Ross Video Team Sep 10, 2020


Living Live Podcast: Virtualization Fundamentals

Part 1: Making the Most of Cutting-Edge Virtualization Innovations

On this episode of Living Live with Ross Video, host Tyler Kern was joined by John Naylor, Ross Video Technology Strategist and Director of Product Security.

Naylor and Kern dove into the hot topic of virtualization technology in live production, which has been quickly thrust to the forefront of many operations due to the benefits it offers in the form of efficiency and the bottom line.

Examples of advancements in the space over the past several years, Naylor said, include GPU accelerators, which provide GPU resources to virtual machines, a recent innovation allowing for the movement of virtual machines seamlessly between hosts, and more.

A major player driving innovations in virtualization forward is VMware and its proprietary server virtualization software, vSphere.

“Tying is all together is VMware,” Naylor said. “They’ve really put a focus, recently, into the media and entertainment protocol. … (Now), we can actually get reliable, low-latency, real-time performance off virtual machines that are hosted on vSphere.”

Still, for all its promise, virtualization has some of the challenges any state-of-the-art innovation faces.

“It’s still bleeding-edge,” Naylor said. “So, the way we’re helping our customers (is working) very closely during the commissioning phases. Because the normal model is that the customers provide the infrastructure. … But in order to get real-time performance out of a server, it really does require a lot of tuning.”

AUTHOR: Tyler Kern

Part 2: The Fundamentals of Virtualization

On this episode of Living Live! with Ross Video, host Tyler Kern was joined by Senior Sales Director, Business Development at Nvidia Richard Hastie and Nvidia Senior Developer Relations Manager Jeremy Krinitt.

The trio dove into the fundamentals of virtualization, including the strategy’s benefits, challenges and realistic expectations for what’s around the corner.

“If you look at the ‘nirvana’ of what virtualization can empower, I see this very simply in two areas,” Hastie said. “Firstly, agility – the ability to take your traditional applications that historically have run on dedicated pieces of hardware equipment and extract those applications away from that hardware and enable them as software.

“The second thing that really is an enabler for the industry is on-demand functionality.”

Essentially, Hastie said, software-based applications can be run on demand as opposed to having to schedule and plan out the use of those applications in advance.

Krinitt also highlighted virtualization’s role in helping production operations maximize their resources, boosting the value from the totality of their tools and workforce.

While the potential to change the landscape of live production forever certainly exists, virtualization also comes with its fair share of challenges.

“Once you abstract the software from the hardware, you no longer have the hardware engine that’s underneath it. You’re really completely on a software layer,” Hastie said.

This can present numerous barriers, though Hastie said getting timing exactly right in a live scenario is perhaps the largest.

AUTHOR: Tyler Kern
CONTRIBUTORS: Richard Hastie and Jeremy Krinitt

Part 3: Navigating IP-Based and Cloud Innovations in Media and Entertainment

On this episode of Living Live with Ross Video, host Tyler Kern was joined by Shak Malik, the Global Director of Strategic Alliances for VMware.

VMware is an industry leader in cloud infrastructure and digital workspace solutions, helping clients accelerate digital transformation in IT environments.

Malik joined Living Live to talk about the seismic shifts in the media and entertainment industry and how VMware and virtualization solutions, in general, can help ease that transition.

“There are a number of things that are happening in the media and entertainment industry and technology industries at large,” Malik said. “First of all, there’s a mass-scale adoption of IP-based technologies. … The second major thing that’s happening is the option of cloud technologies.”

While these innovations come with their share of challenges, they also present unique, never-before-seen opportunities, such as scalability and more.

However, to take advantage of those boons, operations need to focus in on security and insulation from bad actors, ensure they’re compliant with regulations surrounding the use of the public cloud, and more.

To that end, VMware helps provide robust, modernized workflows and environments that deliver on the promise of these exciting advances.

Key Points:

• The media and entertainment industries are experiencing a seismic shift.
• IP-based and cloud technologies are driving that transformation.
• These technologies bring opportunities, such as scalability.

AUTHOR: Tyler Kern


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Podcast Transcript

Tyler Kern:

Virtualization technology is an increasingly hot topic in the world of broadcast and live production because of the efficiency and financial benefits that it can provide. And joining me to talk about that today is John Naylor, he's the technology strategist and director of product security for Ross Video. John, thank you so much for joining me today.

John Naylor:

Hi, it's great to be here.

Tyler Kern:

Excellent. It's great to talk to you today about this, John. One of the things that I've noticed is that Ross Video is really on the bleeding edge of this particular technology and on the innovation in this area. What advancements have been made in the last several years that have allowed this to be possible?

John Naylor:

Quite a few. If you define the challenge is producing real-time graphics out of a virtual machine, then there's quite a few parts and pieces that actually have had to come together to make that a reality over the past few years. One of which was the innovation of, they call them GPU accelerators, which is a way of providing GPU resources to virtual machines, and that's really been spearheaded by Nvidia. I think it was just last year that they actually managed to virtualize a GPU stick to the extent that they supported this feature called vMotion, which is where you can actually move a virtual machine between hosts seamlessly, without losing any performance. So that's been one of the major components and a recent advance.

John Naylor:

The other one has been from vendors like Mellanox, who, they're a network interface card manufacturer. They've got cards which actually have direct support in them for supporting some of the standardized streaming formats that are used in broadcast, such as SMPTE 2110. They basically provide the capability to, it's called traffic shaping, where you can precisely time when packets get presented to the network. So that's been another part, and then tying it all together has been VMware. They've really put a lot of focus recently into the media and entertainment vertical, and they've provided means of tuning their hypervisor ESXi and vSphere so that we can actually get reliable, low latency real-time performance, often of virtual machines that are hosted on vSphere.

Tyler Kern:

So John, what dangers still exist, or maybe what risks and barriers exist, that need to be overcome that you can really help your customers and your clients avoid, or maybe overcome in order to make this technology a little bit more widespread and widely used?

John Naylor:

As you mentioned at the beginning, it's still bleeding edge, and the way that we're helping our customers is that we basically work very closely with them during the commissioning phases, because the normal model is that the customers provide the infrastructure. So they're the ones who've bought the servers and the networking, and they can come from any vendor. The common touch point for us is that we only really support VMware as the virtualization layer. But in order to get real-time performance out of a server, it really does require a lot of tuning that goes all the way down to the BIOS level.

John Naylor:

So I think we're tuning performance at about three or four different levels, starting at the very low level of the BIOS. And then there's some tuning that needs to be done to the hypervisor and the actual firmware that's running on say the network interface cards. And then higher up, we tune the operating system that is running inside the virtual machine. And then of course, we actually have to be very careful about how our applications get launched so that they have the right process affinities and priorities settings. So that's really the full stack all the way from the, almost from the bare metal of the machine all the way up to the application that needs to be tuned very precisely in order to get the performance that's needed.

Tyler Kern:

Now you've mentioned VMware a couple of different times just over the course of this conversation, can you walk me through why it's so important to have close partnerships with technological partners to make this technology function?

John Naylor:

It's really because of the bleeding edge nature of the technology at the moment. There's no way we'd have things working at the moment if we weren't able to get direct help from application engineers, and senior ones at that, within VMware. And also a shout out to Mellanox. I've spent many, many hours on the phone in support with Mellanox getting the combination of our products and their products to actually work together in a way that delivers for the customer.

Tyler Kern:

Maybe as a way of summarizing here, as we're kind of coming close to the end of the interview, what is necessary to produce standard compliant streams from a virtualized graphic system?

John Naylor:

There are a couple of things that are needed. First of all, you're running in a data center, you need to be on generic hardware that you can find in any data center. That rules out the use of special purpose solutions to the problem of complying with the SMPTE 2110-21 streaming profile standard. Fortunately, Mellanox make the ConnectX series that actually does have direct support for traffic shaping on it. And the tuning that I mentioned earlier, part of it is setting the parameters of that NIC, so that it actually does the tubing. The other thing that they have on the NIC is a hardware PTP clock, or precision time protocol clock. And that's also the way that we get very precise timing into the virtual machine. Really the challenges that we have, one was knowing what time it was, down to plus or minus 59 seconds. That's really hard on a virtual machine, and Mellanox came through with a solution for that. And the other one is just traffic shaping, so really the key to success here is basically down to Mellanox.

Tyler Kern:

So John, tell me a little bit more about what excites you about the future of this technology, and maybe talk to me a little bit about how the industry looks different when this technology has reached maturity and it's a little bit more widely adopted. How do things look different in that world?

John Naylor:

Yeah, I think that what excites me is the prospect of moving what we've got currently working out of on-premises data centers and into the cloud. That's going to be the next significant challenge. And really it's a challenge of bandwidth and timing that, if you've got a server that's on premises, you can actually get very tight control over it and you can achieve the accuracy and the time it takes necessary to provide standards compliance streams. Once you reach the cloud, then you've got the twin challenges of getting your content up and down, and that's... The [inaudible 00:07:40] involved can make that very expensive. And that's coupled with the challenges of achieving the right timing tolerances within the cloud. Now, maybe there's a way that we can elide some of those tolerances and be less strict in the cloud in a way that's, it's still acceptable to customers. Maybe not, but that's one of the areas that's going to be an interesting challenge. And I think that it's going to be one of the areas where technologies such as JPEG XS are really going to be a key part of the solution.

Tyler Kern:

John Naylor, he is the technology strategists and director of product security at Ross Video. John, thank you so much for joining me today.

John Naylor:

You're welcome. Thanks very much. Have a great day.


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