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Cloud1's Infrastructure Expertise was Valuable in the Technical Implementation of the World Rally Championship

NEP Finland Oy provides technical services and solutions for productions in the television and film industry of all sizes. It is a part of the international NEP Group conglomerate, one of the largest technical operators in the television industry worldwide. In Finland, some of the most well-known productions technically executed by NEP Finland include shows like "Tanssii tähtien kanssa" (Dancing with the Stars), "Haluatko miljonääriksi" (Who Wants to Be a Millionaire), and "Vain elämää" . They are also involved in international productions such as broadcasting rallies and rallycross events in the World Rally Championship series.

Picture: Neste Rally Finland 2019, Toni Ollikainen/AKK Sports Oy

The Change in Operating Mode Required Additional Hardware in the Data Center

NEP Finland had decided to change their operating procedures for this year's WRC television coverage. Previously, the entire broadcast had always been edited on-site, but now they wanted the majority of editing to be done centrally from the company's London office. The edited rally broadcasts include preview programs, daily highlights, news feeds, and weekend summaries. The change aimed to save costs by reducing the movement of personnel and equipment from one rally to another. Centralized editing was introduced for the Portugal rally, which took place in late May and early June.

The new operating method required the installation of a new storage system in the London data center. Cloud1 assisted NEP Finland in selecting and ordering the new system. However, the system supplier encountered unexpected delivery difficulties, and it began to appear that the hardware would not arrive before the rally, jeopardizing the editing of broadcasts requiring on-location editing.

The Procurement of Backup Equipment was Completed in about a Week

NEP Finland asked for Cloud1's help in implementing a contingency plan, and Cloud1's infrastructure architects Petri Mälkki and Jan Tuomi got to work right away. They explored options for obtaining backup equipment both in Finland and the UK, but the short delivery time proved to be nearly impossible. An additional challenge was the British bank holiday, which fell on a Monday, further reducing the delivery time.

However, the Friday before the rally week, Cloud1 found a British online store that promised delivery on the following Tuesday, despite the holiday. Cloud1 initiated close communication between NEP Finland and the online store to place the order.

The order was confirmed on Friday afternoon just before the store's closing time. At this point, a small additional fee for expedited delivery didn't feel like a problem anymore. But would the delivery time be met this time?

Yes, it was. The backup equipment arrived as promised on Tuesday, and Cloud1 was in London to assist with its installation. At the end of a busy day, it was finally confirmed that the equipment was working, and the frantic effort to implement the contingency plan had paid off. Highlights of the Portugal rally could at least be produced using the backup equipment.

The originally ordered recording system also arrived on Tuesday evening. Its installation began on Wednesday morning, but things didn't go entirely according to plan even then. However, the issues discovered during the final stages of installation were resolved through collaboration between Cloud1 and the recording system manufacturer.

"Without Cloud1's help, we wouldn't have been able to put the new recording system into use for the Portugal rally," said Teemu Pietilä, Playout Manager at NEP Finland.

Broad Infrastructure Expertise and a Mindset for Success

Mälkki and Tuomi are pleased that the editing for the rally was saved despite the challenging initial situation and tight schedule.

"The order for backup equipment was placed on Friday after closing time when it was already evening in Finland. The customer received their goods on Tuesday morning at 10:30, even though there was an extra day off in between. So, there was actually only a little over two hours of working time between the order and the delivery," Tuomi summarizes.

Mälkki's presence in London made it possible to install the correct recording system on time.

"There were an unusually large number of surprises in this procurement, and many of them were even outside our comprehensive expertise. But our general experience in IT infrastructure helped us get things in order," Mälkki says.

So, Cloud1 succeeded in a task that seemed almost impossible, largely due to its broad infrastructure expertise. Cloud1's infrastructure experts Mälkki and Tuomi have worked not only with normal server infrastructure but also with data networks, allowing them to solve network problems quickly.

"In this case, we had to quickly grasp the system complexity located in London, which was unfamiliar to us, especially in terms of the network and related hardware, in order to find the right backup solution for the customer," Tuomi explains.

In addition to the right expertise, the fast schedule also required a can-do attitude. Cloud1 had not previously encountered a situation quite like this.

"With the right attitude, we get things done, even if we come across previously unknown complexities," Tuomi chuckles.

The Collaboration Continues

The new way of working requires some work even after the Portugal race because each event still requires its own technical preparations. In the future, the collaboration with NEP Finland may expand to new areas as well.

NEP Finlandin toimitusjohtaja Marko Viitanen ja Cloud1:n integraatioarkkitehdit Petri Mälkki ja Jan TuomiIn the picture, NEP Finland's CEO Marko Viitanen and Cloud1's integration architects Petri Mälkki and Jan Tuomi are at the Neste Rally in Jyväskylä. Photographer: Aaro Nygård/AKK Sports Oy.