Grass Valley recently announced the appointment of Barb DeHart as its director of alliances for the GV Media Universe. TV Tech Editor-in-Chief Tom Butts recently spoke with DeHart about her new role at the company.
TV Tech: Congratulations Barb on the new position. Can you tell me a little bit about yourself.
Barb DeHart: Well, I have spent my career in the media and entertainment technology sector. Very early in my career I worked with Grass Valley Group, many years ago when the company was owned by Tektronix.
I was also with Telestream for the better part of the last 20 years, doing lots of different things, but most recently as the vice president of Worldwide Marketing where I led the desktop software and cloud computing businesses. So I was involved in a very broad swath of software and hardware products in the media sector, ranging from everything from user-generated content, all the way up to the big traditional high-end broadcasters.
TVT: What brings you to Grass Valley?
BD: Well, I was really excited to learn more about the strategy to transition operations into the cloud. At GV we started to see at the lower end streaming applications that were used to produce and distribute lots of content over the open internet—and that's been happening for some time now.
But as we move up to the higher quality, higher-value content, some of the challenges associated with that become really difficult, where physics comes into play. Over the course of time, as we've seen broadband become more widely available and compression becoming better, technology advances now make it possible to do things at the really high end of the market that just weren't possible before.
So I learned more about Grass Valley’s Media Universe strategy and how the company was solving some of the really hard technical problems. There is an alignment across the company about creating this vision for a media ecosystem where we have cloud resident services where they make sense and cloud-connected solutions where that makes sense, so I just feel like the strategy is smart.
TVT: Can you explain your new role?
BD: When we look at what the cloud enables Grass Valley to do with its products and the traditional sectors that it plays in, that's one thing, but you know, operating in the cloud can be significantly more complex. This adds a whole new level of technology such as DevOps and understanding the requirements of doing things like spinning things up in the cloud. It's a new area for many of our media customers.
One of the early ideas around the GV Media Universe and GV AMPP (Agile Media Processing Platform) was that not only did we want to bring what Grass Valley did to the cloud, we also wanted to enable solving some of those hard problems for others and bringing more partners into the ecosystem with us so that we can make a frictionless user experience for customers across the board, whether that be provisioning cloud instances or adding new capabilities to workflows.
That’s really at the core of the Alliance's strategy and I came on board to develop the strategies around how to build a scalable partnership ecosystem for the media universe.
TVT: How exactly does the alliance work with third parties to integrate with AMPP?
BD: There are different levels of integration that we will make available. Some of those are simple interoperability issues, so validating that encoders can pull consented content, for example.
But then we also look at hardware-based capabilities where we can build connectors to bring and integrate things more directly into AMPP. So being able to do that with a broad swath of partner companies that play into the ecosystem—for example, cloud wind routing or HTML5 graphics or 3D graphics—these ecosystem partners will require different levels of integration. And we’ll be developing a marketplace for our partners that come into the AMPP system that will utilize our onboarding and our sales teams so that all of our customers will have access to those integrated solutions.
TVT: What are the key drivers for companies that want to partner with AMPP?
BD: There's three key drivers. One is that we work together as companies to create a frictionless user experience. So whether that is connecting with another cloud-resident SaaS solution or doing deeper levels of integration with a third-party solution so there's integrated solutions for your customers, where all of the hard questions are already answered, all the hard work is done.
Second, becoming part of the AMPP marketplace gives our partners the ability to have easy access to the Grass Valley customer base. And third, Grass Valley will provide our partners first-level support, providing frontline support to the customers.
So again our goal is to create this frictionless environment where you can have a cloud-connected ecosystem and have one place to purchase it, deploy it and support it.
TVT: What types of companies are we talking about? For example, I can imagine that there's probably a lot of interest in the esports side of things for this.
BD: Our recent AMPP customers are both leading esports companies, EA CGE and Gfinity, and we've had a lot of traction from that kind of cloud-native operations sector, but I would say that the response for AMPP in general has been very wide, from corporate customers all the way up to professional broadcasters.
And I think it's going to become increasingly more so as AMPP raises more and more capabilities to the solution, or to the market—both from the things that we're developing natively as well as the partner solutions coming to market.
TVT: I know that you're new to the company, but how have the events of the past year—with the increased emphasis on remote production—affected the market for AMPP?
BD: It's affected it in a very positive way for us. As you can imagine, when all production was in essence shut down, it created an opportunity for AMPP. We already had spent several years incubating the AMPP strategy, so when the pandemic hit and productions were shut down, it was a pretty easy lift to get things actually out into production.
I think the timeliness of this really challenging environment we've been in for the last year has really helped AMPP, I think we've seen it across the board. We're all using Zoom, interacting in completely different ways and so I think the receptivity and the demand for these solutions has helped the adoption and interest in AMPP dramatically
TVT: When will you begin to announce partnerships?
BD: We're hoping to announce our first one in the next month or so. What we're going to do probably is announce the overall partner program once we have things finalized, and we have things like the SDK and documentation and things we want to have ready for the market. Then we will start rolling out a series of announcements with specific partners.
All the partners that I talked to are very enthusiastic about it!
Tom Butts has been the editor in chief of TV Technology since 2001. He started out in this industry reporting for member communications for the National Association of Broadcasters in 1995. He is also former editor of DTV Business for Phillips Publishing (now Access Intelligence) and launched digitalbroadcasting.com for VerticalNet in 1999. He is a graduate of the University of Maine.
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