- Laurence Russell
Sencore to Launch Centra at IBC 2022, building upon decades of IP broadcast experience
Sencore - a leading broadcast equipment supplier with more than 70 years of experience in the industry - will be using IBC2022 (booth 1.F72) to premier the launch of their new Centra Gateway; a comprehensive and holistic network orchestration system. This new platform which will mark the company’s move to provide ‘Solutions as a Service’, leveraging the extensive industry knowledge they have built over the course of decades spent providing equipment to meet the business and technological needs of the broadcast industry.
Centra represents an end-to-end, holistic orchestration platform that will allow broadcasters to manage the full extent of their media chain, on multiple levels, from a centralized, intuitive interface which can either be located in the cloud (and thus accessible remotely from anywhere in the world), or through an on-site installation as required.
The Centra platform will provide network management across a range of layers of operation, with plans to expand functionality over the upcoming year. The IBC-ready release will introduce the core functionality of the platform; namely, the reception, transmission and conversion of internet protocols for optimized distribution of video. Protocols supported will include RIST, SRT, Zixi, and HLS, along with MPEG over IP. With the aim to take advantage of the benefits associated with RIST and SRT protocols in terms of reliability, low latency, packet-drop compensation and forward error correction.
Far more than a mere tool for protocol translation though, Centra represents a ‘mothership’ for the orchestration of streaming; collecting, converting, aggregating, orchestrating and distributing as required. Automation will be built into many of the processes; communicating with edge devices to ascertain capacity, required protocol, etc., and then distributing on that basis. Constant metrics assessing latency across network links will allow for Centra to optimize transport according to resources and need.
The second layer of the Centra Gateway will facilitate asset and device management. This will allow users to determine at-a-glance the location, software version, license status and health of their various assets, with the ‘at-a-click’ ability to manage and upgrade these elements - either through purchase or loan - through the Sencore store.
The third layer of the Centra platform will integrate monitoring and analysis of the entire network which provide insight into every mile of video transport, flagging a significant range of potential error types, as well as providing historical analytics for more strategic assessment of network performance over time. Through monitoring by exception Centra will notify and provide users with a streamlined path to rectification, linking to the correct department, site, engineer or solution required.
Thanks to the latest software and orchestration tools, the Centra solution is fully scalable to the needs of the broadcaster, at a range of bitrates depending on the appliance model or the capacity of the cloud platform selected. Future iterations of the Centra platform will integrate an increasing number of third-party devices, protocols and services through REST API and NMOS, acting as a single point of coordination through which broadcasters can access all of the components needed for effective, efficient network management.
The central goal of the platform is to solve the traditional problems associated with IP video delivery; namely undefined routes, latency, packet loss or corruption, connection drops and the impact of bursty traffic. Centra will use intelligent, automated network management techniques to ensure high quality, reliable video delivery in a way that reduces latency, maintains the maximum possible content security, and ultimately delivers the quality of viewership experience that audiences expect.
Most importantly though, Centra aims to achieve this in a way that is accessible, intuitive and highly usable, even to those without a technical or engineering background. The key point of differentiation for Centra - aside from its extensive integrations - is the low learning curve associated with its use. Through the creation of an easily-understood GUI, logical and clear workflows, and the deployment of automation, prompts and wizards where required, Centra allows broadcasters to put eyes - and hands - on all components of their network, quickly and easily.
Speaking of the release of Centra at IBC, Aaron Doughten, Senior Product Manager for Sencore said: “With years of experience selling individual devices like decoders, transcoders and converters, we have an intimate understanding of the role that different transport protocols play in the effective delivery of video, and the potential pitfalls associated with them. But many of these protocols – and the systems built to handle them – were created in a time marked by cutthroat competition. Increasingly though, we at Sencore believe the industry is becoming one marked by ‘collaborative competition’, where integration and harmonization are the buzzwords of the day.”
He continued: “The development of the Centra Gateway represents our belief that we have moved past the days where broadcasters needed to make trade-offs in their network infrastructure. No longer do we need to engage in either/or decisions or else experience unnecessary bloat - both space and expense wise – in video networks. A single, intuitive point of access orchestrating a network, accommodating a diverse range of standards, from anywhere in the world allows broadcasters greater flexibility, delivers lower OpEx, and increases the reliability and quality of their content. That it was Centra represents.”