Industry: Media & Entertainment
Solution: Services
Geography: Americas

Corus prepares for the future of entertainment

Software-defined networking from IBM and Cisco enables service innovation

Laying firm foundations

Corus Entertainment, one of Canada’s leading media and content companies, delivers content to millions worldwide every day. The company relies on digital tools to support its core processes, from scheduling broadcasts to managing HR and financial accounting. With demand for data-driven services projected to increase sharply in the next decade, Corus partnered with IBM and Cisco® to deploy cutting-edge networking infrastructure—empowering it to serve the business effectively for years to come.

Strong partnership

Building on its strategic alliance with Cisco, IBM® Global Technology Services® helped Corus Entertainment move to a performant, scalable and highly available network architecture that will support the ongoing evolution of its digital services for the next decade.

Switching on new services

By replacing its legacy networking environment with next-generation Cisco Catalyst 9300 and Cisco Nexus® 9300-EX Series Switches (external links), Corus Entertainment has created a future-ready platform for service innovation in the years ahead.

Shweta Bajaj, Manager, Network Operations at Corus Entertainment, explains, “Our corporate network supports many mission-critical services, so maintaining high levels of availability is a top priority. At the same time, we see that digital tools will play a crucial role in the development of new products and services for customers, and we aim to ensure that the corporate network is never a roadblock to innovation.”

She continues, “By working with IBM and Cisco to move to a brand-new network—powered by the open, extensible, and software-driven Cisco Application Centric Infrastructure [ACI, external link]—we’ve already more than doubled our bandwidth, slashed latency by 40 percent and lifted availability by 32 percent. These capabilities give us the confidence that we can be a more effective partner to the business, and spin up new infrastructure rapidly to enable future service innovation.”
 

Business Impact

  • Boosts network backbone bandwidth from 40 Gbit to 100 Gbit, creating headroom for future data growth. 
  • Cuts network latency from 15 ms to 9 ms, a reduction of 40 percent that facilitates the deployment of real-time digital services.
  • Enhances network availability by 32 percent, helping to ensure 24/7 uptime for mission-critical services.
  • Achieved a zero-disruption migration to the new network infrastructure, minimizing impact on business users.
  • Enables automated provisioning and monitoring services, predicted to help boost operational efficiency and cut time-to-market for new services.
     

Business Impact

  • Boosts network backbone bandwidth from 40 Gbit to 100 Gbit, creating headroom for future data growth. 
  • Cuts network latency from 15 ms to 9 ms, a reduction of 40 percent that facilitates the deployment of real-time digital services.
  • Enhances network availability by 32 percent, helping to ensure 24/7 uptime for mission-critical services.
  • Achieved a zero-disruption migration to the new network infrastructure, minimizing impact on business users.
  • Enables automated provisioning and monitoring services, predicted to help boost operational efficiency and cut time-to-market for new services.
     

Changing the channel

Corus Entertainment has relied on Cisco solutions to support its networking requirements for many years. With the company’s existing Cisco switches approaching end-of-life, Corus saw an opportunity to enhance its services at the corporate data center. The aim was to ensure that the new network could accommodate anticipated growth in the volume and velocity of data, and scale rapidly in line with emerging business requirements.

“Two key networking capabilities we targeted were ease of deployment and scalability,” confirms Shweta Bajaj. “Although we don’t know exactly what the future requirements for digital services will be, the disruptive impact of digital media in the last decade shows us that change is almost inevitable. Whatever the future holds, our objective is to ensure we can respond with agility to the needs of the business—without compromising on the availability of existing services, or sending operational costs soaring.”

In its compute environment, Corus harnesses virtual servers powered by VMware vSphere. Corus saw that extending the efficiencies of virtualization to the network environment would help it to achieve its goals, and looked for a solution that offered the latest advances in software-defined networking (SDN).

Selecting the right partners

To help reduce the business risk on its journey to the new networking infrastructure, Corus Entertainment engaged IBM and Cisco to provide expert consulting, integration, and support services. The company engaged IBM Global Technology Services to assist with the consulting, design and implementation of the data center migration project, and IBM Technology Support Services to deliver ongoing support and maintenance.

“Before we embarked on this project, we scored a number of leading IT vendors across several delivery areas,” comments Shweta Bajaj. “The offering from IBM Global Technology Services really stood out. Not only did IBM bring a clear vision for the new networking architecture, they also presented a compelling roadmap for the implementation and beyond. IBM is truly a one-stop shop to serve our needs, and their consultants gave us great confidence that IBM had the skills and experience to make our project a success.”

She adds, “Another important factor in selecting IBM was their strategic alliance with Cisco. As well as having deep expertise in Cisco networking solutions, the IBM team presented side-by-side with their counterparts from Cisco during the selection process, which went a long way to demonstrating the close contacts between the two organizations.”
 

Unlocking the benefits of automation

By moving to Cisco switches with native support for Cisco Digital Network Architecture (DNA, external link) and Cisco ACI, Corus Entertainment aims to harness machine-learning-driven automation to reduce the time and manual effort required to manage, monitor, and scale its network.

“Although we’ve not yet had an opportunity to put the automated provisioning capabilities of Cisco ACI to the test, we’ve already been impressed by how much easier the solution makes it to understand the status and overall health of our network,” says Shweta Bajaj. 

“To date, we’ve only used Cisco DNA on a small scale, by pushing out Cisco IOS® upgrades to our switches from a single point of control. Looking to the future, we believe that Cisco DNA will make a big difference to the way we provision new infrastructure. For example, if a new use case from the business requires us to stand up a significant amount of networking equipment, Cisco DNA will help us avoid time-consuming manual configuration processes—saving time, and helping our networking team stay lean and agile.”

Customer Quote

Because of the close strategic alliance between IBM and Cisco, there was never a need for us to go back and forth between them to validate our high-level architecture designs or hardware configurations. We’ve been delighted with the help we received from IBM Global Technology Services during the migration, as well as the ongoing assistance we now enjoy from IBM Technology Support Services. IBM will certainly be a preferred partner for future networking engagements.

-Shweta Bajaj, Manager, Network Operations at Corus Entertainment

Customer Quote

Because of the close strategic alliance between IBM and Cisco, there was never a need for us to go back and forth between them to validate our high-level architecture designs or hardware configurations. We’ve been delighted with the help we received from IBM Global Technology Services during the migration, as well as the ongoing assistance we now enjoy from IBM Technology Support Services. IBM will certainly be a preferred partner for future networking engagements.

-Shweta Bajaj, Manager, Network Operations at Corus Entertainment

First, Corus Entertainment worked with Cisco to assess its existing networking infrastructure and map out the optimal upgrade path. Following this engagement, Corus decided to deploy Cisco Catalyst 9300 and Cisco Nexus 9300-EX Series Switches, with Cisco DNA to accelerate and simplify management, and Cisco ACI to facilitate network automation.

“Because our switches were approaching end-of-support, we set aggressive deadlines for the project,” explains Shweta Bajaj. “A zero-disruption switchover to the new network was absolutely vital. As well as essential communications technologies such as telephony, voice-over-IP, and Microsoft Exchange email servers, our corporate network also delivers services for our broadcast teams, such as our broadcast scheduling and archiving systems. If any of these systems went offline unexpectedly, the business impact would be enormous—and we simply couldn’t afford unplanned downtime.”

She continues, “Working together with IBM and Cisco, we painstakingly tested the new network infrastructure and performed a gradual, phased deployment. Thanks to our diligent approach to testing and timely support and guidance from the IBM and Cisco teams, we successfully made the transition to our next-generation network infrastructure with zero impact on business operations.”

First, Corus Entertainment worked with Cisco to assess its existing networking infrastructure and map out the optimal upgrade path. Following this engagement, Corus decided to deploy Cisco Catalyst 9300 and Cisco Nexus 9300-EX Series Switches, with Cisco DNA to accelerate and simplify management, and Cisco ACI to facilitate network automation.

“Because our switches were approaching end-of-support, we set aggressive deadlines for the project,” explains Shweta Bajaj. “A zero-disruption switchover to the new network was absolutely vital. As well as essential communications technologies such as telephony, voice-over-IP, and Microsoft Exchange email servers, our corporate network also delivers services for our broadcast teams, such as our broadcast scheduling and archiving systems. If any of these systems went offline unexpectedly, the business impact would be enormous—and we simply couldn’t afford unplanned downtime.”

She continues, “Working together with IBM and Cisco, we painstakingly tested the new network infrastructure and performed a gradual, phased deployment. Thanks to our diligent approach to testing and timely support and guidance from the IBM and Cisco teams, we successfully made the transition to our next-generation network infrastructure with zero impact on business operations.”

About Corus Entertainment

Corus Entertainment Inc. (TSX: CJR.B, external link) is a leading media and content company that develops and delivers high quality brands and content across platforms for audiences around the world. Engaging audiences since 1999, the company’s portfolio of multimedia offerings encompass 33 specialty television services, 39 radio stations, 15 conventional television stations, a suite of digital and streaming assets, animation software, technology and media services.

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