For an organisation with the sheer size, scope and number of channels under control that MediaHub has, the prospect of moving the majority of their operations offsite is no mean feat. That said not only did MediaHub achieve this incredible feat during these recent and most challenging of times, but they did so without any interruption of service to their many clients.
Head of Operations Scott Jolly explained, “As part of the mitigation of COVID-19 impacting MediaHub operations, our senior management team made the decision early to move to remote working wherever possible. The consequences of a COVID-19 outbreak within the facility would have been very serious for all concerned. In addition, as an essential service providing critical news updates from the prime minister, federal and state government officials as well as the chief medical officer across both metro and regional television and radio services across the entire county, we simply could not allow this to happen.”
MediaHub’s requirements for a Work From Home (WFH) solution were to quickly and effectively move to remote operations, in the first instance for all administration staff and then quickly followed by operational divisions.
Jolly continued, “It was essential for frontline operations staff to have a remote working solution as closely aligned to what they would have if they were actually at MediaHub. This meant investing in additional devices including laptops, Chromecasts®, tablets and monitors for each of the team which in turn allowed each operator to recreate their usual workspace at home in a familiar set up.”
MediaHub’s smart investment and the fact many of their platforms are cloud based enabled them to move their ingest, playout, network operations centre (NOC), IT and engineering support to remote operations quickly and seamlessly.
MediaHub head of technology Simon Scott added, “We collaborated with a number of vendor partners such as Magna Systems, Grass Valley, Akamai and RTS to set up our users with a fully-functioning work from home solution. This included GV for remote control platform software, Akamai for CDN and security services and RTS VLink Virtual Comms to extend our talkback system over the internet. This integrated solution meant that not only had we achieved a level of sophistication that enabled our staff to completely operate the system from home, but there were significant savings in terms of operations space and equipment as we didn’t need to build a remote DR suite.”
This smart solution also meant MediaHub could operate under any possible broadcast scenario quite easily, without restrictions, quickly and efficiently without a single drop in Service Level Agreements (SLA) for any of MediaHub’s clients.
The smarts didn’t stop there as MediaHub also provided low latency live streams of their monitoring multi-viewer outputs delivered using Akamai CDN and via standard streaming players to their users in their homes. This meant the MediaHub team could now see their monitoring screens on their standard home TV – a major part of the WFH solution.
One of the early challenges MediaHub did face though was how to deliver a full featured ‘at home’ experience for their operations team when clearly they had no control over their team members’ ISP at home and no choice in their users’ connectivity which varied between 4G, 5G, FTTN, FTTP and HFC. All of which in turn affected the home user’s ISP network congestion during their most active periods.
Scott added, “Operators would be clocking on and off shifts, overlapping access to live video feeds and systems and more than one user might require access to the same multi-viewer generated screen. So we made a call early into the process to adopt a live OTT approach to the WFH solution. We partnered with Akamai to deliver this consistent delivery to our users across their CDN platform regardless of their ISP access. This also allowed ease of access to the streams by any of the devices our staff were using and flexibility to scale out the number of people monitoring the streams.”
Security was another key issue within the MediaHub WFH solution and one they solved by again partnering with Akamai to provide distributed and encrypted remote access service to their systems. This allowed staff to access MediaHub’s platforms’ remote control surfaces via any internet connected device with the Akamai service also providing additional levels of security and monitoring far beyond a traditional VPN solution.
According to MediaHub CEO Alan Sweeney (pictured below) the key to the success of their unique WFH solution was the total buy-in from the entire MediaHub team – something he is very proud of.
Sweeney said, “The acceptance and approach from all of the staff was exemplary and they were incredibly supportive in testing the solutions remotely and then embracing the challenges of working from home. Our gratitude also extends to the families of our team particularly over the past few challenging months. As a result of our team and the WFH solution we have implemented I’m delighted to say that our client base were not only very impressed we got on the front foot early and planned accordingly to protect their outputs, but also that their services have not been disrupted in any way and it has been 100% business as usual from their point of view.”