We asked Grass Valley’s VP Product Marketing, Boromy Ung, to tell us about the company’s recently launched Grass Valley Technology Alliance (GVTA) – why it was created, what are the requirements for membership and how he sees it developing over the coming months and years.
When did the GVTA get started?
The GVTA was ‘soft’ launched at NAB Show this year. At the time we had just one founding member but the objective was to do a full launch at IBC with more members on board –which we did, with five companies signed up. These are ChyronHego, Frankly Media, Net Insight, RT Software and Telemetrics.
We’re in the process of signing up more members with the objective of having at least 12 by NAB Show 2020. This should give us enough critical mass to consider doing other events – maybe a GVTA conference where we could invite some panelists and guest speakers to discuss industry trends. We’re certainly considering things like this for the future.
What are the objectives of the GVTA?
The principal goal of the GVTA is to create an alliance that would allow our customers to get a fully integrated solution with added value and capabilities and enable them to deploy the solution without any risks. It is about guaranteeing interoperability between GVTA members’ products and Grass Valley’s for the benefit of our customers. Often in the past –especially for very complex systems –we found we take the ‘rap’ for solving interoperability problems even when they were not our fault – customers look at us almost as a systems integrator. We see this across large software deployment projects in news, playout and so forth. The GVTA addresses this at source.
Who can join the GVTA?
Technically, the GVTA is open to everybody – including competitors at some level. For example, we have an existing integration with the Avid newsroom computer system and we support the Ross newsroom system too, as well as integrating with some MAM vendors. As long as the company has a product that integrates with one of our products, we would definitely consider having them join the alliance.
Having said that, we may of course need to find a way so that we don’t promote a directly competitive product. The alliance carries the Grass Valley name, and while in theory we would love the alliance to be really neutral and industry-wide, it is inevitably a Grass Valley-centric thing – but it is all done for the benefit of our joint customers. I’m not saying that the mission of the GVTA will not change over time, but right now it’s about deploying systems that include at least one Grass Valley product.
What qualifies a company to join the GVTA?
The prerequisite is being able to show a working integration with one of Grass Valley’s products. We are happy to host the testing at one of our facilities if required. We also first need to assess if there’s any major competitive threat. After that, an internal team comprising the relevant people that have a stake in the integration gets together to properly evaluate the integration. The GVTA member commits to doing some co-marketing with us that will work to both parties’ advantage. A formal agreement is then signed.
I should emphasize that Grass Valley is not undertaking to resell GVTA members’ products, although where we have an OEM agreement in place (as with Telemetrics, for example) this will be the case. We will be dealing with this on a case by case basis as to the best way forward with each member. Of course, where a customer who is perhaps building a new studio, for example, says that they also need other services beyond what Grass Valley is offering – automation, graphics etc. – we would say that we integrate fully with any member of the GVTA offering those products, so they get help from us promoting their products too.
How do you define interoperability?it’s a very broad term
You’re right – it’s hard to define it in abstract. I would summarize it as something that provides greater value than the sum of its parts – i.e. that adds value. For example, if you were building a studio and it has a production switcher and a graphics system, normally you would have a director controlling the vision mixer deciding which camera goes to air etc. and a graphics operator generating lower thirds, tickers etc. By integrating a Grass Valley production switcher with a ChyronHego graphics system, the graphics system can be controlled directly from the switcher, giving the director the ability to directly preview the graphics without having to ask the graphics operator or having to look at a different UI, making the director’s job easier.
In another example, Frankly Media’s Express Video platform integrates with our GV STRATUS content management system which allows any content owner to acquire, edit, manage and publish content whether it is for broadcast, web, social or OTT distribution. While Grass Valley’s platform shines at managing the ‘broadcast’ content, Frankly Media brings the ‘digital media’ side of the solution which requires content to be exchanged seamlessly between the two systems. This ultimately means better collaboration between the broadcast and the digital media teams under the broadcaster’s umbrella.
What’s in it for Grass Valley – and other alliance members?
Let’s be transparent here – we’re doing this not only for our customers’ benefit but also for our own. We’re using our name to attract companies to join the alliance so that we can of course improve our chances by selling a broader solution. But ultimately, everybody wins: Grass Valley and all GVTA members – and let’s remember that the end-user wins as well, by deploying a guaranteed interoperable solution which ultimately de-risks the deployment of the solution.
We’re at the very beginning here – the first step. I think the industry would benefit tremendously from having a broader interoperability alliance like AIMS – but AIMS was about more than just systems interoperability. I’ve never seen any vendor that didn’t support SDI, so because we all wanted and needed to replace SDI, we had no choice but to at least try and standardize the whole IP thing.
With the GVTA, it’s a bit more subtle –because it’s much harder to define what interoperability means, it’s much more difficult to make it industry-wide – at least at the start. So rather than trying to boil the ocean, we set out to see if we could fill some holes with some of the GVTA partners’ products. Eventually, more and more people will start to see the benefits and the alliance will gain wider traction over time. I’m aware that having Grass Valley in the name will put some people off – but on the other hand, Grass Valley celebrated its 60th anniversary this year and we have a lot of history and a lot of customers, so I would see this as a positive step forward.
What’s the benefit for GVTA members?
As well as the co-marketing opportunities mentioned previously, they also gain exposure at exhibitions and events. At IBC we had a section on our booth that was reserved for GVTA members, giving them the opportunity to present on our booth, talk to our customers and our staff and promote their solutions – as well as potentially showcasing their product fully integrated with ours on one of our demo pods.
Is there a plan for an Interop Lab?Some of the integrations lend themselves to a lab-type approach, while others don’t, so we will be taking this on a case by case basis. In theory, depending on the application, we have the ability to test all these systems together and could show an end-to-end ecosystem to a customer. We do this at trade shows, and on roadshows or smaller, regional shows. In other cases, it may very well be that we are already shipping one of the members’ technology ‘inside’ one of our products, which is the case for RT Software for example, as their graphics engine is integrated within our ICE playout product. This means the integration is tested every time we release a new version of ICE!
Do you have any examples yet of successful projects under the GVTA banner?
We’re working on several projects right now that are confirming we’re on the right track, with remote production being a key trend in this, and working with Net Insight is proving to be very beneficial in some of these projects –and customers really appreciate seeing us working together. I’d say in general that the whole concept of the alliance has definitely been well received both by customers and also the press – we had a lot of editors coming to our booth at IBC to find out more about it. In short, it’s getting good traction.
More information about the GVTA can be found at www.grassvalley.com/products/gvta/