European Space Agency

Asset Management

AddToAny

Objectives

The purpose of the Cast4All Content Conductor software suite is to create a complete turnkey solution for satellite-based content distribution management in general, and digital cinema networks in particular. This implies a fully integrated solution for the operation of such networks, including reliable and secure transmission, but also network management, distributed content management, dynamic scheduling, and allocation of resources. It also implies a distributed system with zero-administration effort at the remote sites.

The project aims to develop three independent functionalities or components for such rich content distribution networks:

  • Network management: the integrated monitoring, control, and auto-configuration of all network elements.

  • Asset management: the integrated management of all assets and asset replicas over distributed network.

  • Dispatch scheduling: the automated allocation of movie storage and satellite bandwidth, including scheduling of transmissions.
Integrated into the existing functionality of the Content Conductor software suite, these final components will provide a one-stop shop solution for digital cinema networks, and will act as an enabling technology for these networks.

Challenges

The key issues in the project are:


  • The dynamic auto-configuration of the network, allowing flexible transmission channels with zero remote administration,

  • The management of the satellite network elements in a heterogeneous environment with multi-vendor equipment,

  • The dynamic allocation and optimised scheduling of satellite bandwidth.

Benefits

The integration of the components in the overall Content Conductor suite will provide operators of digital cinema networks with a unique integrated solution. It will avoid the need for these operators to implement separate solutions for network management, content management, and resource scheduling. In this way, it will act as an enabling technology to boost the deployment of such content networks in general and digital cinema networks in particular.

Features

The system software architecture is based on the overall system architecture developed by Cast4All for the Digital Cinema Pilot Application. As represented in the high-level data flow representation, the central transactional business logic for content distribution is connected to four interface components:


  1. Order entry for distributed content management and delivery,

  2. Provisioning and management of central equipment and content,

  3. Provisioning and management of remote equipment and content,

  4. Logging, billing, and back-office processing for service transactions.


click for larger image

In this system architecture, the target components of this project are located in the lower right and upper left corner. The network management needs to be extended, in order to provide:

  • Full monitoring and control of all remote equipment of various types,

  • Full auto-configuration of remote equipment with zero administration,

  • Full auto-detection and manipulation of content on remote equipment.
Based on all information and remote management features, the service order or application view will provide the business user with:

  • Integrated content management view for all assets and replicas over the entire distributed network and during their entire lifecycle,

  • Order entry and complete lifecycle management of business orders, specifying the presence of content at remote network nodes during a certain period in time.

Plan

The project plan is divided into three phases with corresponding milestones:


  • Requirement specification and design, resulting in a Basic Design Review mid November 2004,

  • Implementation and unit testing, resulting in a Mid-Term acceptance Review at the beginning of March 2005,

  • Integration and overall system testing, resulting in a Final Review in the middle of 2005.

Current status

The specified software components have been designed, implemented, and tested. The test procedures were performed first on a closed-loop testbed, involving both the unit testing of every component and specified function, and the integration testing of the entire process flow of content distribution.

The integrated solution has been deployed on a live satellite network, with five sites in Belgium and The Netherlands over a period of eight weeks. In this period, transmissions were performed in five separate slots, each 2-4 days long with a bandwidth between 2 and 6 Mbps. This resulted in the successful delivery of 261 Gbyte, corresponding to 4 digital movies and several tens of movie commercials. During the entire 8-week period, the five remote stations reported and reconfigured themselves every 5 minutes, corresponding to a total number of 80,000 reports and auto-configurations.

The described system is a fully integrated solution or operational support system for digital cinema, currently unique in the market. It provides complete integration and process automation, and requires far less - if any - manual interventions at remote sites than existing solutions. Exactly this number of manual interventions, proportional to the number of remote sites, proved to be a technological barrier for the wide-scale deployment of digital cinema networks. The developed solution has been acquired by the Belgian EVS Group for the internal operations of its digital cinema company XDC, and is actively being promoted worldwide as the EVS CineStore Delta for professional content distribution to cinema theatres and/or cable head-ends.

The Belgian company Automation has acquired an extended version of the network management component, in order to manage its own network of containerized power solutions. Branded as the Telecom Site Management System, it is also being implemented at one, and being offered to several other, major European telecommunication companies.

Contacts

Status date

Friday, June 20, 2008 - 12:08