NAB: Harmonic Launches VOS to Simplify Video Infrastructures

Harmonic used its press conference on April 5th to launch Harmonic VOS, a major new software platform that the company says will be at the center of its efforts to streamline and simplify video production and delivery.

As part of that announcement it also unveiled the first VOS-based product, the Electra XVM. It is a virtual media processor combining advanced compression, playout and graphics capabilities

Providing a complete platform for handling video from creation and ingest to playout in a way that reduces costs and streamlines workflows will be one of the big themes at this year’s convention as broadcasters look to work with fewer vendors and expand the delivery of their content.

Harmonic said that VOS will enable completely virtualized media processing from a single software platform. It will combine a number of functions—ingest, playout, graphics, branding, compression, packaging, and delivery for broadcast and multiscreen applications—that are currently being done by separate boxes and systems.

Operating virtually in IT data center environments, VOS can scale up or down to accommodate peaks in demand based on capacity and functional requirements across all video services. It will also produce significant space and power savings by reducing the number of systems used in facilities.

"Harmonic VOS represents the future of video production and delivery, enabling the transformation to a software-defined, integrated, and operationally elastic infrastructure," said Patrick Harshman, president and CEO of Harmonic in a statement. "Video content providers and service providers want greater flexibility, speed, and the ability to leverage the cost-effective scale of IT environments. With VOS, our customers will be able to create and distribute new video content globally in a fraction of the time and with a fraction of the resources that it takes today, with better video quality, while leveraging public and private clouds."

Harmonic also announced Electra XVM, the first product to be delivered based on VOS. Electra XVM includes the vendor’s PURE Compression Engine, playout, advanced graphics, packaging and delivery features.

"Electra XVM represents a new kind of product — and a new kind of capability — for our industry," said Krish Padmanabhan, senior VP of video products for Harmonic in a statement. "It is completely virtual and completely IP, and offers unprecedented functional breadth and video quality. With workflow efficiency, bandwidth savings, and flexible cost models, it changes the economics and flexibility paradigms of content playout, distribution, and multiplatform service delivery."

During the press conference, Clyde Smith, senior VP of new technology at Fox Network Center explained that they had used a version of the system for the launch of Fox Sports 1.

"Media processing is inevitably moving into the software realm, increasing our operational flexibility while lowering operating costs," Smith said. "Harmonic is unique in virtualizing all aspects of media processing — not just encoding — into one architecture."

Harmonic will also demonstrate an end-to-end HEVC solution for delivering live 2160p60 10-bit Ultra HD content.

The demonstration is being done with Broadcom Corporation, Sigma Designs, Vigor Systems, and ViXS.

The Harmonic broadcast workflows used in the demo support the delivery of live, linear playout, and VOD Ultra HD content to TVs and set-top boxes.

"Harmonic is making Ultra HD a reality by offering the broadcast community an end-to-end solution for UHDTV content preparation and delivery," said Thierry Fautier, vice president, solutions and strategy at Harmonic in a statement. "At NAB, Harmonic will demonstrate how broadcasters can use our integrated video compression, storage, and delivery solutions to deliver 2160p60 10-bit content based on current joint EBU/DVB/SMPTE recommendations using consumer-grade technologies for decoding, connectivity, and display on Ultra HD TV sets."