March 20, 2024

Streamlining Media Flows in the Cloud: How cloudSwXtch Gets It Done with NMOS

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We’ll start with the good stuff first. For broadcasters, gone are the days of being tethered to the limitations of Serial Digital Interface (SDI) workflows, which came with scaling and flexibility limitations. Thanks to the SMPTE 2110 standards changing the game, we’ve now got endless possibilities of Internet Protocol (IP)-based systems. This shift ushered in a new era of flexibility and efficiency, allowing us to treat audio, video, and ancillary data as distinct streams that can be routed and managed independently. Managing all these asynchronous streams is no small feat, especially in an IP network where devices from various manufacturers need to communicate. NMOS (Networked Media Open Specifications) serves as a solution, acting like a universal key that unlocks these diverse devices and streams to be integrated into a single interface for streamlined flow control, simplifying network management and making our lives a lot easier.

Now here’s the downside: as we move to work more in the cloud and hybrid environments, there's a catch. The cloud, by default, doesn't support the multicast capabilities that are essential for implementing SMPTE 2110 and NMOS. This can be a deal-breaker for broadcasters looking to leverage the cloud's scalability and flexibility without losing the functionality of their on-prem systems.

cloudSwXtch, our virtual overlay network, bridges this gap by enabling multicast capabilities in the cloud and so broadcasters can seamlessly transition to cloud-based and hybrid workflows without sacrificing the benefits of SMPTE 2110 and NMOS. In this blog, we're taking a closer look at NMOS and how cloudSwXtch amplifies its capabilities, bringing them into the realm of cloud-based broadcast environments.

NMOS: The glue of IP-Based Broadcast Networks

SMPTE 2110 transformed the broadcast industry by providing a framework for separating and transporting audio, video, and other data streams over IP networks. It primarily focuses on the media data plane, leaving the control plane to its cousin, NMOS. NMOS specifications play a crucial role in managing ST 2110-based infrastructure, enabling devices on a network to detect each other, understand available streams, and establish connections between devices. In other words, they are the glue of IP-Based Broadcast Networks.

Before NMOS, managing SMPTE ST 2110 IP video systems was a complex task, usually requiring a hodgepodge of control and orchestration APIs. NMOS has reshaped this landscape by introducing standardized specifications like IS-04 for device discovery and registration, and IS-05 for device connection management. This standardization simplifies integration, allowing for smoother orchestration of media flows across a wide range of streaming formats, including SMPTE 2110, 2022-6, RTP, and AES67.  Additionally, most video systems include a mix of formats representing differences in resolution, frame rate, compression, codec, and technological generation. NMOS's ability to manage these diverse formats, via an SDP Session Description Protocol, is a testament to its flexibility: The NMOS specification could be expanded to account for connection management of transport streams, or any multicast stream of any kind.

A critical aspect of NMOS and SMPTE 2110 workflows is their reliance on multicast for efficient media distribution. Multicast is what allows the single stream of video, audio, or data broken apart by NMOS to be sent to multiple receivers simultaneously. This both reduces complexity and the bandwidth for sending separate unicast streams to each receiver. In other words, it makes your world a lot easier. The result is a more flexible and future-proof broadcast network, with easier upgrades and the ability to integrate new technologies effortlessly.

But as broadcasters are leveraging the benefits of cloud-based workflows, a challenge presents itself: most cloud environments do not natively support multicast.

cloudSwXtch: Enabling NMOS in the Cloud

We never want the glue to stop working for any of our clients. cloudSwXtch, which sits on top of your existing network, extends the capabilities of NMOS into cloud-based broadcast environments. By supporting SMPTE 2110 and enabling multicast traffic in the cloud, our solution provides the necessary infrastructure for implementing NMOS in a cloud setting. Translation: No more duct-tape and bubblegum solutions to join ground and cloud environments, and no more worrying about big libraries of bespoke control APIs (each with their own funky performance characteristics). cloudSwXtch’s scalability, flexibility, and interoperability, aligns perfectly with the goals of NMOS and is designed to streamline the orchestration of media flows in the cloud, making your transition as smooth as can be.

The ability to support multicast in the cloud, enabled by solutions like cloudSwXtch, has opened up new possibilities for NMOS. It allows SMPTE ST 2110 and NMOS to extend beyond the physical confines of on-prem systems, meaning that the same video routing control system used for live production can now be used to switch video in the cloud and across the world, without the need for complex, custom control APIs. It's like giving your video routing control system a passport to travel anywhere it needs to go.

Benefits of Adopting NMOS with cloudSwXtch

What does this mean for broadcasters? Adopting NMOS via cloudSwXtch brings several advantages broadcast networks:

A unified language for endpoints and routing control systems: NMOS provides a common language for endpoints and routing control systems, significantly reducing the complexity of managing diverse devices and formats. This simplification leads to a more streamlined workflow, allowing for better coordination and fewer errors.

Time savings: The standardized approach of NMOS, combined with the cloud-native capabilities of cloudSwXtch, cuts time spent on provisioning, utilizing, and upgrading network infrastructure. Broadcasters can deploy new services and adapt to changing requirements more quickly.

Simplification of the environment and isolation of independent node clusters.

With the support of solutions like cloudSwXtch, NMOS can be easily implemented in cloud environments and hybrid environments, making your life easier and letting you focus on creating great content. Get in touch with our sales team to learn more about leveraging  the capabilities of cloudSwXtch.

If you're planning on being at NAB Show, come find us, April 14-17, in the Las Vegas Convention Center West Hall at booth W4429, to chat about swxtch.io's solutions for broadcasting in the cloud.

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