Michael “Catfish” Dosch is director, Virtual Radio Products, for Lawo. This is one in a series of Q&As with industry professionals about their presentations at the upcoming NAB Show in Las Vegas.
Radio World: You’re helming a session entitled “The Coming Virtualization of Radio Studios: Broadcasting + IT = AoIP 2.0,” April 23, 10–10:30 a.m. What is it about?
Michael Dosch: Virtualization is the dematerialization of hardware or embedded products. Your smartphone’s clock app replaces your wristwatch. Scaled up, this idea can include apps running on virtual computers on generic hardware. What makes this possible is the staggering power of the modern CPU.
A small data center may consist of hundreds of generic server devices running thousands of virtual machines. A management layer called a hypervisor hosts and supervises the virtual machines. If a problem occurs in hardware or software, the hypervisor takes action. This is how data centers provide such a high level of service availability.
Radio broadcasters are beginning to explore this technology. The PC is already the center of the radio studio, serving as the source for all of our recorded content. We are already using IP to move audio around the plant. The next step is to virtualize some of the other devices used around the studio and have them running on powerful generic hardware.
The market for radio equipment is limited, and so too is the R&D investment. However, if we adapt the technology from IT for our unique needs in radio, we gain access to billions of dollars of R&D and cutting edge innovation. This is a much more pragmatic approach to radio tech than trying to build everything from scratch. This was the idea behind AoIP and we believe virtualization is the next big thing.