In this interview, Dr. Alexander Hackmann, Senior Business Development Manager at Rohde & Schwarz explains the strategic importance of this product to a company that has 70 years heritage as a hardware-based broadcast solution provider.

Please tell us about PRISMON.cloud and it’s the drivers in its development?
R&S PRISMON.cloud is a cloud-based A/V OTT monitoring solution that broadcasters and content providers can deploy quickly and without dedicated hardware. An intuitive analysis dashboard displays the latest quality of service (QoS) data to respond to errors in real time. A flexible and scalable pricing model allows users to reduce investment costs (CAPEX) by ordering their individual monitoring services based on current requirements.
We see that constantly changing consumer behavior means OTT service providers have to adapt to new transmission paths. Permanent error monitoring and the resulting quality assurance, especially of audio and video data, are the key to high customer satisfaction. R&S PRISMON.cloud is designed to enable OTT providers to quickly and easily adapt their monitoring infrastructure, for example when peak loads during the transmission of large events require extended service. Thanks to the easy-to-use setup wizard, it only takes minutes to add new virtual sensors and connect them to the dashboard at any time. A live multiview function, automated analysis of A/V data and error detection in real time make it possible to measure the QoS, store it in a cloud and visualize it in a timeline format on a web interface.

How will this new product integrate and enhance your existing on-premise PRISMON monitoring family?
In combination with the widely used on-premise R&S PRISMON monitoring solution, analysis data from physical and virtual sensors can be displayed in a single dashboard creating valuable synergies for our customers. End-to-end analyses quickly and easily reveal errors such as deterioration of video or audio quality or poor CDN performance as a cause of churn – with just one tool.
PRISMON.cloud is offered as a Monitoring-as-a-Service (MaaS) product. This is important since this model allows our software engineering team to continuously develop R&S PRISMON.cloud and keep users up to date with regular updates – even on mobile phones and tablets.

So does this product introduction signpost a complete migration over to virtualized monitoring solutions at Rohde & Schwarz?
No, definitely not – we still see an important role for on-premise solutions. Without doubt, virtualization is a key technological evolution focus and it will empower many broadcast and media organizations to work more efficiently and more profitably. But, there is a danger that the perception of this new technology can advance beyond reality.
PRISMON.cloud monitors in a decentralized environment on virtual machines which are placed behind the CDN, extending the customers reach outside their premise and covering more error sources. This makes it interesting for broadcasters and also for providers of CDN platforms.
However, virtualization is not the answer for every scenario, in every scale of operation. Before embarking on a voyage towards virtualization, the user must ask themselves some fundamental questions.
Firstly, does the user prefer flexibility in his production and distribution workflows, which is one of the key advantages of a virtualized environment. Or in contrast, does he prefer the operational efficiency that on-premise installations offer, especially in 24/7 media processing operations? Quite simply, if the workflow is stable and not subject to modification very often then a software-based system solution running on a bare-metal on-premise installation would be preferable. Target setting of this type is a fundamental conversation we have with our customers at the start of any virtualization project.

Is it possible to manage the full range of sophisticated IT-centric data streams within a virtualized environment?
Yes, but if broadcasters are migrating from a broadcast specific standards and interface landscape to a generic IT/IP environment, then the migration has to be complete in order to realise the potential benefits of this new environment. However, life is never black and white – there are many shades of grey and this is where the strength of the relationship between the user and technology partner becomes so important during the transition phase.
To meet this challenge requires the skillsets of two different types of people – hardware engineers and software developers. At Rohde & Schwarz, we have built our reputation over many decades on our hardware engineering capabilities. But also, PRISMON is a software-based product that is over 10 years in development. During this time, we have developed excellent software development skillsets and these are valuable when we address the needs of virtualized workflows.
With all these skillsets, we can help customers: proving both advice and support throughout the signal processing chain and also on how the virtualized infrastructure is being set up. In order to maximise data throughput and stability, we can optimize the data processing throughput in a virtualized framework.
The question is how does a broadcaster tame that asynchronous IT/IP world in ways that enable viewers to consume AV content in manner they are familiar and happy with? PRISMON.cloud sensors open up entirely new opportunities while enjoying the well-known Rohde & Schwarz reliability and quality.
It requires specialist knowledge and skillsets, but the big challenge is to customize a virtualized environment to the specific needs of that user – this is where the strength of the relationship between the customer and the technology partner is so important.

So, where can I readers find out more about PRISMON.cloud?R&S PRISMON.cloud is available in two service packages: SILVER.sensors and GOLD.sensors as well as a free one month TRIAL.sensor. These packages can be ordered in the Rohde & Schwarz App Store as three-month and twelve-month subscriptions. For more information about the service packages, visit www.rohde-schwarz.com/product/prismon-cloud