SVG Europe Sit-Down: Aspera’s Richard Heitmann discusses IP for streaming and what the cloud can offer sports broadcasters

Richard Heitmann, VP Marketing, Aspera

Founded in 2004, and now part of IBM Software, Aspera is headquartered in Emeryville, California, with satellite offices in the United Kingdom, France and Singapore. To cope with the unstoppable explosion of Big Data in a world where IT and networking infrastructures are more diverse and flexible than ever, Aspera focuses on supplying innovative data transfer solutions that help organisations operate and collaborate more effectively on a global scale. A pioneer in the enablement of high-speed, data-intensive workflows throughout the enterprise, Aspera has unlocked the cloud for big data with high-performance digital transport, now available on demand.

SVG Europe’s Sit Down with VP Marketing, Richard Heitmann, commenced with some reflections from the recent NAB Show in Las Vegas…

The 2018 edition of the NAB Show finished recently. What were visitors to your stand most interested to talk about?

NAB presents the perfect opportunity to hear and discuss customer projects and explore trends disrupting the market first-hand. As consumer demand for content anywhere, anytime, and on any device continues to grow, media companies and content owners are constantly looking for new technologies and solutions to produce and exploit high-quality video on numerous platforms as quickly, reliably and cost efficiently as possible. This, including how to best leverage the cloud in all of its forms, was top of mind for visitors. 

New opportunities for video delivery, in particular live streaming, persist as a dominant discussion topic on the show floor. Cloud technology continues to drive change in digital processing pipelines. Simplifying media workflows through the cloud generates efficiencies and allows technical systems and internal workflows to operate harmoniously. 

During our previous Sit Down, it was mentioned that there were still misconceptions about the cloud. Is that still the case, and if so, what education is needed?

Companies are increasingly adopting the cloud given its many operational and financial benefits. The cloud has evolved to become an expected component in modern media workflows – in most cases, forming the foundation for seamless content creation, delivery and storage. The cloud also provides an effective solution to financial pressures by minimising upfront costs related to provisioning infrastructure and aligning operational costs with actual resource consumption. 

As you say, cloud adoption is increasing. When it comes to sports broadcasting, what solutions do you offer?

We are well-positioned to cater to the most demanding sports broadcast environments with new cloud solutions that securely deliver large content before, during and after events quicker than ever before. 

IBM Aspera on Cloud is a new hosted service that provides the fastest way to transfer and exchange content from any location, to anywhere and with anyone. IBM Aspera on Cloud overcomes the file transfer challenges of the hybrid cloud by allowing media companies to securely share and reliably move their content across on-premises and multi-cloud environments at unrivalled speed.

Where are we now with IP-based solutions for streaming?

The economics of streaming live broadcast-quality video content over IP networks are shifting, with new solutions that can support higher bit rates, higher reliability, lower latency and near-zero start up delays at dramatically lower costs.

The Aspera Streaming for Video solution, powered by FASPStream technology, allows live and near-live video streaming at the highest quality over commodity internet, even when facing difficult network conditions. The underlying technology of Aspera FASPStream can be easily embedded and accessed using its APIs. 

Let’s pursue that a little further. Combining Telestream’s Vantage and Lightspeed Live Capture with Aspera FASPStream technology has been recognised as a significant development. What makes this combination so special – especially with regards to sports programming?

FASPStream’s integration with Telestream Vantage and Lightspeed Live Capture enables high-speed capture and transport of live, broadcast-quality video from anywhere, which allows remote production teams to edit live video feeds in near real-time. The solution is critical in the extremely fast-turnaround and resource-intensive live sports production and offers an innovative approach to delivering broadcast-quality video streams from the venue to the remote production facility live.

Built upon the latest version of the IBM Aspera FASP protocol, FASPStream technology can transport any live multicast or unicast video source as it is being created or captured and allows access to the stream during the transfer process, rather than needing to wait until after the entire file has been written to disk.

With Aspera FASPStream technology, including end-to-end growing file support, seamlessly integrated into Vantage with Open Workflows, operators can now edit files in real-time in one location while they are being captured in a different location. All of this is done over unmanaged Internet with low latency and high quality, saving set-up time and money for remote event post production. Production crews do not need to be dispatched to the event location and the high cost of satellite and fibre connections is eliminated.

Transcoding, packaging, editing and other downstream workflows can start immediately, significantly shortening the production cycle and increasing the value of the produced content. Further, the end-point can have a range of hosting environments, including centralised on-premises, private or public cloud, and the streams can be written to multiple locations concurrently to aid in redundancy and business continuity.

Any future plans you’d like to share with us?

We continue to participate in SVG events, which are great for connecting us with our customers and partners and we are the proud Title sponsor of SVG Europe’s forthcoming SportTech event, where we will continue to evangelise the benefits of high-quality streaming over IP networks, and talk about our latest product innovations.

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