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TECHNOLOGIES Being a hardware manufacturer is a great thing. It allows you to design the totality of the product and the user’s experience of it, to create a plug-and-play appliance that is uniquely fitted to its task. And there are plenty of tasks that are best done with the help of a piece of dedicated hardware, for many reasons. An ‘appliance’ can save the user the trouble of installing and setting up software to run on a general purpose platform; it can provide all the required interfaces, ready for easy integration; it can be far more robust physically, and able to tolerate extreme conditions; it can be almost maintenance-free; and it can be much more efficient with energy consumption. VIRTUALLY THERE… MEDIA MONITORING GOES BEYOND HARDWARE. With all these advantages, it’s not surprising that hardware manufacturers can sometimes appear over-zealous in their advocacy of dedicated equipment. In some circumstances, another approach might be more appropriate. Sometimes, it’s necessary to think outside the box. For many years, the trend in our industry has been towards using a general-purpose computing platform as the engine for much of the workload in producing and distributing media content. From the early development of broadcast graphics and editing solutions using personal computers, to today’s massive data-centre hosted regional and global media operations, the computer has carved out more and more territory for itself as a tool for broadcasters. That’s not to say that everything can or should be done by servers. For the reasons mentioned above, dedicated hardware can get the job done more effectively in many parts of the production and delivery chain. And parts of that chain are still very much in the broadcast domain, staffed by engineers who are in their comfort zone cabling racks of discrete, dedicated pieces of broadcast technology. But with the widespread and growing use of IP in the media industry, other parts of the chain are no longer a natural environment for broadcast kit – and neither for dedicated hardware appliances. This poses a potential monitoring problem for media organisations in that ‘horses for courses’ may be a good idea in principle, but so is ‘the end-to-end solution’, and the two might seem incompatible at first. It’s not ideal, in other words, to have dedicated monitoring products in a broadcast rack, and specialised IP monitoring products elsewhere in the chain – because they don’t talk to each other, and the end-to-end collection and correlation of data therefore becomes impossible. by Simen Frostad, Chairman of Bridge Technologies 62 | KITPLUS - THE TV-BAY MAGAZINE: ISSUE 108 DECEMBER 2015 The logical way to resolve this problem is to have fundamentally the same technology available in both hardware form and in software, so that there is a coherent monitoring solution encompassing the broadcast production centre, the (possibly