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SatBroadcasting™: The Academy Approach
by Martin Crawley, Bridge Technologies

Digital media operations are the wild frontier. With the hybrid of technologies involved in delivering media to the TV-anywhere audience, and the continual rapid evolution of platforms, formats and business models, there’s little chance that any digital media operation will stand still for long.

CrawleyFig1 This rolling revolution means that, industry-wide, there’s no base of traditional skills and know-how to apply to the task of planning, building and maintaining digital media operations. Technical personnel with broadcast knowledge are only partly equipped, as are experts in the IT/IP domain. Hybrid delivery chains encompass both sets of skills, and some new ones as well. Because one thing that broadcasters and telcos realize quickly when they enter into the digital media game is that the whole is much more complicated than the sum of its parts.

There are many reasons for this. Without going into a great deal of detail, it’s the interaction between the broadcast and IP domains that throws up new situations and problems that neither IT experts nor broadcast engineers will have previously encountered. Add to that the continual evolution of the technology and this means that the standards for monitoring parameters are, in many cases, outdated, leaving ambiguities that can lead to misunderstandings about the really important parameters for digital media monitoring in the real world.

It’s for these reasons that, since its inception, Bridge Technologies has recognized the importance of training and a sustained initiative to educate the industry about monitoring and analysis in the hybrid media world. A large part of this effort is, of course, dedicated to in-depth training on the VideoBRIDGE system, but that in itself would not be completely effective as a sound understanding of the context in which the tools are deployed is almost as important.

The background of Bridge Technologies’ founders is in digital media delivery — the Company’s combined real-world experience in the field has revealed two important facts: That digital media delivery is a distinct world in and of itself, with its own rules and phenomena; and that knowledge and understanding of this world is scarce.

The recognition that media organizations — including Bridge’s own customers and business partners — often lacked the specialized knowledge the firm had acquired through commercial operations in the field. The organizations were, therefore, not in a good position to plan their monitoring strategies. Without such knowledge the organizations could not fully realize the capabilities and potential benefits offered by Bridge’s unique monitoring solution. This led to the establishment of the Bridgetech Academy.

The Academy aims to span the gap that exists between the broadcast and IP worlds — a solution provided by the VideoBRIDGE system itself. A media organization may always need its broadcast engineers, and its IT/IP specialists, but in a hybrid delivery system, it’s a distinct weakness if those two groups know nothing of each other’s territory.

CrawleyFig2 Part of what is targeted to achieve with Academy courses is an understanding that spans broadcast and IP, with enough common knowledge for a broadcast engineer to understand what happens to the signal when it passes through stages of IP transport, and for IP engineers to appreciate how to keep that broadcast signal in good condition. In other words, when the data moves from broadcast domain to IP transport stream (and possibly back again), the new breed of engineer should feel quite happy crossing that threshold, as well.

Armed with this knowledge, Academy graduates should be in a good position to help their organizations plan the best possible monitoring strategy. There is no one-size-fits-all approach to this: The diversity of operating models and variety of legacy infrastructure ensures that any two organizations will have quite different requirements. However, with the correct background knowledge and expertise gained through the courses, anyone should be able to make the right fundamental decisions about network topologies, monitoring points, integration with high-level facility management systems, and so on.

The pace of development being what it is, there’s always a new technology for our customers and business partners to come to grips with — Bridge Technologies has always pursued an aggressive product development schedule that results in new features and functionality with every release. It’s important that Bridge’s customers and business partners are kept abreast of these improvements. 

The Company also has to recognize that, in the real world, organizations are subject to continual change, and certainly media companies are no exception. With infrastructure project cycles often lasting more than 12 months, and sometimes running into years, a great deal of time can elapse between the decision to buy, the design and deployment phase, and the launch of day-to-day operations. At any point along the way, changes of management or personnel can mean that expertise in the organization is lost. As it takes both tools and expertise to get the job done, the Academy serves a vital purpose in ensuring a continuity of knowledge.

Customers also can use the Academy to train new staff as they are recruited. This serves the dual purpose of acting as a rolling training update program as the technology develops and new features and functionality are added — all of which need to be understood and integrated into the customer’s monitoring and analysis operation.

Until recently, the Academy ran their courses either at Bridgetech’s Oslo base, or on the customer’s premises. Now Bridge is expanding on that by adding additional methods of training to better fit in with our partners’ needs and availability. More use of webinars, either in one-to-one or one-to-many sessions, are planned. Additionally, the training will be modularised in order for users and partners to tailor the training session to fit their exact needs. Regular on-line briefing sessions will be added to ensure users remain up-to-date regarding new features, and tracking tools will be added to maintain profiles of individual training delegates — such will enable Bridge to further target training course and keep partners current.
About the author
Martin Crowley is a senior product manager at Bridge Technologies and the Head of the Bridge Academy

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About Bridge Technologies
Bridge Technologies was founded by a team of people with solid backgrounds from the broadcast, telecommunications and media industries. With deep knowledge of the marketplace and industrial product development, Bridge Technology products have been deployed in a large number of networks worldwide.

CrawleyFig3 The Company's main focus is the area between the broadcast and telecommunications spheres. Bridge Technology systems is acting as a facilitator between the two, giving equal access and a common paradigm of understanding media flow from two different perspectives.

The dramatic drop in cost of bandwidth, storage and processing power is changing everything in the networking space. Bridge Technologies is working to make these technical advances also benefit content production in the television and video industries. Conversely, broadband network operators see benefits in moving into the multiservice offerings of telephony, Internet, mobility and television. Bridge Technologies is working to make this transition as seamless as possible for operators. Bridge Technologies Co AS is a privately held company with headquarters in Oslo, Norway, and has worldwide sales and marketing operations through business partners in the European, U.S. and Asian markets.