Stories How Sofia Digital modernised broadcasting by moving to the cloud

How Sofia Digital modernised broadcasting by moving to the cloud

Sofia Digital is an international high-tech company based in Finland, Tampere. They have over 20 years of history delivering services for TV screens and interactive smart devices. The company specializes in media technologies, broadcasting and streaming services using TV standards and Internet technologies.

Sofia Backstage Platform is their software-based product family available for powering smart TV and linear TV services in TV-network operator’s head-end and online environments. Sofia Backstage helps customers manage and aggregate any electronic formats of Television and TV-programming metadata. It includes support for the latest interactive TV standard called Hybrid Broadcast Broadband TV or HbbTV for short.

Sofia Digital work in co-operation with the TV and media industry, online technology companies and CE manufacturers. Additionally, as an active member of the HbbTV Association Sofia Digital is able to provide the best possible level of interoperability for HbbTV and MPEG-DASH deployments in global TV markets.

Previous challenges

Sofia Digital’s typical projects consist of the development and hosting of new TV and video services. These are made available both in broadcast and over the broadband and can support hosted and on-premises service models. Since the company’s founding in 2000, they have successfully delivered various deployments and projects across Europe, Africa, North and South America, the Middle East and South-East Asia. Especially Asia and Europe have been fast-growing regions during the year 2020.

Sofia Digital has been witnessing the emergence of streaming video services, smart TV, mobile devices and online technologies. In their experience, the new technologies have challenged the traditional broadcasted TV business models and TV technology. However, instead of replacing the television, these have created a new, better, more available and more personal enriched TV experience. The best of TV, linear content and Internet together.

According to Sofia Digital, online TV services are commonly brought to viewers by hosting services in a modern internet cloud-based environment. Due to the popularity of TV as a mass media and expectation of high-quality uninterrupted critical service operations sets very unique and demanding requirements for the reliability and availability of the services. The need for processing capacity and high-bandwidth requirements make on-premises installations prohibitively expensive to maintain.

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Hosting on UpCloud

Sofia Digital mainly utilises UpCloud’s data centres in Singapore and Finland. They use SUSE Linux based scalable virtual machines to operate online media services powered with Sofia Backstage server software. Their typical installations include HTTP origin and portal servers for hosting the TV applications and the necessary back-office software suite.

Consequently, Sofia Digital deploys clustered databases and high-availability services by also utilising well-known open-source software modules. Their software stack includes SUSE, NGINX, MariaDB, Galera Cluster, Apache Tomcat, Node.js, Docker and recently also Kubernetes. Lastly, automation for the nodes is handled using SaltStack.

Monitoring is an important part of their service operations where availability target is >99.99%. Sofia Digital has implemented monitoring using fully open-source tools such as Zabbix and Grafana. These help their system administrators to track the cloud servers’ health, availability, status and to get real-time data on the running services. Additionally, all of their cloud servers running in UpCloud data centres are connected to the Sofia Digital centralized system monitoring.

Improvements

UpCloud’s specialised cloud infrastructure has enabled Sofia Digital to move their servers and services from on-premises into the cloud. For Sofia Digital, UpCloud is the perfect partner to offer services operating in multiple important locations including Finland, South-East Asia and Europe. Additionally, both companies’ businesses are growing in these regions.

Thanks to UpCloud’s Control Panel, Sofia Digital is able to set up new cloud servers is fast and easy. In their experience, the controls for monitoring and editing system settings are simple and quick to operate saving them time and money.

Cloud servers on UpCloud work perfectly as a traditional stand-alone web server for smaller-scale usage and trials for Sofia Digital. On the other hand, the servers are also well suited to act as the origin server of Sofia Digital’s CDN for heavy-usage sites. For example, they used the Conversant SwiftServe CDN network to serve Malaysian National TV and Radio (RTM) the online video services MyKlik.

In Sofia Digital’s opinion, there are also advantages when both companies are hailing from the same country. For a small country, Finland has been the home of many groundbreaking companies and technical innovations. Finland was also one of the first countries to adopt digital TV technology, which provided us with the opportunity for pioneering work in digital TV standards and technologies.

Future plans

Sofia Digital is continuously looking for new possibilities to make their services better. This includes the ways they utilise their cloud hosting environments on UpCloud. One of their recent developments is to utilise Kubernetes and Docker. They look forward to making their solutions more flexible when it comes to scalability and availability.

Sofia Digital welcomes UpCloud to deliver the latest cloud computing environment with reliable and secure operations model.

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Locations

Helsinki (HQ)

In the capital city of Finland, you will find our headquarters, and our first data centre. This is where we handle most of our development and innovation.

London

London was our second office to open, and a important step in introducing UpCloud to the world. Here our amazing staff can help you with both sales and support, in addition to host tons of interesting meetups.

Singapore

Singapore was our 3rd office to be opened, and enjoys one of most engaged and fastest growing user bases we have ever seen.

Seattle

Seattle is our 4th and latest office to be opened, and our way to reach out across the pond to our many users in the Americas.