Harmonic Eyes New, Vibrant Video Economy

SAN JOSE, CALIF.—With an eye on technologies that touch on everything from content contribution all the way through delivery, Harmonic comes to NAB to showcase a larger, revamped company poised to target the changing video economy.

Omneon Spectrum Media Center After acquiring Omneon the video production and playout firm, in September 2010 for $273 million, the new Harmonic comes to NAB to showcase new solutions that help support today's expanding video economy, one that is being driven by the emergence of alternative distribution models.

"As both companies were looking at the marketplace, we saw changes happening in the landscape of the television industry," said Geoff Stedman, senior vice president of corporate marketing for Harmonic. "Omneon was a company more traditionally on the content production side of the video marketplace; Harmonic typically was more focused on the service provider and delivery marketplace.

"Up until the last couple of years, those two markets were separate from one another," he said. "But over the last few years, we've seen a combination of those two ecosystems."


Much of that demand is being driven by multiscreen viewing. "In bringing these two markets together, we were hoping to create a unique provider [that is] able to handle the lifecycle of content… and to build an end-to-end video infrastructure," he said.

At NAB, the company will introduce the Omneon Spectrum MediaCenter, a new multichannel video server that offers 4 to 12 channels in a single server configuration and couples together lower-cost storage to minimize the cost of multichannel ingest and playout.

Targeted toward local and regional stations, the MediaCenter offers up to 16 TB of SATA storage, providing more than 600 hours at 50 Mbps, and supports 600 Mbps of bandwidth. The system supports up to six externally connected Spectrum MediaPort I/O modules for real-time ingest and play-out of video and audio content. By eliminating external Fibre Channel storage cabling, it also reduces space and power requirements by collapsing the space required for ingest and play-out.

"We've lowered the complexity for those small stations, and that lowers the cost," Stedman said.

The company will also showcase new modules for the Omneon Spectrum media server system. Known as the new Omneon MediaPort 7000 Series, these video I/O modules are designed to streamline play-out workflows and simplify the transition to HD, the company said. The 7000 Series enables the Spectrum to support any range of codecs, formats, frame rates and resolutions. Available in two- or four-channel configurations, the 7000 Series utilizes a slot-based form factor that offers fairly simple addition of channels to existing systems.

"This next-generation media platform is designed to provide a combination of more media processing functionality and more codec support, which allows us to give our customers in a single device what would have taken several devices to achieve," Stedman said.

Geoff Stedman, senior vice president of corporate marketing, Harmonic Features include any combination of SD and HD back-to-back DV and MPEG-2 playback; optional support for additional codecs; simultaneous SDI and HD-SDI outputs for each channel; and a 1RU frame with dual hot-pluggable power supplies. The first two configurations will include MediaPort 7100 and the MediaPort 7600.


The company will also offer updates to its Omneon MediaGrid shared storage system that is based on a clustered storage-type architecture used for storing media data and supporting media and production workflows. "While MediaGrid offers the best value proposition from a bandwidth perspective, the way we were managing the data and data production made it higher priced," Stedman said. The company has introduced a new, higher density type of storage node to the MediaGrid that improves storage efficiency and lowers the cost. "By moving to RAID technology we give up a little bit of read performance, but the cost is down by a significant amount. That adds a lot of value for customers," he said.

This year will mark the first NAB for the newly merged company, which will have one booth on the upper floor (Distribution and Delivery) and one on the lower floor (Production and Play-out) of the South Hall. And the goal is to show off a stronger company with an even wider scope of solutions.

"The video economy is a vibrant, dynamic place," Stedman said. "It's not just traditional television anymore. There's a whole economy built around watching video anytime and any place. A much broader video economy is emerging. Our goal is to enable customers to take advantage of it, and deliver content out to consumers."

Susan Ashworth

Susan Ashworth is the former editor of TV Technology. In addition to her work covering the broadcast television industry, she has served as editor of two housing finance magazines and written about topics as varied as education, radio, chess, music and sports. Outside of her life as a writer, she recently served as president of a local nonprofit organization supporting girls in baseball.