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The CBC Deploys Automated Media-Over-IP in its New Montreal Production Center

July 22, 2021

The new CBC production center in Montréal, going progressively on air through 2022, operates a continuous news channel with ten studio floors controlled by four automated control rooms. It also includes two major TV studios and two multi-functional studios with two control rooms, as well as in-house post-production and multiple radio channels, plus the central master control room for all French-language regions in the country.

During the design and early deployment of this major facility, they had to deal with first-generation IP-based media equipment and a large learning curve for their engineering and operations teams as well as their suppliers. It also became clear that at this large scale, with thousands of devices to configure, stage, provision and keep updated, along with the challenge to maintain the system documentation, the process should be automated and managed in a fashion similar to an IT data center. This automation includes:

  • Network Configuration: Configuring the switches, ports, and network infrastructure.
  • Initial Staging: Programming the minimum set of parameters for a device’s management interface to be reachable from the infrastructure.
  • Device Configuration: Programming the mediacentric parameters to make the endpoints discoverable, usable and available for provisioning in the broadcast controller. These parameters include multicast addresses of audio, video, or data streams; audio mapping; output timing alignments; and frame sync enabling.

The architecture of the automated deployment system is structured around the Agentless IT Automation Tool. This keystone of the system is responsible for translating the staging parameters into a series of commands, synchronizing the other components of the system:

  • Continuous Delivery Pipeline Tool, a one-stop shop for the end user, organizing various tasks and data-entry points in workflows involved in the initial staging process, device configuration, and network configuration.
  • Firmware Repository on a file server, which organizes the various firmware to better manage the upgrade process.
  • IP Address Manager (IPAM), which associates multicast and unicast IP addresses to a host/endpoint and ensures that no duplicate IP addresses reside in the ecosystem.
  • Dynamic Host Configuration Protocol (DHCP) server, which adds a layer of network security by preventing non-provisioned devices from obtaining an IP address in the network.
  • Network Infrastructure Physical Path (NIPP) generator, a verification tool that retrieves physical network information from the schematic database and the network switches.
  • Automated Sanity Check Pipelines, executed on a daily basis, which are key to the stabilization of the ecosystem during the rollout process.

Throughout this roll-out, the CBC team learned some key lessons in deploying Media-over-IP. The devices take much longer to test, stage, configure, and troubleshoot than equivalent equipment based on serial digital interface (SDI), so it was important that the automation tools were manageable. They chose endpoint devices offering common and open interfaces for their configuration and control, built the

deployment tools before building the actual system, and built around clearly-identified sources of truth for this large multi-user environment. They learned that the human factor is also critical, so they sought to involve all stakeholders early, including the architects, system designers and support team.

While the large-scale shift to media-over-IP is a major change for broadcast media organizations, the CBC found that the IT industry has solved the problem of operating huge data centers requiring high availability throughout their lifecycle. Their tools are both mature and widely used, and can deliver the benefits of flexibility and business agility promised by this complex technology transition. For more on the architecture and implementation of the system’s workflow, read the complete article, “Automated Deployment of CBC/Radio-Canada’s Media-Over-IP Data Center” in the July SMPTE Motion Imaging Journal.https://www.smpte.org/motion-imaging-journal


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