Why broadcasters are adopting KVM

The proliferation of new entrants, such as Facebook and Netflix, into the broadcast space is creating a huge demand for content, which in turn has seen the UK experience an unprecedented level of investment in IP-based production spaces. This drive for new content is fuelling growth, as existing content management companies, studios, post-production houses and outside broadcast companies accelerate their plans to refurbish equipment and spaces to meet the demands for extra content, bandwidth and higher definition.

As these new purpose-built facilities emerge across the UK, broadcasters are moving their hardware offsite to maximise their production space and must ensure mission-critical remote access with low latency. That is why, over the past decade, Argosy has noted a rise in requests by installers and customers to supply keyboard, video, mouse (KVM) products, to support the increasing use of computer hardware within broadcast and post-production installations.

A hardware device that connects a keyboard, video display and mouse to multiple computers, the KVM switch has been in use for quite some time in other industries such as medical engineering, air traffic control, banking and audio visual (AV), all markets that run mission critical operations over IP and that require security and resilience.

Within broadcast, the IP-based production workflow now connects the broadcast infrastructure to the wider global IT infrastructure, cost-effectively improving networking and signal transportation. Such networks need to be supported by IP-based 4K-ready switching and extension products such as kvm-tec’s 4K-ready extender.

An early entrant to the 4K-ready market, kvm-tec provides near to zero latency whilst hitting the right price point and can work alongside a huge range of applications as it doesn’t carry the traditional USB chipset. As the exclusive distributor of kvm-tec products in the UK, Argosy was particularly thrilled to be able to offer this option as early as two years ago to broadcast and post-production customers. Argosy also offers a variety of other different options from both kvm-tec and ATEN, each addressing a different part of the broadcast market.

While KVM is more widely adopted within the post-production environment, which presents more high-end over IP requirements, it is now making its way into OB trucks and studios. As broadcasters seek to protect their data and video streams, they are increasingly removing PCs from the working floor and KVM is their answer.

KVM is not just a one trick pony, it is being used for hundreds of different mission critical applications across Europe. KVM allows individual endpoints such as PCs, monitors, and so on, to behave passively when controlled via the software. This results in less data traffic on large systems, as the end point only requires information at the moment of switching. These extenders, combined with a standard network switch, reduce cabling requirements and therefore, networking costs.

Most recently, a large, world-renowned UK public service broadcaster, successfully used IP-based KVM technology provided by Argosy to extend the reach of its touchscreen interfaces between operational and local apparatus rooms and its national headquarters in London. During the project, operational impact was kept to a minimum, as the machines were securely installed in restricted areas thanks to the KVM extenders to minimise the risk to interruption of services.

The beauty of the KVM switch is that it allows broadcasters to save space, reduce running costs, shrink cabling requirements and declutter their desktops and control desks, studios, production spaces and outside broadcast vehicles. It makes broadcasters more productive, as it can also allow single users to access hardware and software across multiple locations, often great distances apart. It’s a win-win all around.

By Daniel Hinton, Sales Manager, Europe at Argosy