What is meant by orchestration and why it matters

As the cloud enables greater virtualisation of services across industries, managing the processes held within or ‘Orchestration’ is becoming ever more important.

It’s difficult to overstate the cloud’s impact on the engineering, finance and retail sectors – all have embraced virtualisation with an enthusiasm that continues to grow. And, inspired by the results seen in these fields and others, media and broadcast businesses are getting involved too, as our recent whitepaper - Virtualisation in the broadcast industry - highlights.

Arqiva is no different. As an organisation constantly looking to enhance its service offering, we began delving deep into the world of cloud more than two years ago. Our understanding of and approach to virtualisation have given us much greater commercial flexibility, which in turn allows us to better meet our broadcast customers’ needs.

This wouldn’t have been able to happen, however, without orchestration.

Simplifying the complex cloud - What is meant by orchestration?

The cloud’s power is huge, but it’s an intricate working environment; one filled with various processes that must be managed properly if we and our customers are to reap the rewards. You have to provision compute resource; you have to provision an application and then configure it. If you have more than one application in a chain, you have to network them together. Then there are security overlays to consider – and these are just the high-level steps in the process.

There are two ways of approaching all of this. One is to have people go through each task manually, configuring on-screen and moving through the journey in order. The other, which is undoubtedly more efficient and less prone to human error, is to automate each step - or as much of it as possible, at least. That automation is known to us as orchestration.

By taking a tool and writing a script for it, so it can run through the necessary steps without human intervention, we not only save time and money, we’re able to guarantee the same process is followed exactly every time – i.e. it never deviates from the original. That leads to better results for our customers.

Orchestration in service provision

Orchestration allows us to work with greater speed and accuracy, which means we – and therefore, our customers – can be more responsive. We’re better positioned to fulfil short-term requirements, whether that be the launch of a pop-up channel or a temporary change to an existing output. As the market becomes busier, and consumer attention continues to be pulled in various directions, it’s these changes that can help a broadcaster differentiate itself – and so it’s a hugely valuable service to offer.

In the past, meeting such requests was possible but even when the infrastructure was available, purchasing it outright meant the costs were hard to justify. As a result, short-term projects were less accessible and less appealing. The price of a cloud service, however, is tied directly to the amount of time we use it – it’s completely scalable. In this new world, we can have a pop-up channel running in an hour, and at a cost that suits the customer.

There’s value far beyond the initial implementation too. We can also use orchestration to improve the way in which we monitor and manage services once they’re up and running; we get alarms and gather logs for more effective fault investigation, for example – that isn’t always true in an appliance-based system.

Maximising the potential of virtualisation

For us, the impact of virtualisation and orchestration on broadcasting is already clear, but it will become more apparent. Going forward, we expect more events-based and short-term programming, for example; and not necessarily because of a new trend – this demand has long existed, it’s just never been so simple to meet it.

The cloud’s power is undeniable, and orchestration allows us to maximise its potential for the benefit of broadcasters across the UK and beyond. As virtualisation continues to spread around the industry, orchestration gives us and our broadcast customers the flexibility to sustainably keep consumers happy and engaged; and that has always been – and always will be - the end-goal.