Case Studies

Signiant Ices RÚV Iceland’s File Transfer Pain 

The Setting

RÚV is Iceland’s state-owned broadcaster. The master control room receives all incoming programs and content, converts files, archives the nation’s television history, and handles other media-related tasks. They had been using FTP and WeTransfer as primary delivery methods since adopting file-based production circa 2013. 

The Challenge

The numerous and cumbersome FTP steps were a way of life. Onboarding, training, troubleshooting, ensuring files sent/arrive and on-spec, managing storage were constant headaches and frequent nightmares. Security concerns ultimately led them to seek a better solution. 

The Solution

RÚV deployed Signiant’s Media Shuttle in August of 2022. It had an immediate impact, significantly reducing time and steps spent on file transfers, onboarding, and storage issues. CloudSpeX ensures correct formats on incoming commercials.  

The Unexpected 

Programs coming from the outside need to be subtitled in Icelandic. Media Shuttle created unexpected efficiencies and cost savings by getting files into and out of the translation department faster in a manner that surprised everyone involved.  

The Value 

Files are transferred and stored more easily, convenient notification simplifies all communications and day-to-day work. Headaches relieved and nightmares eliminated.  

The Story 

“An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure,” Ben Franklin once said. For RÚV, Iceland’s state-owned television broadcaster, an addendum to that quote reads, “Plus a ton of relief.” 

RÚV’s ounce of prevention came in the summer of 2022. Once and for all, Jóhannes Reykdal and Birkir Björnsson from RÚV’s Master Control Room Playout and Media Services Group were determined to wean themselves off of using FTP as their primary file transfer delivery system after years of use. Their motivation was simple. FTP offered zero security for their file transfers and they needed tighter security. 

Birkir Bjornsson, Broadcast Specialist
Birkir Bjornsson, Broadcast Specialist

Reykdal, Björnsson and RÚV were suffering from file transfer pain. What they didn’t realize when they switched to Signiant was the multitude of headaches and other sufferings they were accustomed to enduring would magically go away. They also didn’t foresee the time and money saving benefits the entire organization was destined to experience. They are now in the process of mandating the use of Signiant to transfer all files across all departments. 

RÚV – Iceland’s National Broadcaster 

RÚV is the Icelandic state broadcaster, an independent company owned by the government of Iceland. Since 1966 the station has provided coverage for the entire nation. The MCR Playout and Media Services Group where Reykdal and Björnsson work acts as the media center. Every incoming file and completed program comes in through this department. They also handle most media related tasks, receiving and archiving programs, converting files and more. 

FTP: File Transfer Pain 

RÚV had been using FTP as their primary file transfer solution for years. As network connections improved, sending files over the internet gradually replaced shipping hard drives. RÚV staff had to be proactive about ensuring space on the file server was available. Reykdahl and Björnsson were frequently caught in front of customers in situations where files couldn’t be uploaded.   

“Constantly, our FTP server did not have a lot of space, so it often filled up and people couldn’t upload their files. And sometimes they were just uploading so many files that we had to be constantly transferring the files off the drives.”

The Procurement Cure  

During certain times of the year, RÚV’s procurement department finalizes several deals at once, triggering many large file transfers at the same time, often on the same day and from different companies. There would be no warning.  

Recalls Reykdahl, “We had issues where people were competing with slots to upload and hogging the bandwidth from each other and the file space. We had distributors that couldn’t finish their uploads. It was very frustrating because we were not in contact with the distributors. Procurement was, and we couldn’t tell them to back down or wait until business finished. Everybody was waiting for files to come in. It was frustrating. It took three or four days to clear this up.”  

Björnsson emphasizes this point, “Three or four days. It was a lot of pressure and a lot of emails. With Signiant we can distribute a lot more easily than having a single FTP server.” 

A Healthy Dose of Notifications 

Reykdahl continued, “We usually didn’t have any indication that people were trying to send us stuff and we didn’t get any notifications. We also had to marshal storage on the FTP server to be proactive in cleaning that up and reserving space for users because we didn’t know when something was coming in.”  

Signiant has made that a lot easier. “Everybody gets notifications. It’s a lot more convenient for us and simplifies all communications. People are no longer asking us, ‘Has this file arrived?’” 

Björnsson boiled it down, “It truly simplifies a lot of our day-to-day work. It has streamlined every transfer and everything compared to FTP.” 

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Relieving Onboarding Headaches 

Another ongoing headache forever cured was onboarding new users. Reykdahl explains, “We don’t have to send FTP server information with usernames and passwords anymore. Very often people didn’t know what FTP was. I had to explain to them they had to use an FTP program to upload files to it. Now, we send them a link and everything is self-explanatory from that. That is a lot simpler.” 

Björnsson added, “People were having trouble logging onto our FTP server and using the passwords. It just got too complicated for the average user to do so. But now we get the Signiant link, the download link. It’s way more streamlined and easier. 

Security  

But it wasn’t these and other performance issues that prompted RÚV to seek a better solution. “We knew how bad FTP was in regard to security and we wanted to get away from that. That was the main driver, security,” stated Reykdal. 

While Signiant maintains one of the most vigilant and aggressive security protocols of any file transfer service, FTP literally has zero security measures built into the product.    

Putting Iceland’s Television History on Ice  

“Our archive department has copies of everything that RÚV has made since 1966. When people want to get clips, they have been using WeTransfer and FTP. WeTransfer has limitations on how much you can transfer in a day. We had the same issues as with FTP. People just didn’t know what it was. But now they’ve started to use Signiant and things are running a lot smoother.” 

Bonus: Translating Icelandic 

Perhaps the most surprising use case of Signiant at RÚV occurred in their translations department. Incoming content frequently has to be translated into Icelandic. Translators create subtitle files to play on screen. They access low-res files and upload finished files into a central repository. They had been using FTP as a share folder. They had a number of translators working from home connecting to FTP to get video files and exchange the translation subtitle files. 

“They were able to switch to the (Signiant) share portal instantly. These are not the most technically advanced people. They’re now working together, using it as a shared drive. They are using that as a workspace and it just seems to work. They’re very happy with it.” 

Björnsson agrees, “They are happier because they’re only getting one link to click compared to when they were using the FTP server. Man, that was rough.” 

CloudSpeX Remedies Chronic File Transfer Headache 

Signiant’s CloudSpex feature was an added plus solving another chronic file transfer issue. “We were having problems with local commercial producers. (They) were always sending in MP4s and we don’t like MP4 files. It was pretty easy to exclude MP4s with CloudSpeX and just accept only MXF. We have a document now that says how you must prepare the file.” 

Prescriptive Progress 

Reykdahl discussed the future of file transfer at RÚV, “Our security director wants to implement Signiant company-wide. Basically, we don’t have to use WeTransfer or anything like that. He wants to put that into policy, that people use (Signiant). We are thinking about how best to implement that. With Signiant we have logs about what is being delivered, which we don’t have if people are using other services.” 

Reflecting back on what Signiant has meant to RÚV now that they’ve been using it for more than a year, Reykdahl recollected, “Basically, we have suffered through the years with FTP. We look back with horror and see just how easy it is right now.” 

Björnsson couldn’t agree more, “Sometimes the grass is actually greener on the other side.” 

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