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11 April 2019

Haivision SRTHub steals NAB show as momentum mounts

The first and only time we have earmarked a single company as the buzzword of a major tradeshow was AWS back at IBC 2017, hardly a surprise given its scale, which makes the achievements of a little company called Haivision all the more remarkable – a name which was scarcely off people’s lips for the duration of NAB 2019.

Perhaps best known as a founding member of the SRT Alliance, Haivision has been blown away by interest since open sourcing the technology two years ago, yet it was a product hot off the press which was garnering all the attention at a packed NAB stand. Called SRTHub, the technology is ripe for disruption in its fledgling state after launching last week – in the sense there are virtually endless possibilities.

SRTHub is a new media routing cloud service enabling low latency live streaming and fast file transfer – using SRT running on Microsoft Azure – by routing media from IoT-connected video encoders to production facilities. The idea is that streamlined field contribution reduces complexity and shortens time-to-air for breaking news and live events – thereby bringing live video contribution, production and distribution workflows to broadcasters globally through a secure and reliable architecture. Unveiling SRTHub pre-NAB was really a call to arms, with Haivision imploring companies to come forward to test the technology.

“People are losing their minds over this,” exclaimed Haivision’s VP of Product Marketing Marcus Schioler, and we can see why. The idea of a hub harnessing Microsoft Azure’s reach and capacity, running an open framework for people to play with, is a potential game changer for the broadcast industry. SRTHub delivers routing of live linear 24/7 channels and live events for distribution to OTT data centers or affiliates – the bottom line being SRTHub provides broadcasters with a cost-effective and agile alternative to satellite transmission.

A panel session at the show invited a mixed bunch of executives to weigh in with their experience with the SRT protocol, as well as early impressions of SRTHub and projections for the future. Aljazeera noted how SRTHub addresses the challenges of covering unpredictable events by getting content to the cloud – finalizing its futuristic sounding “newsroom in the cloud” project in August last year. Swedish video synchronisation technology firm Net Insight joined in the SRT back-patting party and is eager to get the protocol deployed in its product lines in the second half of this year.

An unexpected move on Haivision’s part, given the positive momentum of SRT, came via the introduction of the term P2P (peer-to-peer) to its portfolio this week – a dirty term in the industry as our readers will know given the technique’s ties to piracy. Yet the pirate label is rapidly fading from P2P networking technologies so the launch of SRT P2P might well be aptly timed given how P2P insiders have hinted how 2019 or 2020 could be the year P2P is embraced by video majors – Vivendi being the most famous early adopter.

But SRT P2P could have the opposite effect for vendors in the P2P technology space, as making it open source could trigger a crash in value, suggested Schioler.

Haivision describes SRT P2P as a lightweight, plugin-free decentralized streaming technology capable of replicating low latency video streams securely between clients – ultimately broadening the scale of video delivery.

“Unlike higher-latency, segmented video delivery, SRT P2P is built on multicast concepts and real-time video streaming. Haivision is introducing the technology to enable video stream delivery for private broadcasting or within corporations, reducing egress bandwidth for scalable public internet delivery, or as an alternative to IP multicast over LAN/WAN,” states the release.

Returning to the show floor after being hidden away in meeting rooms at nearby hotels for the past five years is clearly where Haivision belongs.

As for the elephant in the room, being AWS’ apparent desertion of joining the SRT Alliance after discussions were underway last year, there is little concern from Haivision. “It doesn’t really matter about AWS, we’re using Zixi and Forward Error Correction and at the end of the day it’s a choice,” said Schioler. Co-founder Wowza echoed a similar sentiment.

“We are creating a series of ecosystem partnerships and open source collaborations to solve today’s video streaming challenges,” added Marc Cymontkowski, Haivision’s VP of engineering. “The open source community is critical to the success, adoption and continued development of the SRT protocol.”