The rapid pace of change in the media industry demands that leading media organizations implement efficient and agile digital media processing capabilities to control costs and capitalize quickly on new business opportunities. However, achieving the full promise of file-based media workflows and the efficiencies they bring requires seamless interaction among products from different vendors. Therein lies the challenge: Getting disparate products to interoperate is like getting a group of individuals each speaking a different language to understand each other. The effort requires standards for more than just the words or the dialogue — i.e. the file formats. Seamless interaction also requires standardizing the way the dialogues are handled — i.e. the approaches to coordinating and connecting the components of media processing systems.
Most modern businesses today leverage service-oriented architectures (SOAs) to assemble agile business systems. Indeed, SOAs offer tremendous advantages to processing media for playout and distribution. A key element of SOA involves exposing system components as shared network-based services. Connections with services can then be created and reconfigured quickly to respond to changing requirements and demand.
The Framework for Interoperable Media Services (FIMS) was initiated as a joint project between the Advanced Media Workflow Association (AMWA) and the European Broadcasting Union (EBU) to create a common framework for applying SOA principles to processing media. FIMS standardizes service interface definitions for implementing media-related operations in a SOA. As one example of how it can be used, a system that ingests and prepares content for playout and nonlinear delivery can leverage FIMS to interact flexibly with media capture, transfer and transform products from multiple vendors. Using FIMS, system components can easily be added, updated and removed in response to changing business requirements and demand.
Although workflows are commonplace for moving, processing and storing media using software-centric systems deployed on commodity IT infrastructure, many software-based media processing systems suffer from problems endemic to older hardware and physical media-centric film and video processing systems. Whenever unique media processing requirements must be addressed — and let’s face it, what broadcaster does not have a unique requirement of some sort — there’s an expensive custom software integration project needed to delivered bespoke hardwired media processing silos.
Worse yet, many software-based systems use watch folders to hand off media between components of the system. While watch systems can allow multivendor interoperability and loose coupling, they create a whole new set of quality, reliability and management problems.