To be successful, media and broadcast infrastructure must function like a well-oiled machine. All parts of it need to communicate effectively. This requirement for system fluency is now more important than ever, as workflows increasingly become composites of many separate solutions. From a technology perspective, integrating different solutions from multiple vendors can be challenging, as they don’t necessarily speak the same language.
This blog post is the first in a series exploring the importance of effective integration and implementation in the media workflow. We’ll start the series by considering the challenges that organisations face as they try to achieve system fluency in a complex broadcast landscape.
The right combination
Gone are the days when a media company will settle for an end-to-end solution that is capable of managing everything but excels at nothing. Now, organisations want to use the tools that meet their own specific requirements, at each stage of their workflow. Integrating these separate parts is more complicated than just bolting solutions together. It can be a hugely challenging process for a number of reasons.
Solutions that are developed by different vendors might not speak the same language and can have compatibility issues. This is where APIs come in, API documentation should help to link solutions together and allow content to flow through the media chain. But without a comprehensive understanding of how different systems work, there is a danger of miscommunication. If systems are not integrated correctly, user requests get lost in translation.
From media storage and metadata, right through to VOD packaging and playout, each of the separate elements that make up a media workflow represent a role. Both in the literal sense of content managers, editors, and operators, but also in a technological one as well. Everyone and everything within a media organisation will need to be integrated effectively, because each stage feeds on from the next. That’s all very well, but how can you achieve this high level of fluency throughout the workflow?
There are three critical elements:
1. Requirements: Firstly, it’s critical to understand and define what users need from every stage of the workflow. Requests placed on media infrastructure by different users and teams throughout post-production are varied and complex. The needs of an editor for example are different to the needs of a media operator working in localisation, but both must access a MAM. If the system can’t properly understand the user request or can’t access the requisite metadata, it becomes frustrating for users and will cause delays and inefficiency.
2. Expertise: Secondly, a knowledge of requirements needs to be combined with a comprehensive understanding of technology, systems, and infrastructure – their capabilities and their limitations. It’s a mix of years spent experiencing common system challenges and reacting appropriately, as well as the latest insights into technological developments and cloud engineering. Combining the old and the new to best effect. But this expertise also needs to be focused on broadcast architecture and not just corporate IT infrastructure.
3. Integration – Thirdly, there needs to be a deep understanding of how APIs function. On the face of it a solution may seem to tick all the right boxes, but when implemented it could be completely inadequate and cause all manner of issues for your users. It takes careful planning, full examination of API documentation, testing, and system maintenance to ensure that the unique combination of technology is suitable and practical. Speaking this language fluently requires both a high level of integration proficiency and the ability to respond dynamically. Integrators need to assess build requirements and if too much customisation is needed, know when it’s time for a rethink.
7fivefive provide cloud engineering expertise for the media and broadcast industry. We have just the right blend of technical, business, and industry expertise to help you navigate your way through an increasingly complex ecosystem of broadcast technology. We speak the language of integration to help you achieve system fluency. Get in touch to find out more.