SATV Update Part 1: Up to the Present

TRMS VOD and SX-4 servers at SATV

I haven’t posted for a long time.  During the past year at SATV, we have made a number of improvements to our IT that have given us new capabilities to serve the city of Salem and its communities.

Earlier this year, we got a new video server from Tightrope Media Systems;  We have been running their media system for years and have been running their SX-4 video server for several years.   It has two channels of encoder input and four channels of encoder output;  three of the four channels normally feed each of our three cable channels, 3 for public access, 15 for education and 16 for government.  The extra playback channel is used as a spare.  The two input encoders are used to capture analog video for playback.

Our plant was originally built to ingest (input for broadcasting) VHS, DV and DVD video content, but after several years almost all of our on-air content comes from MPEG-2 files that are served by our SX-4.  DVD’s are transcoded and demultiplexed with a utility provided by TRMS, so our DVD players have been getting less and less use.

Over the past few years, the Internet has continued to encompass more and more everyday activities as time goes on.  Many public access TV facilities have been offering their content online.  Also, the City of Salem has wanted and needed to have government meeting coverage available online and on-demand.

Last year, I worked with Sal Russo and the staff to plan the implementation of a VOD (video-on-demand) system at SATV.  The new VOD server would require a number of changes to our network configuration and an upgrade to our level of service from Comcast, from which we purchase Internet and phone service.

The first challenge I needed to confront was our firewall.  Once upon a time we had Microsoft SBS 2003 which included ISA Server.  It was an excellent firewall and I still miss it.  However, most of the SBS community didn’t share my enthusiasm for this product so Microsoft elected to remove ISA.  After we migrated to SBS 2008, we had no firewall.  We were left with the NAT features that were in our cable modem, an SMC 8014 used by Comcast.

This was barely tolerable at the time we installed it because we did not have very many incoming connections;  our schedule web page accessed our SX-4 directly and that was it, not counting the occasional VPN connection from home.  A VOD service would make us serve a lot more connections and much more traffic.  That was why we needed to move up to (and pay for) the next tier of service from Comcast.

And we needed a firewall.  I chose a Zyxel USG firewall appliance.

Zyxel USG firewall appliance

What I liked about this firewall were the seven ports that could be configured to be in multiple zones, with forwarding rules for each.  I used this to put our public WiFi access points on their own separate network, routed via a VLAN on our core managed switch.  This was a very nice side benefit that worked great.

This past February we got the VOD installed, and about six weeks later, we started playing programming on-demand over the internet.

How did it go?

That’s for my next installment.


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