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Making the complex simple

By Simen K. Frostad, Chairman

Published in SCTE Journal September/October 2016


You probably saw the news in June: a federal court in the USA ruled that high speed internet access should be defined as a utility – affirming the US government’s view that broadband is as essential to people’s lives as power, water, telephony and so on.



That ruling will have many implications in terms of regulation – but just as importantly for us at Bridge Technologies, it confirms that ours is a vital business to be in. Our business is all about empowering operators and assuring network reliability and Quality.

What we provide are the tools that enable network managers and technicians to understand what’s going on. They fall – broadly – into two categories. Tools for analysing the network – and tools for making sense of that
analysis.

Two of those tools recently won prestigious awards. The first was from the IABM, where our VB440-V virtual probe won in the “Test, Quality Control & Monitoring” category.


Solving one of the big issues

What was it about the VB440-V that caught the judges’ eyes? Here’s what they said: “This product allows visibility into sophisticated network infrastructure, thereby solving one of the biggest issues for those trying to diagnose and fix complex network issues in a timely fashion.”

And that, in a nutshell, is precisely what it does. The VB440-V monitors high density data traffic in core networks, enabling users to quickly rectify problems affecting quality. What makes it unique, though, is that it is the first product of its type to become available that addresses two issues of significant concern to broadcasters.

The first of these is the transition to higher network speeds: it supports dual 40 Gigabit Ethernet interfaces. The second is that it supports SDIoIP - a key feature for broadcasters who are making the sometimes painful transition from SDI to IP. It is also the first product to feature SMPTE2022.7 dual redundant stream analysis.

It’s also remarkably straightforward to implement: it can be installed almost instantly on any standard high-performance server blade to allow rapid scaling of capacity.


Revolutionary


From those points of view, it can be considered to be a revolutionary product – but the real revolution is the absolute precision with which the VB-440V can monitor data flows. That’s what you get when you have the brilliant engineers that we have.

It’s all very well being able to monitor a network and gather huge amounts of data, like the VB440-V does. But for that data to be useful, it needs to be turned, in real time, into actionable information. At Bridge Technologies, we live by the philosophy that we’re in the business of making complex things simple - and that’s where our second award-winning product comes in.

‘Highly commended’ in the ‘Best monitoring or network management solution’ category of the CSI Awards at a presentation at IBC this year, and winner of the Broadcast Beat ‘Innovation in Content Delivery’ award, also at IBC, the Remote Data Wall (RDW) allows those responsible for network monitoring and management to quickly and easily create a visual representation of network activity, enabling potential problems to be rapidly identified and appropriate corrective action taken.

In common with many of the solutions we’ve developed in the last few years, RDW acknowledges that, with the rapid expansion in networks, not everyone who is responsible for them has yet achieved the high level of experience and expertise that characterised network operations management when it was a much smaller industry. In industries like broadcast, for example, the transition to IP is a relatively recent phenomenon.


Making sense of data

What RDW does is to make it easy to make sense of the data. It does this in several ways. First: although RDW can comprise a number of screens in a videowall-type configuration (it can, in fact, be on virtually any number of screens from one upwards), it doesn’t need videowall specialist hardware or skills to install and configure it.

Second: because it’s HTML5/browser-based, it can be viewed from anywhere. The user doesn’t need to be in the data centre: he/she could be looking from home, or a hotel room.

And third: it provides a graphical representation of whatever data the user wants to see. A graphical representation is, of course, far more intuitive than plain text, for example, and can immediately highlight issues or potential problems, enabling corrective action to be taken faster.

Even better: RDW allows the inclusion of data from a wide variety of sources - from third-party systems, for example, and external information sources such as weather stations, personnel management systems and so on. Any relevant information that may impact how the network is managed can be displayed.

It seems strange to think that, not so many years ago, a 28.8kbit/s dial-up connection was, for many, an unaffordable luxury. Now, we take speeds of 10Mbit/s and upward for granted – just like we take it for granted that water will flow from the tap, or electricity will come from the socket. At Bridge Technologies, we like to think our award-winning products are playing a key role in enabling the same reliability in our networks that we expect from our water supply or our power supply. 




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