Joe McNamara of the 9Network leverages Cisco Services to transform the network to IP transport, delivering 100% availability and zero risk.
Industry: Media and communications
Company size: $2.3 billion revenue, 3500 employees
Location: Stations across Australia
Cisco helped transform television production at Australia's top network.
Joe McNamara is Group Director for Network and Communications at Nine, which owns the highest-rating television network in Australia, the 9Network. His team is responsible for the network and device functionality at all of Nine’s sites. Joe shares his experience with Cisco CX and its support for a transformative migration to IP transport.
Broadcasting is a competitive industry, and we understand that our viewers have more choices than ever in how, when, and where they consume programming. To remain one of the top networks in Australia, we need to deliver great content and engage audiences and advertisers.
Our technology infrastructure is the foundation for our programming, and we recognize that we need the ability to innovate and scale our business to be competitive now and in the future. It’s up to my team to ensure our infrastructure delivers 100% availability and zero risk, so that our TV audiences don’t change channels–or switch to an on-demand service.
For years, the 9Network depended on a vast network of expensive production facilities around Australia, each functioning like a standalone television station. But our audience’s expectations are changing, and we understood that we needed to evolve as well by delivering better programming, faster.
To gain the agility and flexibility to evolve to suit their needs, we needed a unified, flexible infrastructure solution. We were looking for technology that could be turned on and turned down quickly and could give a lot of creatives within the company the ability to produce content cheaply, in a scalable fashion.
“The Cisco CX team have totally met our business needs, providing a positive network transformation experience backed by deep knowledge and expertise available around the clock.”Joe McNamara, Group Director for Network and Communications, Nine
After exploring our options, we chose an IP-based solution based on Cisco IP Fabric for Media. With Cisco IP Fabric for Media, all we need is a camera connected to our own private network IP. To broadcast live sporting events or news reports, we no longer need a satellite—just a network connection.
The Cisco IP network makes all content immediately available in the broadcasting center, where our producers can edit, add graphics, and prepare the program for broadcast. We can get programming on the air faster, and free up IT to focus on innovating to provide a better experience for our viewers.
For example, when we decided to utilize our Stan streaming service for National Rugby League (NRL) matches, we chose to broadcast them in 4K. In the past, this would have required major infrastructure changes. Our Cisco solution made it much easier to roll out the new programming, with minimal additional effort for the transition.
We’re proud that the 9Network is the first free-to-air TV company in Australia with a full IP fabric transport for pre- and post-production. The move was challenging because television networks don’t have the luxury of downtime. Our migration to the new solution had to happen fast and flawlessly.
We needed a strategic partner that could offer not only great technology but a strong support structure so that we could move forward with confidence in our transition.
The Cisco CX team was there for us from the beginning, working closely with the sales team as we defined the project across the wide area network (WAN), wireless, campus, and professional media network.
Cisco worked closely with us to clarify the scope of the project, set expectations, and plan out timelines and priorities in advance, so there would be no surprises. Out of this discovery and alignment process, Cisco CX delivered a service delivery model that was totally tailored to our needs.
We engaged Cisco Advanced Services first. They took the lead on providing local and remote advisory services, and planning and designing our most critical architectures, including enterprise, security, and data center. They also spearheaded deployment of the most complex technologies for Cisco IP Fabric for Media, and our core and data center networks.
The Cisco Services team was key to helping us align our solution with our business requirements, providing expertise, analytics, and insights. They worked with us to be sure our site design focused on the end user experience, making our infrastructure simple to use.
The team suggested a modular design to make the solution as flexible and scalable as possible. They followed a “security everywhere” approach to help protect us against denial-of-service attacks and unauthenticated users. They also helped ensure that the new IP network provided all the visibility our team needed for management.
When it came time switch over to the new network, the Cisco Services team helped us make the process fast and easy. We started migration on a Friday and Cisco Services professionals worked over the weekend to execute the switchover.
Our transformation to IP happened fast with no disruption of services during the cutover, which was challenging because of limited supply and support availability during the initial Covid-19 lockdown—and also because we had to vacate our old building as we migrated our network.
With our foundation in place, we are confident that Cisco will continue to stand by us to help us make the most of our investment. Cisco and Nine have partnered on our journey for a five-year period, and Cisco CX will work closely with our team to keep it fully up to date and optimized—while stopping any issues that could impact its superb performance.