Very specific AIMS

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PROVIDING IP UNIFORMITY: Martin Dyster and Michael Cronk

The momentum behind the AIMS Alliance for IP Media Solutions continues to grow rapidly six months on from the group’s formation. David Davies assesses its objectives and talks to some of its supporters.

If you have attended any broadcast trade show over the past few years you will have found it impossible to avoid the surfeit of new solutions designed to facilitate the transition from SDI to IP-based workflows. Flexibility of distribution, increased cost-efficiency and a more straightforward set-up and operation are among the factors informing a change that is undoubtedly one of the most significant in modern broadcasting history.

But while the technological impetus isn’t hard to divine, clarity in the market – and in the messaging to potential customers – hasn’t been quite so easy to identify. Established in Q4 2015, the AIMS Alliance for IP Media Solutions has been created in part to try and provide some of this much-needed uniformity, particularly when it comes to the commercial messaging surrounding IP.

Simply put, the AIMS Alliance promotes the adoption and implementation of a number of existing IP standards, including the Video Services’ Forum TR-03 (Transportation of Uncompressed Elementary Stream Media over IP) and TR-04, SMPTE 2022-6 (enabling SDI signals to be transported over IP using the Real-Time Transport Protocol) and the AES67 (audio over IP interoperability).

Indicating that the initiative is timely indeed given the current growth of IP-based workflows, the AIMS website currently cites 21 full members – ranging from leading vendors such as Grass Valley, Evertz, Lawo and Sony, to content producers including 21st Century Fox – as well as 11 associate members.

“I would say that our primary purpose as an organisation is really to sit beneath other groups that are developing or promoting IP standards, and help to encourage their adoption throughout the broadcast industry,” says AIMS chairman Michael Cronk, who is also vice-president core technology at Grass Valley.

Providing clarity

Certainly, the impression given by the companies to have joined the alliance is that they hope the new organisation will provide some welcome clarity to the IP debate. No one underestimates the amount of work that lies ahead, so encouraging vendors, broadcasters and service providers to collaborate on workflow optimisation can only be seen as a positive development.

“We are very much looking forward to our membership at AIMS and to supporting the standardisation process in the shift from SDI to IP,” says Broadcast Solutions GmbH CEO Stefan Breder. “The development and acceptance of open standards in the IP realm is paramount to us, since it ensures the easy interoperability of different equipment in broadcast environments. To integrate all different kinds of equipment in projects is our daily business and we are pleased to contribute to the aim of AIMS.”

Another member of the Alliance to have commented extensively on its reasons for joining is EMG, a leading European provider of broadcast facilities and services.

“Having an open standard is crucial to enable our industry to make the right and necessary investments and, via AIMS, we are able to have a strong voice in the future of the standards,” said EMG CTO Ronald Meyvisch.

“EMG is excited about the new possibilities and workflows we will be able to offer to our customers thanks to an IP-based virtualised infrastructure. To achieve this, broadcasters, manufacturers and service providers need to work together towards open standards and guaranteed interoperability between all vendors.”

Education and adoption

With the core standards that the group wishes to see adopted, it follows that much of the work to be undertaken by Alliance members will revolve around education of broadcast technicians and other end-users.

As Breder observes: “A major part of the AIMS roadmap is to facilitate the education and adoption of open standard; this includes tests in real-world environments. In a way we are much closer to the customers than manufacturers and can provide an additional perspective to what the customer needs, when it comes to IP-based broadcast workflows. With as many as possible companies joining the AIMS, I am sure the association will play an important role as one of the prominent educational counterparts.”

These sentiments are echoed by Martin Dyster, business development, TV, vice-president at Linear Acoustic, part of AIMS member the Telos Alliance.

“It is essential that organisations like AIMS continue to reinforce the message that media over IP is the logical roadmap for broadcast moving forward and that interoperability via standards based protocols is essential to its success. Trade bodies, manufacturers, educators, the press and broadcasters alike must continue to take their responsibility seriously and recognise the importance of training the industry in IT skills while equating what is learnt directly to new and efficient broadcast workflows,” he says.

It is very early days, of course, but in terms of numbers and influence alone, it appears that the AIMS Alliance is set to play a critical role in smoothing that transition.

By David Davies

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