AmberFin Announces New Transcode Farm Controller & Network Licence Server for iCR

News

New enterprise-class features support business growth in a fluid file-based media landscape

Last Updated: December 3, 2013 7:00 pm GMT
(Basingstoke, United Kingdom--December 3, 2013) In an environment where leading analyst house, IHS Electronics and Media reports a continued global reduction in TV sales against predicted major increases in file transcoding resources where the real winner will be in multi-format transcoding needed for multi-screen OTT distribution, AmberFin, a leading developer of file-based media ingest, transcoding and quality control solutions for content owners, broadcasters, sports organizations and post-production houses has introduced new enterprise-class features for iCR, the company's file-based content ingest and transcoding system.

The company claims that AmberFin iCR’s new enterprise-class features will enable the creation of transcode farms that are scalable from one to many nodes whilst always providing fault tolerant operation. With AmberFin iCR, media facilities of all sizes, scales and business models can scale up an initial proof of concept to whatever system capacity they require without needing any kind of external orchestration system and in doing so dynamically support their business development strategy.

The new iCR Transcode Farm Controller functionality builds on AmberFin’s market caversatility of a multi-node transcode environment, bringing improved resilience and robustness whilst simultaneously bringing cost savings through more versatile network licensing capabilities.

“The iCR platform makes intelligent use of a media facility’s resources, while making complicated workflows simple to operate for the end user,” comments Bruce Devlin, Chief Technology Officer at AmberFin. “As the IHS reports clearly illustrate, today media facilities need efficient and resilient multi-format transcode resources to feed the multi-screen revolution. With AmberFin iCR, those transcode farms need not be massive or expensive. We have developed a remarkably simple enterprise-class transcode farm solution which works equally well in a single node proof of concept and a 100 node multi-workstation farm environment.”

AmberFin Transcode Farm Controller
In today’s increasingly file-based media workflows, file transcode operations have assumed critical importance. With media facilities both receiving and distributing content as media files, an efficient Transcode Farm Controller is essential. With the new iCR Transcode Farm Controller the transcode segment of the workflow is scalable, provides an appropriate level of redundancy to suit a specific application and enables a combination of high throughput and advanced system functionality.

The new iCR Transcode Farm Controller works by providing a single, reliable, redundant interface to the iCR Transcode capabilities. Jobs are sent to the iCR Controller and behind the scenes the system architecture is sized to achieve the levels of redundancy and throughput required by that particular application. By combining the Farm Controller with AmberFin’s Network Licensing Server an even larger scale model can be created with pools of transcode nodes that can dynamically float across the underlying server hardware and no longer require fixed node-to-server relationships. This achieves even greater levels of redundancy and operational efficiency over a large-scale transcode network through efficient use of available hardware nodes, irrespective of node fall out at any given time.

The combination of the Transcode Farm Controller and Network License Server adds a third dimension in terms of enhanced network functionality. It provides floating software licenses for occasional functions, such as standards conversion, captioning, Dolby, audio processing and watermarking.

Network License Server
Part of the company’s enterprise class workflow concept, AmberFin iCR's Network License Server enables facilities to use the same technology in both a single standalone Desktop PC running as the proof of concept as well as in a network of 100 or more servers / blades / VMs. Furthermore, each iCR node is installed from a single installer that contains the entire suite of iCR functionality. The license given to the node at run-time defines how that node will behave. This makes feature addition a real breeze as only the central license server needs updating – none of the nodes need to be touched.

Another key feature of the Network License Server is its ability to ensure that a user’s full capacity is always on-line. For example, if one transcoder node encounters problems, the Farm Controller will seamlessly swap the required iCR operations to a back-up node and the Network License Server will ensure it is able to carry on. Job metadata is available to allow network administrators to gauge how many jobs were delayed based on the licensing options available within the group. This feedback gives key capacity information to administrators, allowing them to manage costs, throughput and capacity of the farm.

AmberFin iCR also introduces new and sophisticated tools for adding, checking and inserting a user’s custom metadata through configuration and without requiring costly code customization. The iCR metadata plug-in wizard allows users to configure the metadata they need for their organization in such a way that ingest and QC operators can automatically update and validate this information as part of a QC workflow. This metadata can then be used to control segmentation workflows, versioning workflows and can be used in simple wizards to perform the right process with the right media and right metadata at the right time.

For more information, please download the AmberFin white paper "Enterprise Level File-Based Workflows: Merging Technology with Sound Business Sense". http://info.amberfin.com/whitepaper-enterprise

Also, on December 4th, as part of AmberFin’s Bruce’s Shorts initiative, Bruce Devlin will host a webinar that will investigate Enterprise-Class Workflows. If you would like to take part in the webinar follow this link to the AmberFin web site, which enables you to select a number of different times to suit your schedule.

Wed 4th December: 1pm GMT, 2pm CET, 8am ET, 5am PT

Wed 4th December: 5pm GMT, 6pm CET, 12pm ET, 9am PT

Editor’s note: Background to IHS Electronics & Media Reports
Two recent reports from analyst house IHS Electronics & Media give food for thought. Firstly, as the chart below illustrates, the global market for TVs has continued to decline this year. According to IHS, every category of TV – from LCD, to plasma, CRT and rear projection will suffer a decline and this continues a trend that started in 2010 in Western European and Japanese markets, and 2011 in North America.

Source: IHS Inc. October 2013

Transcoder market set for double-digit growth
At the same time, IHS paints a very different picture of the transcoder market where it predicts there will be over 140,000 encoding and transcoding channels shipped in 2017, an increase of around 25% on 2013. The report states that the market will be driven primarily by demand from live multi-format transcoders, digitization of analogue cable infrastructure and growth in overall broadcast channel feeds. Much of this growth will come from emerging markets in China, India and South-East Asia, which will double in volumes between 2013 and 2017.

The transition from analogue to digital TV has been steadily developing over the past ten to fifteen years, leaving the bulk of opportunity in cable distribution. As cable digitization in Europe and Asia is completed over 150,000 encoder channels will be needed between 2014 and 2017, accounting for a significant growth rate as existing channels are digitized, new channels added to digital packages, and cable headends are consolidated.

According to IHS Electronics & Media, while cable distribution will accounting for nearly 25% of the increase in channels shipped to 2017, the real winner will be in multi-format transcoding needed for live multi-screen OTT distribution. The increase in multi-device and multi-screen viewing on tablets, phones and other devices will drive the need for transcoders that can build multiple profiles for adaptive bit-rate streaming, creating a market that will grow by over 150% in the next four years and account for over 30% of the total growth for encoders and transcoders.

About AmberFin
AmberFin’s business is intelligent media conversion, solving file-based workflow challenges for broadcasters, sports organizations, post-production houses and other media content owners. Scalable, agile and efficient, the Amberfin iCR (intelligent Content Re-Purposing) Platform brings true innovation and cost-effectiveness to the demands of multi-platform delivery, enabling the industry to deal with high volumes and true-to-source high quality pictures at the same time, all with exclusive slim-file technology.

Unique to the iCR Platform, AmberFin’s industry leading approach to Quality Control, known as Unified Quality Control (UQC), introduces a QC mark that brings a new level of trust to media assets. UQC uniquely combines, automated processes that integrate third party verification tools with a human touch, enabling more efficient and effective decision-making and new levels of confidence in the file creation and transformation processes. AmberFin continues to experience market growth thanks to hundreds of iCR systems being deployed worldwide. Systems that are trusted where quality matters by some of the world’s leading media organizations including Sony Pictures, Warner Brothers, Turner Broadcasting, Canal+, ITV, ZDF, NRK, Nine Network Australia, Discovery and National Geographic. To follow the latest innovations in Broadcast-IT workflow technologies visit blog.amberfin.com

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