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With the internet increasingly becoming a way of delivering television services, Italian media company Mediaset needed to overhaul its IT network to stay ahead of the market.

Stefano Bossi New Video Management System Coordinator, Mediaset Group

Background

Founded in the 1970s by former Italian Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi, Mediaset is the main private television broadcaster in Italy. It specialises primarily in the production and distribution of Free-To-Air (FTA) television and subscription and pay-per-view TV (pay TV) across multiple platforms. It’s also involved with film production and distribution.

Much like other traditional broadcasters, it has, over the past few years, had to rethink the way it delivers content to its audience. The advent of internet-only providers such as Netflix and Amazon Prime has shaken up the industry and has created a growing demand to watch broadcast television online.

Challenges

Mediaset’s current IT infrastructures were unable to support Internet TV services

This changing market presented Mediaset with a major technical challenge. Stefano Bossi, the man responsible for the new Video Content Management Systems at Mediaset, explained: “Although we continue to transmit television over the air, there’s no doubt that delivery through the internet is going to be an increasing part of our business in the future. We are determined to lead the Italian market in this, but we realised a couple of years ago that our existing IT infrastructure was not up to the job.”

The main challenge facing the company was that its network had developed in an unstructured way. Much of it was outsourced and expensive to run and it lacked the flexibility and capacity to support the new transmission strategy. The only way forward was to bring everything back ‘in-house’ and build a new replacement network from scratch. With this in mind, Mediaset issued an RFI to find the solution it needed.

Stefano Bossi continued: “Our requirement was for a comprehensive solution that would provide the server infrastructure, internet connectivity, and storage for video content. We invited a number of vendors to make proposals and following an initial commercial review of each of them, we selected three to take to a more in-depth, proof-of-concept technical evaluation.”

Solution

Huawei’s IP vertical solution constructs an all-new network infrastructure

After a period of exhaustive testing it was clear that the Huawei solution, proposed by Mediapower for IT components and BT for IP components and network management, offered the best mix in terms of performance, scalability and reliability.

“We received a great deal of support from Huawei during the evaluation phase. It even built a mock installation in China which we were able to use for a week to carry out all of our testing. Although there was little from a cost perspective to separate the contenders, the future-proofing offered by the Huawei solution couldn’t be matched by the others,” said Stefano Bossi.

Huawei’s IP vertical solution is based on its CloudEngine 6800 series datacenter switches, which offer high speed performance over 10 Gbit/s and 40 Gbit/s ports, while internet routing is provided by its NetEngine 40E Series Universal Service Router, a high-end backbone router that offers full redundancy across all of its components.

On the IT side, the video delivery infrastructure is made up of a farm of 14 RH2288 servers and two OceanStor 9000 scale-out NAS systems split across two sites. These provide a high performance, advanced NAS platform, built on a highly available scale-out system, employing general-purpose hardware architecture.

Although this was the first time that Mediaset had worked with Huawei, the installation of this relatively complex solution was basically trouble free.

“We only experienced one performance problem that we had not come across in the proof-of-concept testing and I was really impressed with the way Huawei reacted. They immediately assigned an engineer and managed to solve a complicated problem with our existing network within a couple of days,” commented Stefano Bossi.

Benefits

Excellent performance management, the best choice for pursuing the Internet service dream

There’s no doubt that Mediaset’s new network infrastructure is already delivering the improvement in performance and reliability it needs to support its future IPTV strategy. Its last financial year showed significant savings in terms of management and running costs and, from a technical perspective, everything has continued to function without any problems.

For the marketing team, the capabilities that it offers have already got them thinking about a host of additional business opportunities.

“As an engineer, what’s really impressed me about Huawei’s products is how simple they are to use. They are easy to control and quick to fix if they go wrong, which is something that is obviously crucially important in our business. They’re also not overloaded with features that we don’t need — something that can’t be said about some of the other systems we looked at. I would be happy to recommend them to anyone who asks,” concluded Stefano Bossi.

About Mediaset

Mediaset S.p.A., also known as Mediaset Group, is the largest commercial broadcaster in Italy. Founded in the 1970s by former Italian Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi and still controlled today by his family’s holding company, Fininvest, the group competes primarily against the public broadcaster RAI, the privately owned La7 and Sky plc’s Sky Italia. Based in Milan, Lombardy the company currently has three main television production centres, in Milan (Segrate), Cologno Monzese, and Rome.

For more information, please visit:http://www.mediaset.it/

About MediaPower

MediaPower enables media workflows by providing products and solutions for media content production and delivery across multiple platforms. Founded in 1993, MediaPower started as an integrator of certified networking and storage solutions for media industry enterprises such as SeaChange, DDN, NetApp, Huawei, and Dalet. It has established a long-standing expertise in designing and implementing turnkey solutions and IT-based workflows in the broadcast and media industry.

For more information, please visit:http://www.media-power.it/site/en/

About BT

BT’s purpose is to use the power of communications to make a better world. It is one of the world’s leading providers of communications services and solutions, serving customers in 180 countries. Its principal activities include the provision of networked IT services globally; local, national, and international telecommunications services to its customers for use at home, at work, and on the move; broadband, TV, and internet products and services; and converged fixed-mobile products and services. BT consists of six customer-facing lines of business: Global Services, Business and Public Sector, Consumer, EE, Wholesale and Ventures, and Openreach.

For the year that ended on 31 March 2016, BT Group’s reported revenue was £19,012m with reported profit before taxation of £2,907m. British Telecommunications plc (BT) is a wholly-owned subsidiary of BT Group plc and encompasses virtually all businesses and assets of the BT Group. BT Group plc is listed on stock exchanges in London and New York.

For more information, please visit:http://www.btplc.com/