|HP's Success Story with NDTV
Till about four years ago, NDTV, one of India's leading news production and broadcast organizations was doing all its editing and broadcast work on an analog system. This was obviously a situation that needed to be addressed for the company to bring itself "up to speed" with the demands of the fast-evolving electronic media scenario.
The switchover to a digital platform meant that the hardware needed to be carefully chosen in order to comply with the requirements of the high-end editing software that was being deployed. A search for the best solution demonstrated that workstations were the obvious answer given the high processing capacity demanded by the editing suite that was being deployed. HP was finally selected over other workstation vendors because of the high compatibility levels that it had with Avid, the editing suite that NDTV employs.
The shift from analog to a digital platform was a massive undertaking, which required careful thought and a high level of investment. Also there was a separate, specialized IT team that needed to be put in place to handle the broadcast IT requirements, which were different from the one that was already in place to cater to the standard corporate IT requirements. The IT team realized that it needed to choose a workstation due to the heavy processing power required by the editing suite that they deployed, viz, Avid. This editing software does not qualify desktops, and in fact, qualifies only a few brands of which HP is the preferred one.
NDTV purchased 36 HP workstations for their Delhi office and eight for their Mumbai office. These workstations were exclusively deployed for editing purposes and HP has been the preferred workstation supplier to NDTV since their initial installation nearly four years ago.
"We did not require any external inputs in order to decide on the model that we wanted to purchase," said Rahul Deshpande, President and CTO, NDTV. "We had a clear mandate which was spelt out by the specs list generated by Avid. As a standard practice, we always implement the recommended specifications rather than the minimum ones in order to ensure optimum performance. Thus, the acquisition procedure was simple in that we contacted HP with our requirements and after sorting out our configuration requirements, deployed them out of the box."
According to Jay Chauhan, Senior Technological Officer (Broadcasting), NDTV, apart from their high level of compatibility with Avid, HP workstations also offer instant deployment. "We have never really needed to add anything major to what is available off the shelf from HP. However, on the occasions that we have needed to experiment with upgrades and add-ons, we have found the machines to be compatible and they have never given us trouble in this regard."
A perusal of the Avid-compatible brands that offered workstations in India revealed that HP was highest on Avid's compatibility scale with other vendors coming in at a distant second or third.
"The HP integration is the tightest. All drivers for Avid are developed on an HP machine. Even though there is a price disparity between HP and the other vendors, it is safer for us to stay with HP, because there is a higher degree of compatibility. We did consider other vendors which offer better price points but prefer to stay with HP because of the high level of compatibility with Avid," added Rahul.
All the installation was done in-house, relying on the fact that HP workstations were easily deployable straight out of the box.
Reasons for a successful deployment:
- Overall system reliability: Features such as error checking and correcting (ECC) memory, larger power supplies, and more sophisticated cooling mechanisms ensure greater expandability while ensuring high reliability. Upgrades and repairs are also highly simplified.
- Applications Tuning: Workstations are tuned and designed for the demands of specific applications like Avid). Because workstations often have features geared towards specific application requirements (e.g., graphics), and these combinations are rigorously tested, users are assured that they are using a tried-and-true combination of hardware, system software and applications.
- Enhanced performance: Workstations are engineered to provide the best 32-bit and 64-bit performance available for applications that have large resource requirements (i.e., memory, disk, I/O, and/or graphics subsystems).
- Wide range of graphics: Professional graphics cards for the largest and toughest 3D visualization, OpenGL support, and specific application support to maximize on-screen performance.
- High degree of serviceability: Availability of a workstation and its applications is critical, so the cost and speed of returning a workstation to service is paramount to an IT organization. Serviceability involves multiple facets of component access, including tool-free repair and replacement of major components.
- Greater expandability: Workstations are designed with more headroom for additional components. For example, additional (and higher-powered) PCI slots, higher RAM capacity through increased number of memory slots, higher disk capacity and higher capacity power supplies.
In the near future, NDTV is looking to install NAS, SAN and some switches by HP. In addition to this, the maintenance of all the HP workstations is handled directly by HP. Going forward; NDTV has partnered HP in a symbiotic agreement which will aid NDTV in adding on to its IT infrastructure.
"We have just purchased 18 workstations and in the future we are looking at expansion not just in terms of sheer numbers but also in terms of functions. A couple of very high-end promo machines that currently run on silicon graphics hardware are being migrated to HP workstations. These machines are running on SGI hardware for the past six years or so and this is a big step for us. We are also planning to experiment with graphics on HP workstations. What has traditionally been an only editing domain for HP will probably expand to include graphics and definitely to include high-end promo work," said Rahul.