Where sustainability in broadcast meets KVM

“G&D’s KVM slide in – and you forget about it; no trouble, no complaints from the operators” - Peter Charles, Design Manager at BSkyB

A contribution to the future

It’s a fascinating and imposing building. The new Sky Studios of British Sky Broadcasting (BSkyB) in West London
It’s a fascinating and imposing building. The new Sky Studios of British Sky Broadcasting (BSkyB) in West London

It’s a fascinating and imposing building, the new Sky Studios of British Sky Broadcasting (BSkyB) in West London. Located at the company’s head-quarter, it is considered Europe’s most sustainable broadcast facility. The HD studio, post-production house and broadcast control centre employs more than 1,300 people. The staff’s talent, hard work and enthusiasm are the driving forces behind BSkyB’s success.

Where many people perform at their best, space is a valuable good. To move computers out of the employees’ ways in order to create space, BSkyB deploy KVM products from Guntermann & Drunck GmbH on all four floors.

In data rooms with more than 400 server racks, KVM extends and switches the signals of more than 1,000 computers to improve work conditions for both employees and hardware.

Each floor at Sky Studios is the size of a football field. They are all packed with cutting edge equipment as BSkyB’s main focus lies on efficient operation to provide their customers with the best service. But to describe the amount of KVM installations would go beyond the scope of this user report.

BSkyB’s high density of KVM and G&D’s part in the project

KVM in Recording, Post Production, Transmission and more...
KVM in Recording, Post Production, Transmission and more...

When planning the new studio, Design Manager Peter Charles and System Design Engineer Martin Richards faced the challenge of having to remove computers from studios and workplaces. In his previous job, Peter Charles has had positive experiences with extender products of German Guntermann & Drunck GmbH (G&D). His satisfaction and the equation of price, performance and quality led to the decision to apply G&D products.

Sky Studios run about 1,000 servers to perform and achieve best results. By placing servers in separate, access protected and air-conditioned server rooms, studios and workplaces remain free from computers, noise and emissions.

Easy access for maintenance

KVM keyboard drawers for local server access
KVM keyboard drawers for local server access

To access the computers, they are interconnected by several KVM systems, mainly CATCenter NEO matrix switches.

KVM systems consist of a transceiver and a receiver which run without having to install any additional software. Even the operating system in use doesn’t play a role. Transceivers and receivers are connected using either CAT cables or fibre optics.

With G&D’s RackConsole17 HD drawers, the IT team can access all computers from the server rooms. Here, over 100 RackConsoles are installed to facilitate maintaining or fixing computers without interrupting the productive staff at their desk.

For remote access, KVM even goes one step further. Computers are linked to the UCON-IP-eco system that gives access to the servers from every workplace connected to the LAN or the internet. This allows administrators to fix computer issues at any time from anywhere – as long as a web connection is available.

Challenges of moving servers during live operation

Master control room with HD screens of outsourced computers
Master control room with HD screens of outsourced computers

KVM systems always face a heterogeneous environment in which they have to fit in. But in broadcast all equipment is different and somehow “exotic”. At Sky, however, all components perfectly adapted to the system without causing issues during installation.

The biggest challenge for Peter‘s and Martin’s team was implementing the devices during operation. Broadcasting runs 24/7 – and cannot be paused because of some servers that need to be moved.

Solutions made easy

Fortunately, G&D components are plug and play devices. Among other things G&D KVM matrix systems allow:

  • Connection during operation; computers do not need to be switched off (exception SUN servers)
  • No defined switch-on sequence
  • Stay-alive function as computers remain unaffected when switching on/off or when „moving“ a switching component
  • Automatic detection as system components can be plugged in, unplugged or moved while the computers are in operation

The future is in the sky

The future is in the sky
The future is in the sky

BSkyB’s goal is to achieve long-term, sustainable success that creates value for their shareholders and has a positive impact on society. According to their policies of sustainability,

BSkyB selects its suppliers and products carefully. Guntermann & Drunck is proud to be part of BSkyB’s future-oriented vision.

Project overview

BSkyB serves more than 10.5 million homes through the most comprehensive multichannel, multi-platform television service in the UK and Ireland.

Customer

BSkyB serves more than 10.5 million homes through the most comprehensive multichannel, multi-platform television service in the UK and Ireland. They continue to break new ground with their broad range of own channels. Also they work with dozens of other broadcasters on the satellite platform, as well as online and on mobile.

BSkyB has led the UK into the age of high definition television, launched Europe‘s first 3DTV channel.

Project

Moving over 1,000 computers into remote technical equipment rooms (TER) using G&D’s KVM installations, spread across 4 floors.

Challenge

Removing computers from 5 HD studios, 45 edit suits, 14 voice-over studios and 4 audio suits while daily broadcasting needed to continue, while meeting the needs of a sustainable surrounding that cares about the well-being of the staff, but requires highly reliable KVM solutions.

Products

Result and benefits

Removing computers from offices creates workplaces with room for daylight and fresh air for happy, creative people. Also ideal working conditions for IT maintenance and computers.