Nevion Shares Two Keys to IP Infrastructure: Architecture and Control

Nevion connect

In their new white paper, 'Architecture and control— the two keys to IP infrastructure success in broadcast', Nevion explains two critical aspects of IP systems that broadcasters can use to take the best advantage of their IP infrastructure investment - how the IP network is designed and architected from the ground up, and how the new network is controlled.

Getting the IP network architecture right from the outset is fundamental to a successful implementation that keeps broadcast in place as the ultimate goal. The ways in which equipment and components are connected to the main routers can make all the difference in ensuring everything can communicate and operate seamlessly without any issues.

Many broadcasters considering a move to IP seek to increase productivity, expect IP infrastructure to be cheaper than broadcast baseband systems and are attracted to the potential to carry media, control and data all via the same network, generating savings through economies of scope that baseband does not have.

Remote, Shared and Automated

While broadcasters may anticipate a like-for-like network replacement of baseband with IP, according to Nevion, IP involves much more than imitating existing baseband networks. The VRT/EBU LiveIP project in 2015-2016, the first practical demonstration of using a multi-vendor all IP environment for live production, showed that IP enables 'remote, shared and automated' workflows.  

IP brings the opportunity to harmonize local and long-distance media networks on a single, converged IP local and wide area network. This makes it much easier to share equipment, studios and control rooms and production staff across locations, resulting in further savings and production flexibility. Nevion believes this is the opportunity broadcasters need to seize.

Nevion architecture control1

Because it is important to understand how signals flow through the network in order to satisfy broadcast requirements, network architecture cannot be totally dissociated from control. first The white paper describes in detail three primary architecture layouts that are typically used in broadcasting, and recommends one of these layouts that is significantly better-suited to broadcast operations. Second, it explains two main ways of controlling how signals and connections are routed in an IP network - automatic routing and software defined networking.

Network Architecture

Regarding architecture, the tendency for most broadcasters is to adopt a straightforward, centralized star network, which is very consistent with the traditional baseband architecture but includes no signal aggregation at the edge – all signals need to travel to the central router.

Dual star architecture uses two spine routers, but each component in the network is only connected to one spine, and therefore the design lacks flexibility regarding load distribution and optimization of total network capacity.

Finally, while a true spine-leaf layout looks a lot more complicated to implement, with many more connections running from one point to another, Nevion finds this layout has a number of advantages, including flexibility and scalability. By connecting all the equipment in each area to aggregating leaf routers, and then connecting these to the main routers, fewer connections need to go directly to the main routers. The spine-leaf architecture makes it easier to build redundancy into the network for all devices, and at a much lower cost.  

Nevion architecture control3

Decisions on Control

Control and orchestration of the IP media network connect, and switch between, sources and destinations  at a fast pace. The type of control employed in an IP network can either enhance or restrict its agility and flexibility.

Automatic routing relies on the protocols that typical IP switches run that allow the network elements to make decisions about routing based on the IP traffic. This means that the decision of how to transport individual media flows across the network can be left to the network itself, rather than to the operator. Nevion explains the associated disadvantages of this system, ranging from performance, complex configuration, and loss of flexibility and security.

Software Defined Networking (SDN), on the other hand, is about taking the routing control away from the individual network elements, and placing it on a centralised control layer. Management and orchestration software holds a complete view of the available equipment, the network infrastructure and the services – that is, media flows – not just existing ones, but also those that are planned. As a result, it can make intelligent decisions on routing and controlling flows much more efficiently than with automatic routing and use path diversity for data protection.

Please find Nevion's full white paper available here in the White Papers section on the Digital Media World website.