Is broadcast equipment in your facilities integrated with the corporate network? The debate continues.

In today’s broadcast systems with ingest video servers and VoIP, most organizations are now working with two IT groups, BITS, (Broadcast Information Technology Service) and the Corporate IT.  Because broadcast engineers deal with communications for broadcast, they have to deal with both groups. The virus and cyber attack problem is the big issue with both groups and they both have different technology to deal with it. This was a debate recently in a LinkedIn discussion group.

Many broadcast engineers feel Corporate IT has little knowledge of broadcasting and can make mistakes that would take the station off air. They want  to keep them away from Avid’s too. The IT people often don’t like it because they can’t look into the broadcast side and address issues to keep the systems uniform. Some complaints include corporate Anti-Virus slowing the PC’s and the Mac’s down; the admin policies slow the engineers down and IT admins are generally used to supporting Windows, Outlook and Blackberries and just can’t cope with edit suites and video servers, absolute deadlines such as a live transmission.

Content creators often need access to the Internet. They work from home and plug-in USB and other storage devices, etc. Yes, by keeping them off the on-air network, it minimizes the threat that playout (also ingest) systems will be hit and affected by an attack.  Separate networks do provide the broadcast infrastructure with the necessary resilience and isolation for reliable 24/7 operation. However, this network separation need not preclude IT people maintaining the broadcast network, alongside broadcast engineers maintaining the broadcast equipment attached to that network. As the desire to include more video from the broadcast infrastructure on the corporate network grows, IPTV encoding equipment provides a useful bridge to get video from broadcast equipment onto the corporate network.

There is nothing wrong with building separate networks to a common standard. If all the networks in the facility are built and configured in a common manner, it will reap rewards in the long run. It may be necessary to invest in IPS/IDS (Intrusion Prevention/Detection Service) devices.  They are expensive but are you willing to risk a hit during a critical broadcast? As the networks in your facility will all be mission-critical, it makes sense to integrate the configuration and monitoring into the global scheme.

We all understand that there are issues, but there is frankly a lack of in-depth knowledge in most corporate IT departments about the true demands of isochronous media. Similarly there is a lack of knowledge in the traditional broadcast camp about modern IT approaches.

There is no escaping that the convergence touted for so many a year is with us, however, the mindset of IT versus Broadcast doesn’t allow them to naturally play together; they have to learn. Ultimately it all needs to be mashed together as the duplication of resources and expenditure is inefficient to say the least. Convergence is here to stay, “Broadcast” and “IT” people need to talk more and understand each other’s needs. There is much more to professional media than security from virus’s, and not all Ethernet ports are created equal.

Richard Neuman is a broadcast facilities consultant with owner’s rep firm Relocation Management Solutions.  Neuman is former General Manager of NYC’s Times Square Studios and Vice President of Broadcasting, Facilities and Technology at News Broadcast Network.

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