SDNsquare’s GRID provides IP modularity to the CTV OB Golf Truck

SDN square technology on the OB12 Gold Truck by CTV

Belgian media networking and storage company SDNsquare has collaborated with UK-based  CTV Outside Broadcasts (CTV OB) to entirely upgrade their latest OB Unit to a fully modular ST2110 IP-based infrastructure. The refurbished and IP-based OB12 truck hit the road in September 2020.

The company turned to SDNsquare and its GRID providing software-based IP network management and enabling a full non-blocking of converged IP networks with “guaranteed, predictable and reliable QoS”.

“The idea was initiated around the time of refurbishing one of our large SDI-based trucks,” explains Paul Francis, CTV’s chief technical officer. “The limitations of SDI infrastructures were apparent in their design, whilst according to research, IP promised flexibility could overcome almost every SDI constraint. IP technology would also need to support our client’s needs for the foreseeable future – capable of responding to changes in video formats, for example.” Francis further explains: “That initial intention turned into a project. Our parent company, Euro Media Group (EMG), launched the OBjective2020 project that would allow us to find partners supporting our migration to a fully IP-based infrastructure.”

CTV OB had two primary needs. The first was that the chosen technology architecture should be both future-proof and agnostic in terms of infrastructure and topology. The second was that those who would operate the system would need to be familiar with it: the operational and high level configuration should be presented as a system that is familiar to CTV’s engineers, whilst providing them with tools to diagnose any software and hardware related issues. The truck would need to be able to support CTV’s client’s needs for the foreseeable future – capable of responding to changes in video formats, for example – and be capable of scaling according to the client’s requirements.

“Along with the EMG OBjective2020 team’s aims, our project’s technical specification has transformed over the last two years alongside the development and accessibility of the technology provided by manufacturers,” Paul Francis continues. “From the necessity of 10GbE networks, to settling on 100GbE, from a pinnacle of SMPTE2022-6 to fully ST2110 systems, the network core has been ever-evolving. SDNsquare has played a central role in our choices, allowing us to choose equipment vendors that best suited our needs, integrating their technology into the SDN programming and advising closely on topology options and IP related configurations.”

SDNsquare GRID uses software-defined networking to deliver IP network orchestration for media. GRID can cope with all types of data streams in a predictable way. With GRID, IP data paths can be set up “without packet loss, with low latency and with the exact bandwidth needed”.

Henry Alexander, CEO of SDNsquare, expands on the technology benefits that the new IP-based OB12 truck has gained: “A random or flexible spine leaf topology means that, instead of adding a new device and extra Gb to the network, CTV OB can, for example, software split 100Gb into four 25Gb allocations or one 25Gb and leave the remaining 75Gb for further usage. This is called bandwidth management – and it’s patented by SDNsquare. The idea is to put everything – video, audio, intercom, management, KVM, office and Internet – on the same network, guaranteeing every single flow at the network switch level.”

“We are immensely proud of our newly refurbished OB12 truck that hit the road last week at the PGA European Tour” says Richard Morton, Head of Projects at CTV Outside Broadcasts. Morton adds: “It was really impressive to see everything working so smoothly. Nobody was really aware of the massive technology change. We look forward to the next chapter in our partnership with SDNsquare.”

Alexander concludes: “What we’ve done with SDNsquare is to package IP complexity into powerful but intuitive software tools. This has been an interesting project that allowed us to combine software intelligence with engineer and human infinite creativity.”

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