The solution presented here is now operated by TDF following the acquisition of ItasTim in 2016.
ItasTim and the monitoring of its terrestrial TV broadcasting network
The 24/24 supervision of the functioning state of the national broadcasting infrastructure requires powerful and user-friendly management tools. The French software LoriotPro Broadcast Edition edited by LUTEUS company was chosen for this task.
We should rather say a double task. First, to supply to the ItasTim operators a tool alerting them of any problems that may arise in the broadcasting network. Secondly, to provide to the customers of ItasTim, a view on the current status of their sites and the quality of service delivered. For example, the transmitter status is indicated as well as more technical parameters such as emission levels, BER, MER, etc.
In date of this document and in few key figures, LoriotPro realized the daily network monitoring of about 400 broadcasting sites incorporating an average of 10 broadcast and network devices, more than 9,000 indicators of real-time managed states, mostly they indicate a correlated state from the treatment of a collection of several SNMP objects. The result is a collection of about 20000 SNMP objects made in a average time of 1 minute, some critical values related to the diffusion being collected every 15 seconds other less critical such as UPS statuses every 5 minutes .
To achieve this, the broadcast network monitoring software has to face many technical constraints. The first is mainly due to the geographical isolation of the sites. The data links required by the supervision tool to periodically collect equipment status, are based on low speed technologies and with slow transit time, satellite, GPRS. It is therefore important to consider these constraints and not to overload these links by aggressive and too frequent collections. Nevertheless some status indicators such as the presence of signal transmitters and the emission level is critical, frequent collection is necessary in these cases to promptly notify the operators of possible failure. To this reality, must be added the necessary time for polling such large number of equipments and for such variety of models. Indeed, the collection of operating data on equipment is provided by the standard SNMP protocol but manufacturers in the world of digital terrestrial television have not defined standards for the definition of monitoring objects. This result in many variations reported in the MIB file which imposes to have many different polling programs for each device model.
The LoriotPro Broadcast Edition has helped address these needs and technical constraints due to the features that we list below:
We will now scan these points to see how they are covered by the implemented solution. Let's start with the WEB Server and the client application. As set out above, ItasTim customers have access to a Web site that allows them to check the status and quality of the service provided. This web application was custom developed to meet the following needs:
The WEB interface is modular and allows the ItasTim operators to access dashboard with information common to all customers.
Now let us see the internal principles of operation of the solution. As we have already said LoriotPro is a multitasking SNMP polling engine able to make recurring and massively parallel queries on all broadcast sites with time constraints of the order of one second. For a better understanding, we have positioned the functional blocks in the schema below:
On the left, a broadcast site is represented with some of its broadcast equipments. In the center, the database of Global Object and their associated SNMP polling and correlation agents. Global Object are structures in memory which stores the data collected and / or correlated. Agents are LUA codes that are executed at regular intervals by the audit modules (Audit Plugin). A reserved set of threads of the Windows operating system is dedicated to running agents codes by audit modules, ensuring multitasking. On the right a dashboard of Active View type, takes in the database of Global Object those relating to update its graphical objects status.
Polling and correlation agents are coded in LUA scripting language within a single library. The embedded language LUA within LoriotPro enhanced of hundreds of functions dedicated to SNMP enabled the rapid development of the associated SNMP polling and correlation agents, it offers a unique modification flexibility and optimal execution speed, the code behind the script functions being in compiled C language.
Behind these complex operations, the issue that might arise is a heavy work of configuration management and change management. The broadcast network extends regularly and the process for adding new sites must be "taylorized". To achieve this goal, the configuration of the whole relies on descriptive files, one file per site, of the equipment settings. In these files in text format are present all the information necessary for performing the data collection and data visualization. It therefore contains information as diverse as the site name, the site GPS location, synoptic template to apply , IP addresses of devices, the names of polling agents, the emission threshold levels, etc.
When adding a new site by creating its configuration file, the operator can update the current active configuration in minutes by calling dedicated programs support to enrich the data of Global Object 'LoriotPro directory, to set up collection audits and changing visuals (ActiveView).
As you have noticed, the software provides the functionality and power needed to fulfill the implementation of an active monitroing of a terrestrial TV broadcasting network. Expansion possibilities through integrated services based on the LUA language development tools allow a limitless customization of operational GUIs to the needs of our customers. We hope that this case study will have brought you a clear view of the capabilities of the monitoring software, LoriotPro Broadcast Edition.