Sky Italia: Optimised HD transcoding with preemptible VMs

About Sky Italia

Sky Italia is one of the biggest media companies in Italy. It is part of Sky plc, Europe’s leading entertainment company, serving 22 million customers across five countries.

Industries: Media & Entertainment
Location: Italy

About Go Reply

Winner of the Google Cloud 2016 EMEA Partner Award for excellence, Go Reply helps customers of all sizes solve challenges by using Google Cloud products.

Sky Italia teamed up with cloud partner Go Reply to integrate its hybrid transcoder into Google Cloud Platform, transcoding old video with preemptible VMs and direct peering.

Google Cloud Platforms Results

  • Improves security through micro-segmentation, thanks to direct peering
  • Creates major savings with preemptible VMs
  • Integrates with on-premises hardware for an optimal solution

Transcoded 5K+ videos to HD within tight deadlines

With 4.8 million subscribers, Italian television platform Sky Italia is one of the country’s biggest media companies. So when the company chose to transcode its entire back catalogue into high definition in only a few weeks, it faced a major technical challenge. Processing high-definition content takes longer and demands four times more CPU than standard-definition video, so Sky Italia needed to add resources to its on-premises infrastructure to meet its deadlines. To do that, Sky Italia teamed up with cloud partner Go Reply to develop a solution to integrate its hybrid transcoder into Google Cloud Platform.

“With Google Compute Engine, we could spin up new instances so quickly that managing our peak transcoding workload became a no-brainer: no extra capex, no time wasted. And, using Google Custom Machine Types, we could optimise the configurations of VMs to our real needs.”

Gabriele Ubertini, Head of Research and Engineering, Sky Italia

“We had to transcode all our assets to the new bitrate set optimising costs and time; this was not possible using only our existing on-premises infrastructure,” says Gabriele Ubertini, Head of Research and Engineering at Sky Italia. “With Google Compute Engine, we could spin up new instances so quickly that managing our peak transcoding workload became a no-brainer: no extra capex, no time wasted. And, using Google Custom Machine Types, we could optimise the configurations of VMs to our real needs.”

Transcoding with preemptible VMs

Transcoding old video content on top of new content produced every day, can put strain on a broadcasters’ infrastructure. That’s why when Sky Italia aimed to transcode more than 5,000 video assets to HD within tight deadlines, it had to source new transcoding capacity on top of its existing on-premises servers. Rather than purchase and install extra hardware, the team looked for a cost-effective solution that met stringent security requirements. Together with Go Reply, Sky Italia conceived a public cloud and on-premises hybrid HD transcoder, and benchmarked a range of potential cloud providers.

That’s how Sky Italia chose Google Cloud Platform. Google was the only cloud provider benchmarked to provide direct peering, which supplies additional quality bandwidth, enabling secure micro-segmentation of video as it passes to the cloud. Cost efficiency is further optimised with Google Custom Machine Types, which respond rapidly to peaks in demand without the need for overprovisioning. Yet, the most significant savings came from using cheaper preemptible VMs, guided by a Go Reply API which manages the whole process, calculating availability and balancing preemptible VMs with standard instances.

“Google Preemptible Virtual Machines reduced our VM spending, but we needed a way to manage the moments when they might be unavailable. With Go Reply, we created an orchestration layer that let us use preemptible VMs and normal machines together, easily recovering from shutdowns of preemptible VMs.”

Gabriele Ubertini, Head of Research and Engineering, Sky Italia

“Google offered us direct peering services between its infrastructure and the Sky data centre,” says Ubertini. “Google Preemptible Virtual Machines reduced our VM spending, but we needed a way to manage the moments when they might be unavailable. With Go Reply, we created an orchestration layer that let us use preemptible VMs and normal machines together, easily recovering from shutdowns of preemptible VMs.”

Taking everything HD

Instead of months, the hybrid transcoder processed the entire archive in one week. On a day-by-day basis, the time taken to catalogue new video assets has also been significantly reduced.

Now, the team is planning a second phase using Google Kubernetes Engine to create further efficiencies, so that its entire transcoding infrastructure will share one single code base.

“Sky Italia has been very reassured by the Google roadmap on cloud infrastructure, such that we now plan to move our public cloud hybrid transcoder to share the same code base of on-premises operating infrastructure on Google Kubernetes Engine.”

Angelo Scano, Senior Research Engineer, Sky Italia

“Phase two is based on containerisation and Kubernetes,” says Angelo Scano, Senior Research Engineer at Sky Italia. “Sky Italia has been very reassured by the Google roadmap on cloud infrastructure, such that we now plan to move our public cloud hybrid transcoder to share the same code base of on-premises operating infrastructure on Google Kubernetes Engine. That will help us be more efficient, spend less for the same performance, and scale even more effectively than we do with VMs.”

About Sky Italia

Sky Italia is one of the biggest media companies in Italy. It is part of Sky plc, Europe’s leading entertainment company, serving 22 million customers across five countries.

Industries: Media & Entertainment
Location: Italy

About Go Reply

Winner of the Google Cloud 2016 EMEA Partner Award for excellence, Go Reply helps customers of all sizes solve challenges by using Google Cloud products.

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