Kudos to KVM
Not so long ago KVM (Keyboard Video Mouse) was exclusively associated with datacentres. Its very existence traces back to the 1980s when the computer industry took off and, as a result, server rooms and data centres became overwhelmed with hundreds of monitors, keyboards, and mice. The amount of real estate these devices were taking up, along with the distance that technicians had to physically walk to in order to access each server, was becoming an issue.
KVM switching products were developed to enable a single user to access multiple CPUs from a single monitor, keyboard and mouse. Later on, advances were made that saw the design of ‘multi-user’ KVM switches for enterprise-wide solutions – allowing for data centre managers to set up NOCs or control rooms where users could remotely access any or all of the servers/devices in their server farms.
Fast forward to the 21st century with the rise of software-controlled systems, broadcast operations desks were also becoming overloaded with multiple computer terminals, so naturally, the broadcast industry started to adopt the same solutions. Now, KVM switches are commonplace in the world of broadcast and media production. Our industry is processing ever increasing amounts of content and media files over longer distances.
KVM is being used for hundreds of different mission critical applications. It allows individual endpoints such as PCs, monitors and so on, to be accessible flexibly – even in extensive networks. KVM also provides significant support for monitoring all relevant processes and systems. But this adoption of KVM extends way beyond the NOC or control room and the realm of technicians, and has been carried into the world of media creatives.
There is a growing requirement for more creative people to collaborate in the broadcast industry – whether that is within the same building or working remotely – and in different broadcasting applications – whether sports, live broadcast or post-production.
Adding to its extensive KVM product portfolio, Argosy recently teamed with German KVM specialist, Guntermann & Drunck (G&D), to help support content management companies, studios, OBs and postproduction houses, all dealing with additional content and managing higher quality video – which typically presents more high-end over IP requirements.
One such organisation, a high-profile sports broadcast customer of G&D, recently built a new broadcasting and production centre near Munich. It is one of the most modern sports broadcasting centres in Europe. From here, they produce numerous live broadcasts of the national and European football leagues and championships as well as managing social media channels.
The media company is able produce and broadcast up to 12 programmes in parallel on one weekend. It operates five sports channels broadcasting 24/7. On top of this, ten additional channels can be added to broadcast up to 14 different sports events on one weekend. This tremendous output requires an enormous amount of technology, equipment and, of course, many employees.
The centre houses two large live studios and connected control rooms, many editing rooms, ten dedicated voice-over booths and 16 additional voice-over seats. It also has eight production control rooms and an occasional channel playout room with a connected audio control room as well as two TX Control Rooms for controlling the four 24/7 main channels and ten Occasional Channels. An impressive 2.5 m high and 35 meters wide LED wall forms the heart of the main studio. On this screen, presenters can display and analyse game scenes, graphics and statistics.
The server room houses around 100 powerful computers. All systems such as ingest servers, video servers, studio automation servers, servers and clients for graphics systems, teleprompters, servers for camera robotics, general configuration servers/clients and servers for broadcast automation can be accessed using KVM technology.
In order to facilitate the creative work in the broadcasting and production centre and to make it as efficient as possible, all video and program control rooms as well as ingest, playout, the graphics department and several studios are now almost computer-free.
And although most of the equipment has been stored centrally, there was still a need in some departments for computers to be available locally and, more importantly, for multiple computers to be operated by the same producer. The first issue was solved with installing KVM switches, e.g. DP-MUX2, at each of these workstations. Producers, in turn, now use TradeSwitches to operate several computers with only one set of keyboard and mouse, without having to provide keyboard and mouse for each machine separately.
To ensure that workflows are running smoothly around the clock, the equipment must always be available while also being absolutely fail-safe. Here, G&D’s KVM systems serve as the backbone of the IT. In order to optimally implement the high demands on security, facilitate workflows and improve collaboration of the individual production teams for live reports, the integrator developed a concept to create a fully redundant structure of the production and operating computers which also included removing them from studios, control rooms and post-production.
The result of the demanding IT installation and several months of technical preparations is rather impressive: About 100 CPUs and 85 CONs and countless cables were connected to both mirrored matrix switches.
Round the clock KVM
For this project, two completely mirrored, redundant matrix switch clusters, each consisting of a G&D ControlCenter-Digital 288, were placed in the central equipment room. If – in the event of a fault – switching via one of the two matrices is not possible, the second matrix is used automatically. Thanks to full redundancy, the production teams can perform their tasks at all times.
The KVM matrix ControlCenter-Digital has also been integrated into LAWO’s VSM broadcast control and monitoring system to ensure uniform control and to simplify multi-level, complex processes. Thanks to G&D’s IP-Control-API, the VSM controller communicates with the KVM matrix and can execute any switching commands such as simultaneous switching of different programme requirements or exchanging setups between several control rooms.
This broadcaster has gained maximum flexibility and more freedom for future in-house productions. Individual workflows have been improved, making everyday production easier for everyone involved.
Positive Working Environments
Post-producers, sound engineers and supervisors all work with powerful computers. Since these generate a lot of noise and heat, they shouldn’t be placed in a working environment where people need to be extremely focused on their demanding tasks. Relocating computers not only avoids noise emissions, it also has a positive effect on workplace ergonomics. Noise and heat are a thing of the past, and employees can concentrate on what really matters: performing their complex tasks – with full access to their computers and without having to deal with any delays.
With G&D, broadcasters gain maximum flexibility and even more scope for future in-house productions. Individual workflows can be vastly improved and everyday production made easier for everyone involved.
Using a KVM switch will save your organisation money on redundant hardware, reduce cabling and infrastructure, consolidate desk space, and increase performance by having multiple computers working as one.