How Smart Broadcasters Make the Digital Revolution Work for Them with Atos BNCS+ and AWS Elemental
By Ross Atkin, Head of Media Control and Monitoring – Atos
By Ramesh Ranganathan, Sr. Partner Solution Architect – AWS
By Pedro Feliciano, Sr. Edge Services Specialist Solution Architect – AWS
Broadcasters and media organizations are dealing with a perfect storm of market and technology-driven changes. This brings the need to create open environments in which systems and components from multiple vendors can interact with complete smoothness, at rapid speed, to deliver excellent content where, when, and how it’s needed.
The ongoing move to IP and cloud-based production systems changes everything. Media production brings a move from centralized studios and control rooms to decentralized workflows spread across distributed broadcast facilities. The key to being competitive, fast-moving, and profitable in this challenging environment is staying in full control.
To address these challenges, Atos built BNCS, a solution that for over two decades has offered broadcasters seamless, unified control and monitoring across disparate platforms from multiple manufacturers. This gives BNCS customers new levels of agility and speed, with touchscreen and dashboard-based interfaces that are intuitive and enable users to configure and control broadcast infrastructure at ease.
A new product offering from Atos called BNCS+ for AWS is the next evolution of the BNCS platform that brings cloud capabilities to the BNCS product range. This solution enables traditional broadcasters, small media companies, and non-media companies to rapidly create highly scalable and resilient video channels that can be accessed by global audiences using the BNCS+ interface, without having to build deep AWS Cloud or DevOps expertise.
This post provides an overview of Atos BNCS+ for AWS, its delivery methodology, industry challenges it addresses, and underlying reference architecture powered by Amazon Web Services (AWS).
With more than 8,000 AWS accreditations and 2,700 AWS Certifications on its global staff, Atos is an AWS Advanced Tier Services Partner that has extensive experience providing consulting, professional, and managed services at scale to a large number of AWS customers across industries.
Meeting Emerging Trends in the Broadcast Industry
The broadcast and media marketplace is being transformed by a combination of market, social, and technology-driven factors. Most of the big changes like demand-led consumption, viewing on multiple devices, online platforms as preferred viewing options, and the rise in citizen-provided material were causing huge disruption until a few years ago.
Now, the previous world of established networks and broadcasters has been replaced by a landscape we might call “dynamic” or possibly “highly unpredictable.”
In the past decade, the way we manage and control media operations has changed. BNCS is a solution on which most of the UK’s major broadcasters rely on daily to control and automate their on-air transmissions. In an unpredictable world, staying in control is key to long-term success, and control is exactly what BNCS gives to its media customers.
Atos BNCS has thus evolved to address key requirements like:
- Allowing media specialists to coordinate activities between hundreds of devices from different manufacturers by adopting open standards.
- Providing a single interface control panel for controlling a wide range of equipment from consistent touch-screen operated control panels.
BNCS Moves to the Cloud
Traditionally, there has been a high entry bar for deploying media production chains. This has been due to the need to have dedicated on-premises infrastructure that takes time and significant capital to deploy. As such, with the move to cloud and IP-based production and distribution, the media industry has an opportunity to lower this bar.
Besides benefiting traditional broadcasters and media organizations, this move enables more businesses from various industries to exploit rich media and video production/distribution as part of their day-to-day operations.
For example, as a by-product of the pandemic, live streaming of events has become the norm. Just three years ago, having a live feed of a wedding would have seemed unusual, but these days it’s almost an expected option, allowing distant relatives and friends to be able to share the joy in real time.
Regardless of an organization’s size, it’s now possible to deploy high-quality media production and consumption with minimum lead time and reduced cost through the use of cloud-based media infrastructures.
Rather than spend significant time and money on building a physical infrastructure, users are able to build their solutions using software hosted in the cloud. This allows organizations to significantly reduce capital costs whilst delivering the same dynamic customer experiences. It also allows them to offer services they otherwise wouldn’t have been able to provision due to limited time or budget concerns.
This is where AWS Media Services fit in, as they let you focus on creating compelling live video experiences for viewers without the complexity of building and operating broadcast-grade video processing infrastructure.
AWS Media Services transport, prepare, process, and deliver live and on-demand content in the cloud. These managed services let you build and adapt video workflows quickly, eliminate capacity planning, easily scale with growth, and benefit from pay-as-you-go pricing.
They can also easily connect with other AWS services and third-party applications for media storage, machine learning (ML), content protection, and monetization campaigns, enabling further evolution of the BNCS platform.
Atos has developed a specific version of BNCS that is dedicated to making it quick and easy to deploy AWS-based media production solutions. Rather than relying on a DevOps team for deployment, BNCS+ for AWS allows production teams to easily select from a pre-built set of templates and deploy them with a single click. If necessary, these standard templates can be modified using a simple drag and drop interface.
BNCS+ For AWS Solution Architecture
The BNCS+ for AWS solution is a web-based interactive development environment (IDE) where media production teams can create new video processing pipelines without having to worry about the underlying infrastructure to run it.
The application has the following services:
- Identity service providing user registration and management.
- BNCS+ Core services providing the core application functionality to model and store video processing templates.
- AWS Driver service providing the capability to deploy media workflows for running your live channels.
- Cache service to cache user session data.
- Datastore to store the application data and metadata.
- Set of pre-built and ready-to-deploy templates.
The architecture diagram in Figure 1 depicts how the solution is deployed on AWS and an example of a simple video processing pipeline it can deploy.
BNCS+ for AWS has fully automated deployment using AWS CloudFormation templates. The application utilizes the AWS SDK for .NET to convert the pipeline templates to live media channels by deploying the media services required for the pipeline.
The solution also provides the capability to remove all of the previously deployed infrastructure and monitor workflows without having to log in to the AWS Management Console.
Figure 1 – Atos BNCS+ for AWS architecture.
BNCS+ For AWS Screen Flow
BNCS+ provide intuitive screens covering application authentication, media pipeline modelling, template lookup and retrieval, template deployment and tear down, and finally monitoring of the pipeline.
To illustrate the functionality with an example, if a pop-up channel is required for a live event, an operator can quickly spin up a AWS Elemental MediaLive channel without needing to touch the AWS console. Via a web browser, the user selects a suitable template from the BNCS+ repository and requests the deployment.
BNCS+ provides real-time information on deployment process, an intuitive interface for starting a channel and monitoring its status, as well as being able to automatically tear down deployed media workflow once it’s no longer required. The process of creating this new chain takes minutes with the operator needing no real knowledge of AWS other than selecting the input source and where they wish the output to be directed.
Figure 2 – Create and deploy the template.
Solution Implementation Approach
Atos is offering the BNCS+ for AWS solution through a number of different channels that best reflect customer needs:
- For media and non-media organizations who want to have live media services without having strong media capabilities, Atos offers BNCS+ as a pay-per-use software. The solution offers:
- Simple access to media workflows using templates that provide out-of-the-box solutions for common media requirements for small and medium sized organizations.
- Simple access to AWS Elemental services such as AWS Elemental MediaConnect, AWS Elemental MediaLive, and AWS Elemental MediaPackage without requiring cloud or DevOps expertise.
- For organizations requiring more advanced workflows, or those that have some experience with AWS, the solution offers the ability to customize templates. This is ideal for those looking to use the solution, for example, to implement disaster recovery (DR) where the deployment needs to be bespoke to the organization. Customization can be undertaken by the customer themselves from within BNCS+, or Atos can offer professional services to assist with the creation of these.
- The final offering is for customers looking for hybrid workflows that involve production both on premises and in the cloud. Atos engages such customers directly to develop a turnkey solution leveraging both the classic BNCS platform and BNCS+ for AWS.
BNCS+ provides a single-pane view of your media infrastructure deployed both on premises as well as in the cloud. As a result, it’s possible to effectively monitor, optimize, and automate improvements in production workflows delivered by businesses across the entire production chain.
The Atos BNCS+ for AWS solution focuses on transforming four core elements of your business, including staff and operation costs, infrastructure flexibility, and error and risk.
Figure 3 – Atos BNCS+ platform benefits.
The aim is to ensure the technology supports and enhances the creative process rather than getting in the way of it. This means creative and production staff are able to concentrate on the most important thing, which is creating rich and engaging content for consumers.
Atos BNCs+ for AWS brings best-of-breed services from both Atos and AWS, which are strengthening their 10-year relationship with this solution.
The Atos platform, system integration, consulting approach, and industry expertise combine with highly scalable and secure cloud services from AWS to provide a state-of-the-art solution that accelerates the adoption of cloud production in the media industry.
For additional information, and to learn how the BNCS+ platform can be applied to your business requirements, visit the Atos BNCS+ page.
Atos – AWS Partner Spotlight
Atos is an AWS Advanced Tier Services Partner and MSP that supports clients’ digital ambitions and believes that bringing together people, business, and technology is the way forward.