On Sencore’s ‘Afiniti’ for the Caveman’s dilemma
Back in the days of the cavemen the wheel was invented, and there was much rejoicing. People started to stick wheels on everything. You couldn’t go to the annual IBC tradeshow (International Brave Cavemen tradeshow) without finding a wheel on every corner.
But soon, the cavemen started to realize that whilst wheels were… well, revolutionary… in a number of ways, wheels didn’t perform so well in certain contexts. Descending bumpy mountains, for instance. Climbing up steps. In these contexts, wheels weren’t just a bit gimmicky, they were an actual hindrance. It was something of a Caveman’s dilemma.
Several millennia later, and we find ourselves in a similar position. But this time it’s not wheels but clouds that are in the hot seat.
Understanding the context of the Cloud
The last couple of years have seen migration to the cloud across an entire range of industries, technologies, and products, and that goes doubly-so for the broadcast industry. There are many good reasons for this migration; reasons that we fully support at Sencore (both conceptually and technologically). Cloud-based broadcast processes and services allow people to collaborate from across the globe, operating on a remote and distributed basis. They allow people to access different, isolated components of unified services in a way that suits them, on a scale that meets their (changing) needs, without the need to tie up capital in an upfront infrastructure investment. The Cloud can leverage the power of coordination, collaboration and (de)centralization.
But there’s another C word that’s crucial: context. Realizing the benefits of the Cloud requires careful understanding of the context in which one is operating. Despite the amazing benefits of the Cloud, in some contexts it is simply inefficient; for broadcast operations which have steady, high capacity throughflow and demand (for instance, in terms of compression and transcoding), then a dedicated piece of on-site hardware remains the unrivalled approach to achieving consistent, reliable, cost-effective, energy-conscious, ultra-fast results.
IBC 2023: Sharing the Sencore Mindset
The idea that context is King and that the Cloud is, as with any new tool (yes, we’re looking at you too, AI) not a universal salve to all of broadcast’s problems, but a weapon to be wielded carefully and precisely – is something we’ve long recognized at Sencore. So, it was pleasing for us that our take-home from IBC was that the industry is becoming more tempered, considered and critical approach to Cloud deployment.
Of course, it’s to be expected: new technological developments will always be launched with much fanfare, accompanied by claims that they will revolutionize the world. And like the wheel, some wheel… sorry, we mean will. But that revolution is a process; one that sees things explode, have their limits tested, seek adjustment, become scaled back, and eventually find their groove: leveraging all of the benefits of the technology in the right context, and avoiding all of the drawbacks that come from using it in the wrong one. In that sense, you might call technological progress a process of Goldilocksing.
And so this year was very much the Goldilocks year of IBC – progressing from all-in hardware a decade ago (Mommy bear), to all-in virtual environments just a year or two ago (Daddy bear), to arrive at a perfect balance of hybrid offerings that are far more nuanced in their understanding of the need to match application with context (juuuuust right).
Afiniti: in safe hands
Of course, whilst we were pleased to see our industry peers start to align with the mindset we’ve held for some time now, we couldn’t spend too much time contemplating it because our own booth was constantly packed, and thus demanded all our attention.
We were particularly pleased to welcome a whole set of new people to the booth; namely, existing Afiniti users. After our acquisition of this remarkable encoder and decoder platform, we were keen to reassure existing users that they would continue to receive exceptional support and customer service. We’re confident that they left the booth convinced of Sencore’s unmatched reputation in the field, and we will endeavor not only to continue to meet and exceed the expectations of existing Afiniti users, but also draw new users into the fold – offering the expert analysis, advice and guidance needed to help organizations strategically combine elements of the full Sencore portfolio to ensure reliable, efficient, high-quality broadcast, whatever the operational context.
Centra remains central to Sencore’s mission
Also important at the booth this year was Centra, which has been building rapidly on the success of its launch last year. It is precisely Centra’s ability to harness elements of the Cloud and combine them with in-situ hardware that supports Sencore’s belief in hybrid systems: exploiting the various advantages of disparate technological components by bringing them together, deploying them in a context-specific and strategically considered manner, and providing the perfect system – Centra – to coordinate, oversee and manage them.
So, whilst there might be a fair few millennia separating us from the caveman, and more than a little technological development since that time, it’s interesting to see how some things don’t change – particularly when it comes to innovation. Of course, the excitement that accompanies big leaps forward is important and warranted – but it’s a natural part of the innovation process that we must then learn to sit with the technology for a while, understand its nuances and become more critical about how and when to apply them. It’s not a case of tempering enthusiasm for the new technology, but about appreciating it more deeply. And when it comes to the Cloud, we’re pleased to see that – if IBC is anything to go by – that new, evolved stage of understanding is now upon us as an industry.