News TV/Radio Deals

Sharjah Broadcasting Authority deploys Imagine solutions for new DR centre

Anas Hantash, Director, MENA & S Asia at Imagine Communications.

Sharjah Broadcasting Authority (SBA, formerly known as Sharjah Media Corporation) has worked with Imagine Communications to implement a disaster recovery solution for its backup center in Al Thaid, UAE, using software-defined technology in a primarily IP-connected environment. The hybrid disaster recovery site will provide full cover for SBA’s four television channels, which are delivered by a primary playout system also implemented by Imagine.

Ensuring business continuity and protection of the broadcaster’s archive, the new system supports the expansion of operations, including additional channels designed to reach fresh audiences within the Emirate and the region. This expansion will depend upon smart, new functionality, delivered by software-defined networks.

“This project is a really important step on our migration path towards IP networks and virtualization,” said Aisha Alzareef, broadcast technology & information systems director at Sharjah Broadcasting Authority.

“Collaborating with Imagine helps us ensure that our technical and operational teams understand the challenges of these new technologies. We have worked in close partnership with Imagine Communications since the foundation of our company 10 years ago, and with IP, we will be in a great position to prepare plans for future developments and the complete migration of our main playout centre.”

The key benefit of the disaster recovery playout system is in maintaining perfect synchronisation with the main site, with full content mirroring to allow seamless switchover in the event of any problems. To achieve this, the system is built on Imagine Communications’ Versio virtualised integrated playout solution, which is designed for geo-dispersed operations. Versio is a software application running on commercial off-the-shelf (COTS) hardware from Hewlett Packard Enterprises, providing full automation and playout functionality, along with servers and content management, graphics, storage, master control switching – and management of the synchronisation and mirroring.

As this is a major step in SBA’s migration towards IP connectivity, the system also needs to support legacy SDI content. To achieve this, the architecture includes a Platinum VX router and the Selenio MCP processing platform to provide SDI/IP conversion. Also supporting both connectivity systems is the EPIC MV multiviewer, which allows SBA to comprehensively monitor its entire operation. The system at SBA is under the control of Imagine’s Magellan™ SDN Orchestrator software control system, allowing it to easily manage and control its legacy infrastructure, while seamlessly incorporating next-gen technologies, switching and interworking between HD, Ultra HD and uncompressed real-time SMPTE ST 2110 streams.

“We are delighted to be continuing the journey with Sharjah Broadcasting Authority as they transition from their traditional playout facility towards the exploration of next-gen playout and networking technologies,” said Anas Hantash, head of Middle East and North Africa for Imagine Communications. “They recognise that software solutions running on standard COTS platforms and connected over IP are the future of broadcasting. Furthermore, they recognized that Imagine Communications was the pioneer of software-defined networks in the media and entertainment industry, and today lead the way with innovative, agile and adaptable solutions that enable the transition to next-gen IP-based architecture and business models tailored to their own pace of change.”

Sharjah Broadcasting Authority’s new disaster recovery centre went live in March 2019.