February 22, 2024

How swXtch.io Is Enabling Cloud Flow Monitoring for Broadcasters

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The transition of broadcasting into the cloud is like venturing into uncharted territory. Broadcasters, once masters of their domain with sophisticated toolkits for monitoring video and audio streams, now find themselves in an unfamiliar land, facing the challenges of adapting to a virtualized network landscape vastly different from the familiar on-premises environment. Moving into the cloud, while promising in terms of scalability and flexibility, introduces a significant gap in multicast support, fundamentally altering the approach to stream monitoring. And, so far, there hasn't been much of a map to guide the way.

Without multicast support, the tools and skillsets broadcasters have honed for on-prem monitoring don't directly translate to the cloud environment. They’re faced with a dual challenge of adapting to a new infrastructure while striving to maintain the high standards of broadcast quality their audiences expect.

In this blog, we’ll look at the intricacies of this transition when it comes to flow monitoring, and how our cloudSwXtch solution paves the way for a seamless transition to cloud-based operations. We’ll also unpack how cloudSwXtch ensures broadcasters can maintain and observe high-quality video and audio streams in the cloud, just like they did in their on-prem networks.

The Shift to the Cloud – Like Speaking Two Languages at Once

Flow monitoring: It’s a challenge broadcasters are all too familiar with in their shift towards cloud broadcasting. The cloud offers a virtualized network that differs significantly from their on-prem infrastructure, introducing a gap in their ability to monitor flows with the same level of detail and control. In the on-prem world, broadcasters were like Michelin star-earning chefs in their kitchens, knowing every ingredient and where it went. Now, moving to the cloud, the granularity is gone. They might feel like they’re cooking blindfolded.

The problem is rooted in the lack of multicast in the cloud, which fundamentally changes how broadcasters monitor streams. For instance, consider a playout server in the cloud—a critical component in broadcasters’ workflows. While they aim to monitor the output of this server to ensure the quality and integrity of the stream, the absence of multicast means they can't directly observe the same stream that reaches their audience. Instead, they’re left to monitor a separate, unicast stream, which may not accurately reflect the viewer's experience. In an industry where 'seeing is believing,' this set up just isn’t sustainable.

cloudSwXtch: Drawing the map, Bridging the Gap

With the cloud's virtualized networks throwing a wrench in the well-oiled monitoring machinery of broadcasters, we're bringing the precision of on-prem monitoring into the cloud. cloudSwXtch by swXtch.io ensures that monitoring systems receive an exact copy of the stream sent to the end destination, whether it's multicast, unicast, or any protocol they’re working with, thereby enabling precise flow monitoring and control in cloud environments.

Our solution, however, is broader than just replicating packets. Our technology creates a seamless bridge between your on-prem infrastructure and the cloud, maintaining the integrity of your streams without any loss in translation. This is what we at swXtch.io call our “Galactic Data Plane” in action - ensuring that what you send is exactly what gets delivered, no matter where in the universe it needs to go.

The Galactic What?

Admittedly,  it’s a non-technical term, but what we’re really describing when we say “Galactic Data Plane” is a unified network pathway created by cloudSwXtch. This virtual overlay network, connects your on-premises setup directly to the cloud seamlessly, like a superhighway free of traffic jams, ensuring smooth and efficient content delivery.

We do this via a unique approach dubbed “dynamic bridging,” a ground-to-cloud concept that eliminates the need for the burdensome weight of a continuous data transmission. With dynamic bridging, cloudSwXtch tricks the different software applications and underpinnings of your hybrid cloud setup into thinking they’re all running on the same network, transporting only the feeds or information required at any given moment. This smart system selectively transmits only the necessary data at any given time, preventing any unnecessary load on your bandwidth. It makes your operations leaner, more efficient, and ready for where broadcasting is headed, including remote production and instant access to live feeds.

This is achieved through our easily deployed switch and NIC architecture, which surfaces packets at strategic points within the cloud network. These points act as beacons, aggregating and revealing the journey of packets through the virtualized network. This offers broadcasters a level of visibility previously unattainable in cloud environments, all while seamlessly integrating with your existing applications without any required changes.

The wXcked Eye Interface and API Integration: Like a Control Room in the Cloud

Managing the complex network of cloud broadcasting might seem daunting, but our cloudSwXtch solution simplifies the process with wXcked Eye, our user-level monitoring interface. wXcked Eye is designed to cut through the cloud's opacity, providing as comprehensive view of your entire network, from on-premises setups to cloud infrastructure, all through user-friendly graphical displays. It offers real-time insights into bandwidth usage, latencies, formats, and the status of your xNICs, among other metrics. It's like having a control room that spans from your on-prem setup all the way to the cloud

What sets wXcked Eye apart is its ability to integrate with your existing systems. Through our straightforward REST API, which can be directly called from your applications, you can access all the data collected by wXcked Eye. This enables the creation of personalized dashboards or the integration of data into broader monitoring ecosystems, making network management more intuitive and efficient.

Our customers leverage this data to enhance their monitoring environments, ensuring integration of cloudSwXtch's insights with their existing on-premises solutions. This creates a unified monitoring framework that extends from the ground to the cloud, accommodating a wide range of network flows.

Ultimately, wXcked Eye and our suite of monitoring tools empower broadcasters to quickly identify and resolve any issues that may arise, maintaining the integrity of broadcast content in an increasingly cloud-dependent world.

A detailed table view highlighting the flow of non-Multicast data through the cloudSwXtch, featuring both SRT and RIST protocols in Caller/Listener configurations.
Comprehensive topology view of the cloudSwXtch network architecture, illustrating the connections between cloudSwXtch Bridges, cloudSwXtches, and xNICs. The diagram depicts data flow and transmission rates, with arrows indicating various communication lines such as multicast, SRT, and RIST.

Operational Efficiency and User-Friendly Monitoring: Reshaping Stream Oversight

To make things run as smoothly as possible, cloudSwXtch uses a transformative approach with multicast technology. It's a big change from the old, cumbersome way of doing things using traditional unicast methods. Under unicast, the monitoring process involved operators manually requesting copies of streams from their sources for monitoring purposes—a task that becomes exponentially harder when you’re trying to handle lots of streams at once.  This process is a hassle, to say the least:  Imagine someone trying to keep an eye on a vast array of feeds, watching over a complex mosaic of potentially 48 to 128 pictures, each demanding attention to ensure the integrity of broadcast content.

The introduction of multicast into the cloud, facilitated by cloudSwXtch, simplifies this task dramatically. Instead of the laborious process of individual requests, operators can now subscribe to the desired feeds already present within the network. This method both ensures that the monitoring process is streamlined but is also designed to guarantee that the feed being monitored is the actual stream in transmission, providing a true reflection of the content as it reaches its destination.

By integrating multicast into the cloud, cloudSwXtch works seamlessly with our tech like the "Galactic Data Plane" and dynamic bridging to create a seamless pathway for broadcast content from on-premises to the cloud.  This synergy between our technologies means your operations runs more smoothly, you use your bandwidth more efficiently, and that stream monitoring becomes a user-friendly process, cutting down on manual labor for broadcasters.

swXtch.io X Evertz

Our collaboration with Evertz and their Magnum OS system is a great example of how cloudSwxtch is being applied in the field. Magnum OS has traditionally offered comprehensive visibility into on-premises networks, detailing flows, endpoints, and all critical network aspects. Recognizing the evolving needs of broadcasters transitioning to cloud environments, Evertz sought to extend this visibility into the cloud.

Leveraging swXtch.io's API, Evertz integrated our features, such as support for SMPTE 2022-7 redundancy and seamless ground-to-cloud bridging, into their Magnum OS. This allowed them to extract real-time data directly from our switches, bridges, and network interfaces (NICs), enriching their dashboard with a holistic view of both on-premises and cloud network activities. This capability empowers broadcasters to monitor their networks with the same level of detail and control in the cloud as they have traditionally enjoyed on-premises.

We also provide our integration partners and customers with the tools necessary to streamline the integration of data into existing dashboards, using popular platforms like Grafana and Prometheus. This means broadcasters can easily enhance their current monitoring setups with cloudSwXtch data, without the need for building new dashboards from scratch. It's all about making network management more intuitive and efficient, ensuring broadcasters can maintain control and quality in their content delivery.

New Developments

We're also extending NMOS integrations to new workflow partners for enhanced control of hybrid networks along with monitoring. This development is about not just watching but interacting with your feeds in the cloud, offering more control and flexibility to your operations.

Our mission at swXtch.io is clear: We’re here to transform cloud-based broadcasting operations. Our goal is to help you achieve the same levels of efficiency and reliability as you did on-premise, while making your transition to the cloud as smooth, secure, and adaptable as possible.

For more information on how swXtch.io and cloudSwXtch can help you with your cloud-based broadcasting needs, get in touch with our sales team. If you’re at the NAB conference in April, come find us to chat.

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