Radio automation and TV audio playout leader ENCO has virtualized the automation core for RadiOhio’s radio network, deploying an ENCO1 server to reduce footprint, costs and complexity for the Columbus, Ohio broadcaster’s two radio stations (WBNS-AM-FM).
ENCO1 is a fault-tolerant virtualized system with a unique specification for radio automation environments. Its highly reliable and scalable design replaces many disparate workstations and servers across a facility, leveraging IP audio technologies to operate virtualized ENCO DAD automation systems.
For RadiOhio, the long-time ENCO DAD customer had been seeking a way to streamline costs and operations across its six studios and four edit suites. The broadcaster centralized its DAD workstations in master control a few years back and ran KVM extensions into each studio, however the architecture proved less reliable and efficient than expected. Since transitioning to ENCO1, the network has enjoyed a true simplification of infrastructure and operations, eliminating bulky studio hardware, redundant power supplies, and reducing 25RU of rack space to 4RU in the technical core.
“On a purely operational level, ENCO1 eliminated the performance issues we were having with keyboard, mouse and touchscreen responsiveness across the KVM architecture,” said Greg Armstrong, Director of Engineering for WBNS-AM-FM, RadiOhio. “But the beauty of what ENCO1 offers is complete duplication of our automation operation across the entire facility, due to a fully redundant, fault-tolerant server. And we envision a considerable long-term cost savings given the longer life span and lower replacement costs of a thin client versus hardware-based workstations. ENCO appears to be well ahead of the curve in terms of virtualizing radio automation.”
Armstrong estimates saving up to thousands of dollars with each upgrade, noting an approximate $300 per thin client upgrade versus over $1000 per workstation across 10 locations. The ENCO1 thin client operates as a static remote desktop application, enabling a longer lifecycle and centralizing RAM and processing power increases to the ENCO1 server core. From a feature standpoint, Armstrong cites the command structure as particularly useful to his operation. “The command cuts on the back end of ENCO1, and its logical features, are extremely robust,” said Armstrong. “Its ability to communicate in various forms and send GPIO, serial, UDP and other commands between all machines over the same networked architecture brings outstanding flexibility, along with its ability to allow us to seamlessly transition between various satellite networks. We can set up the playlists and the commands under a time structure, and ENCO1 automatically loads the content and routes switching and logic commands into the IP audio network. By and large it’s engineered to run flawlessly to the point where we can straight up leave the building.”