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The background story - and Return on Investment

The media industry has made many significant changes over the last few decades. For example, increasingly powerful computers have allowed non-linear editing to speed up the way we work. The MXF standard has enabled file based workflows to replace the broadcast systems that use tape. But we still use system architectures that connect the program making tools in a linear manner.

This way of building broadcast systems offers very little flexibility without unplugging one device and plugging in a new one. The system is not easily scalable or able to adapt to new requirements. So if a change is achieved at all, it usually comes at a significant expense in manpower and equipment - and in disruption to the daily operation of a facility.

MINIMUM FINANCIAL RISK

But to keep up with the rapidly changing demand from consumers, our industry needs to move more quickly now. When a new business opportunity appears it must be possible to propose a project plan, calculate the Return on Investment (ROI) and make a decision on how to proceed.

Of course, it is often difficult to accurately calculate the Return but the financial risk is lower if the Investment is minimized. And this is where FIMS promises to provide help.

Outside of the broadcast industry, there is an approach to system architecture that is well known and proven. This is the Service Orientated Architecture (SOA) and it works on a very different basis to traditional "hard wired" systems. Each process (Ingest or Transcoding are good broadcast examples) is treated as a "service" which can be called upon when needed. None of the program making processes are connected permanently to a user and any process that is not in use is available to others.

WHAT THE FUTURE HOLDS

Imagine that a new mobile device becomes available to consumers and it requires the video to be delivered in a file format that you do not use at present. You might wish to deliver several of your networks to this type of device but don’t want to purchase more equipment than you need. If the transcoder to create the new video format was easily available to all your networks you would not need to buy one for each but could share the resource. This would minimize the investment needed to deliver the business requirement. FIMS already has a standard agreed for the allocation and control of transcoders.

Of course, a sophisticated method of sharing resources requires a control layer to provide "orchestration" and ensure that the correct task operates for the correct user at the correct time. "Business rules" provide overall control and also set, for example, who has access to which services and the priority level for each user. This is also part of the FIMS project.

OTHER BUSINESS BENEFITS

But improvement in the efficient use of resources is not the only goal for the FIMS project. By agreeing to a common communication standard for a wide range of "services" it becomes possible to access valuable business information. For example, logging when a program or clip is played out, it becomes possible to track the effect on royalties.

To drive the FIMS initiative forward, contributions are being made by media companies who bring end user requirements and priorities, and vendors who bring the experience of delivering technology solutions. Together these make an effective partnership that is focused on improving the media industry through practical steps. As an example, the first projects defined interoperability standards for Ingest, Transcode and Transfer of material. Projects currently underway focus on content repository and quality analysis.

In summary, the adoption of a SOA based system using a media Framework for Interoperable Services delivers a system architecture which allows cost effective use of resources, flexibility and the means to quickly and efficiently adapt to changing media consumer requirements.

For further reading on the FIMS project, please use the More Resources button on the Quick Links to the right or visit the Projects page to discover the services being developed.

AMWA website EBU website