The media delivery technology company’s CEO introduces the latest generation of Nimbra Edge video platform and tells David Davies why “more distributed” methods of production are here to stay. 


Crister Fritzson

With its ability to support flexible and forward-looking media workflows, Net Insight’s Nimbra platform has been a mainstay of broadcast operations for the best part of two decades.

During the last few years the platform has evolved to include an increasing number of products for IP-based environments, while this autumn has brought news of a new generation of the Nimbra Edge platform designed to enhance the “flexibility, reliability and economics of cloud video” for broadcasters, service providers and enterprises. 

It has proven to be a timely release with broadcasters around the world operating in a more dispersed fashion than ever before due to the pandemic. And no matter how long that lasts, the general view is that some of the new production methodologies will continue post-Coronavirus.  

“I think that a more distributed way of working is here to stay,” says Net Insight CEO Crister Fritzson, “and in particular it is clear that the cloud and cloud production have been really boosted and pushed forward, including for remote production applications. I am sure that there will be some return [to previous approaches], but there will also be further exploration of these fresh ways of working more dynamically and efficiently.” 

Reinforced by the long track-record of the Nimbra brand, Net Insight will therefore have high hopes for the ‘next generation’ of Nimbra Edge. Following on from the acquisition of the Aperi product portfolio earlier this year, the new version integrates with both Nimbra and Aperi technologies to offer a complete suite of open, virtualised and cloud-native solutions. Built on open standards and offering support for all major industry re-transmission protocols (RIST, SRT, Zixi), Nimbra Edge allows service providers to deploy any mix of private, hybrid or public cloud infrastructure and over any IP network – while also avoiding the need to be locked into a particular vendor. 

“We are focused on enhancing the flexibility, reliability and economy of scale for cloud video”

The end-result, says Fritzson, is a platform that recognises media companies’ quest to “meet a growing demand for exciting live content experiences, while simultaneously driving efficiencies through remote production, distributed workflows and flexible delivery networks.” All of which, it hardly needs stating, have been in significant demand during 2020 with more personnel working from home and smaller production teams sent out on location. 

Moreover, the latest version of Nimbra Edge’s integration with Net Insight’s “existing platforms means that our customers get a unified media delivery and processing platform over any blend of public and private infrastructure. Crucially, they can also build on their existing Nimbra hardware as they move towards the cloud, so they can avoid discarding previous investments.” 

The ability to deploy the platform in different or hybrid environments will also be crucial for a long time to come as broadcasters move towards IP and cloud-based workflows at variable rates. Of various possible scenarios, Fritzson envisages Nimbra Edge being deployed for contribution, primary distribution and live cloud production. Cloud production can either complement existing production workflows or be used in parallel for the OTT and social media production and delivery workflows for the broadcasters and content owners.” 

With more platforms to feed these days, overall streaming cost is another concern. In this regard Fritzson believes that Nimbra Edge’s offer of a time-based model with pricing determined per connected video stream – regardless of the mix of 4K, HD, and SD streams – helps it appeal to a broad cross-section of end-users: “This makes it easier for customers to maintain a good control of the cost and more predictable expenditure.” 

Read more Serbia’s Arena Sport chooses Nimbra

In addition, while open cloud infrastructure is optimal for occasional use, 24/7 streaming services can be quite costly to host in an open cloud infrastructure. The ability to deploy in both public cloud and directly on own servers, or in a hybrid architecture, allows for significant cost savings for larger media companies, says Fritzson. 

In the longer-term, though, he expects more customers to reach the opinion that “adopting an opex model for cloud operation” can be more appropriate. In those scenarios, adds Fritzson, “we also have the right technology with which to support our customers as they innovate in this area.” 

Making The Switch 
The ability to support broadcasters and service providers as they pursue more flexible ways of working is illustrated by a recent project on behalf of production services and live video delivery specialist The Switch. Designed to establish a new 100Gbit fiber network, the new multi-phase upgrade revolves around the Nimbra 1060 media transport platform. Bringing higher capacity connectivity to key media and sports hubs in the North American market, the Nimbra solution also includes Nimbra 680 ‘carrier-class’ multi-service media routers and edge compute devices. 

Having the capability to set-up services and adjust capacity on-demand and maintain high-quality delivery in this way has become even more critical during the pandemic, indicates Fritzson, with broadcasters and leagues “working to keep live content on air despite travel restrictions and social distancing measures. Audiences demand higher resolution content on any screen, and service providers must ensure that their networks are future-ready to handle their customers’ evolving needs.” 

Pondering the broadcast industry’s response to the pandemic as a whole, he thinks “it has been amazing how quickly [content creators] in news, sports and entertainment have adapted to the new situation.” Remote and decentralised production were firmly in the ascendant before COVID-19, but their value has been reinforced by “current events, and so we think that will also lead to fresh opportunities for us in different market segments.” 

Regarding the immediate future, Fritzson acknowledges that – for at least the next six months – there will be continuing “challenges in the market, but we are in a good position because, even through this period, we are continuing to prioritise the advancement of new developments, especially with regard to the cloud and new IP media workflows.” 

Understandably, it is not possible to reveal specific details at this point, but “within the next 6-12 months there will be  there will be a large number of Nimbra and Aperi functions released. We actually increased the investment in R&D in the second half of last year and we are beginning to see the fruit of that now. So it’s with confidence that I predict our position in the market will be even stronger in the future.” 

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