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Renewal of a radio system product

Agile renewal of a radio broadcasting system

Jutel is one of the world’s most experienced media and radio automation solution providers. Specialised in radio digitalisation, it offers innovative solutions for radio workflow, media content management and publication in different distribution channels. Jutel serves the world’s leading media operators in Europe, North America, the Middle East and Africa.

Giant leap for RadioMan.

Similarly to other technologies, media and radio automation solutions have taken giant development leaps in recent years. For example, cloud-based audio processing in real time was a utopian idea just six years ago.

Jutel has always been a pioneer in the radio systems field. Its flagship product, RadioMan, was first released in 1992. Five years ago, Jutel started the complete renewal of its popular radio system.  The system user interface felt too complex for the end users. Furthermore, the Client Server architecture was cumbersome: updating new features or settings in the client environment was time-consuming and laborious.

“The renewal was all about understanding the client. Our biggest client organisations can have dozens of different systems on their workstations, and up to thousands of workstations. The higher the number of workstation-specific installations, the more difficult it is to maintain them.”

Jorma Kivelä, CTO

Story in a nutshell:

  • Jutel’s popular radio system was based on three-tier Client Server architecture. The distribution versions of workstation updates were difficult to manage, both for the end clients’ IT administrators and Jutel’s development and maintenance team.
  • Jutel decided to renew the entire radio system and make it browser-based. The new system would have REST interfaces. They wanted to renew the UI and the logic but keep the existing data and data models.
  • Jutel selected Codemate as its partner for paving the way towards next-generation technologies.
  • Codemate analysed Jutel’s system and made a roadmap for transferring the overall architecture to the cloud.
  • Thanks to the agile development model, the renewal proceeded swiftly. Codemate brought the best practices of agile development to the Jutel development team.

Controlled renewal of Jutel’s systems.

Workstation-specific installations made version management difficult in the old broadcasting system. Multiple interconnected systems operated in the same environment, and synchronising their updates took up a lot of time and effort, both from the end users and from Jutel’s support and maintenance.

The designers started sketching a comprehensive renewal:

  • A new browser-based radio system with REST interfaces. It would make work easier for the end users, the clients’ IT administration, and Jutel’s maintenance team.
  • A system that works both as in-house and cloud-based installations – the client would set the pace of the transition.
  • The aim was to take sound processing to the next level and free workstations of audio cables and sound cards.
  • The clear, improved UI is based on end client feedback.

Jorma Kivelä, Jutel CTO and Chairman of the Board, says that the design of the new radio system also took into account the existing systems. “We decided early on that the data model behind our system was functional. We wanted to use it as the starting point for the development.”

Renewing the radio system UI and logic without changing the data or the data model enabled client-focused development. As a result:

  • the same database and data can be used simultaneously with the old and the new systems.
  • the clients get access to new features and solutions without having to deploy the full system first.
  • the transition was smooth, thanks to the ability to use the old and new systems in parallel.
  • the clients were able to run broadcasts planned with the legacy system with the new system, which minimised redundant work.

Jutel turned to Codemate and consulted its experts regarding the different tool options. Later, Jutel also relied on Codemate’s expertise in UI design, software architecture and practical implementation.

At first, the system could not be transferred to the cloud due to client expectations and sound processing demands.

When the first next-generation implementations were ready, Jutel installed the first versions in client environments. In the meantime, the technology had developed.

“We wanted to find out whether our new system could be integrated into the cloud environment as a whole,” Olli-Pekka Lukkarinen, COO for Jutel explains.

Codemate’s experts set out to analyse

  • how Jutel’s new system could be established in the cloud, 
  • what the full migration to the cloud would mean in practice, and
  • whether it would bring the desired benefits for Jutel.

Meanwhile, Jutel developed its IP-based digital audio processing and transferring in-house, making it cloud-proof.

Lukkarinen found the analysis highly valuable. The Codemate experts made a roadmap for further system development based on the analysis results. Jutel has implemented some of the proposed solutions.

However, Jutel has not forced its clients to migrate fully to the cloud for the time being. This decision was based on the clients’ wishes. Kivelä points out that the clients did not even want to hear about the cloud a few years ago when the analysis was made.

However, the trends have changed over the last couple of years. Thanks to the improved availability of various dedicated cloud platforms and hybrid solutions, organisations have fewer reasons to shun cloud-based systems. Codemate’s roadmap became more relevant than ever.

In addition to its expertise, Codemate brought agility to the development phase.

“We did not have all the technology expertise we needed in-house, and we did not want to start by making a bunch of mistakes ourselves”, Kivelä says, pointing out that backing up Jutel’s own development team with Codemate’s experts was an easy decision to make.

In addition to their skills, the experts brought with them the best practices and frameworks of agile development. These benefitted the management and daily work of the Jutel development team greatly. Previously, the Jutel’s R&D projects were overwhelmingly complex, characterised by scope creep and an immense backlog, which forced the product development team to prioritise tasks and client needs. The myriad tasks of the release phase were not taken into account in the workload estimates.

All of the above are typical day-to-day challenges in product development. Codemate’s experts helped Jutel to implement the best practices in the daily work of the development team:

  • Product development no longer prioritises client needs. Instead, product management is responsible for designing the features and prioritising tasks together with the priority work group.
  • The roadmap serves as the big picture for design and management, making it easier to monitor business needs and the progress.
  • The product management carefully designs the desired features for the product development team.
  • At first, the process was monitored more closely, but nowadays, as the best practices have become established, the sprint duration is approximately two weeks.
  • No changes are made to current sprints (no scope creep), and the workload estimates are realistic.
  • More emphasis is placed on the user experience, and enough time is reserved for design before the implementation phase.

The comprehensive renewal took place in parallel with the maintenance and further development of the existing product. Without effective prioritisation, the schedule might have been delayed unreasonably or some important client tasks might have been ignored.

Naturally, the project included some difficult prioritising decisions, but the clear framework and plan made things easier for the product management.

Olli-Pekka Lukkarinen dash icon white dash icon white dash icon white
“I have only good things to say about Codemate. Their experts took things calmly, one step at a time. They solved our challenges and formalised our process. Moreover, they kept us fully informed at all times. Everyone at Jutel understood why we are doing these things.”

Olli-Pekka Lukkarinen

COO, Jutel

Jorma Kivelä dash icon white dash icon white dash icon white
“Our cooperation with Codemate has been exemplary. Their extensive experience shines through their way of working – from setting an example to fine tuning and hands-on guidance. We did not need help for putting out a temporary fire, but for making progress and advancing processes.”

Jorma Kivelä

CTO, Co-founder & Chairman of the Board, Jutel

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Would you like to hear more?

Contact Jukka for more information.

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