services, upgrade to HD, migrate to tapeless workflows or set up and dismantle pop-up channels quickly.”
LeapCloud solves those challenges by transforming from a capital-intensive model involving investment in broadcast hardware to a scalable, opex-based model. The service delivers live linear TV and content services as a platform that broadcasters can access and use in much the same way as if they owned and operated it themselves, but without any capital investment.
Broadcasters can serve channels – ranging from simple thematic ones, through to much more complex ones that require insertions such as breaking news, live events or subtitles – at the highest quality to any platform. Customers of the service can manage their TV network from anywhere in the world using a secure web browser and a network connection. Alternatively, they can access the service via a dedicated, resilient network connection. A simple live linear channel can be ready to air in a week and multi-channel and multi-regional launches are also very quick – accelerating penetration of new markets and audience groups, enabling full exploitation of rights for brands and major events and shortening the time to revenue.
“LeapCloud enables significant operational efficiencies and cost savings,” said Stichbury. “Broadcasters have comprehensive visibility of their assets and channel outputs, giving them extensive control over their inventory and greater playout flexibility.”
A secure, resilient data centre environment is fundamental
As Stichbury pointed out, however, none of this would be possible without a reliable data centre partner whose facilities deliver the security, resilience, uptime, power and connectivity that underpin the entire service. Deluxe has chosen to co-locate its LeapCloud infrastructure with Interxion. Stichbury explained why: “When we did our research, Interxion came out head and shoulders above everyone else. Its award-winning, accredited data centres offer redundant power and cooling, multiple layers of security and the sustainability features our customers expect. It also gives us plenty of capacity to scale our installations or expand to other European locations.” He continued: “In addition to operational excellence, Interxion also has a dedicated digital media team who understood what we wanted to achieve and were ready and able to support us.”
The LeapCloud infrastructure is hosted at Interxion data centres in London and Amsterdam, connected by
diversely routed fibre supplied by different connectivity providers for maximum resilience. The architecture is designed to eliminate outages by delivering an N+N active/active broadcast playout model that provides comprehensive disaster recovery and automated seamless switching to an alternative path or site in the event of a problem.
“For most broadcasters operating wholly owned, proprietary systems, disaster recovery is something of
an unaffordable luxury because of the cost of duplicating equipment and skillsets,” said Stichbury.
“With LeapCloud, disaster recovery is an integral part of the solution, supported by our data centre partner’s multiple locations.”
Carrier-neutrality helps optimise cost and performance
In addition to ensuring the right co-location environment for the service, Interxion also provides access to a wide choice of connectivity partners for content ingest and distribution, thanks to its carrier-neutrality. Interxion is home to all the main fibre-based media contribution network providers and to a growing community of satellite service providers, facilitating content acquisition.
Interxion data centres sit on the main highways of the Internet, enabling Deluxe to optimise the cost and performance of content distribution by selecting from a broad range of IP carriers, ISPs and CDNs to deliver content from the LeapCloud platform to broadcast and IPTV head-ends, or ‘over the top’ directly to the increasing numbers of consumers watching via the Internet and on mobile devices.
Focusing on what matters
Since the launch of LeapCloud at NAB Show 2013, over 20 broadcasters and content owners are already using it for playout and media asset management. Deluxe foresees strong growth in customer numbers over the near term owing to the capabilities and year-on-year cost savings the platform has demonstrated it can deliver.
Among LeapCloud’s customers is one of the world’s largest sports rights–holders that relies on the service’s delivery and MCR capabilities to manage secure contribution and distribution of high-quality broadcast streams globally over low-cost IP connectivity. It took just 30 days to commission and deliver the service to five sites, with many more in the pipeline. The customer is benefitting from significant cost savings compared with traditional infrastructure and enhanced visibility of all of its global streams.
“With Interxion as our data centre partner, we’re confident we have the optimum environment for the LeapCloud platform,” said Stichbury. “Working with Interxion gives us the peace of mind to concentrate on our core business of providing broadcast services, while they take care of everything else.”
The service is based on a non-proprietary, distributed IT-centric platform housed in multiple Interxion data centres. It’s available as a complete outsourced broadcast playout solution, or on a flexible PaaS basis so that customers can mix and match the elements they need. The service interoperates with all the Deluxe services that support traditional broadcasting, giving broadcasters full control over the end-to-end workflow.
There are four elements to the service:
- Portal. A comprehensive orchestration and digital asset management system presented through a web browser. Functionality includes search, browse, EDL generation, spot check, temporal metadata annotation, content and schedule tracking to manage TX readiness, and remote channel monitoring
- PortaLive. A suite of tools for monitoring, controlling and recording (MCR) the entire contribution and/or distribution network within a web-based environment. It can manage any number of live feeds and group virtual routing clusters for brands, genres, operational needs and so on
- Playout. A software-centric, scalable, resilient and feature-rich playout platform that’s accessible globally. It can deliver any type of channel from the simplest linear to the most complex arrangement and can handle live event and subtitle insertion, complex graphic event scheduling with voice overs and social media interactivity
- Delivery. A suite of tools for transporting premium broadcast streams reliably and securely across almost any network topology – including the public Internet – with high levels of service quality, security and reporting. It includes the ability to hand off to traditional satellite and fibre distribution networks as ASI, IP and SDI/HD-SDI interfaces