WHY CLOUD CONTAINERS ARE THE FUTURE FOR TV SERVICE PROVIDERS By Johan Bolin, VP product, Edgeware
ncredibly high-quality televisions, the fastest internet connections, and mobile devices with crystal clear screens have changed the way viewers watch television. But these enablers of today’s TV don’t mean anything without one key element – the best quality of experience. And they need to deliver that in the form of the lowest latency live programming, uninterrupted content availability and increasingly personalised services. Meeting these challenges is no mean feat, but it is made much easier with a delivery system that lets TV service providers easily add capacity and new functionality in an efficient manner. IT SHOWS THE WAY FORWARD To design a solution that gives more TV providers the ability to easily customise the delivery workflows required in today’s television landscape, those designing a delivery system should take the lead of the IT industry. Specifically, how it’s learned to incorporate software as a replacement for outdated hardware and move entire workflows into the Cloud. What has become clear is that software – Cloud-based or otherwise – is now key to executing certain functions and creating a delivery workflow that can be changed as needed depending on user and market trends. The choice facing TV providers is whether to roll out said software using virtual machines (VMs) or software containers, with the latter quickly becoming the preferred option for a variety of technical and operational reasons. THE CALL FOR CONTAINERS One of the biggest benefits of using containerised software for TV delivery is that single functions can be deployed with everything they need to run in one package. This is much more efficient than VMs, which need a hypervisor layer that requires its own operating system. Container software sits on top of a container manager and shares an underlying operating system, making it much better suited to TV service providers that need to be able to continuously add capacity and enhance functionality. It’s this architecture that allows operators to easily grow the capacity and reach of their delivery platforms without having to deploy separate
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VMs for each new application. Not only does this enhance delivery workflows, but it minimises disruption to services, which is crucial for meeting the demands of subscribers that expect to have continuous access to services. Cloud-based container software also enables TV service providers to pick and choose their preferred Cloud services from different vendors, requires fewer resources for deployment and is cheaper than relying on the VM alternative. This all points towards containers as being the future of TV delivery in the digital age. SATISFYING THE NEEDS OF THE NEXT GENERATION Ultimately, containerised software gives content distributors the power to adapt their workflows, tailor services for their audiences and meet constantly changing audience demands. It allows them to ‘mix and match’ different deployment options for TV delivery. This means that they can create a customised solution where central functionality is deployed in the Cloud and decentralised CDN functionality such as streaming and caching runs on purpose-built TV servers or on COTS machines. The key thing for TV service providers to remember is that containerised software creates a delivery workflow that they can use to deliver real-time customisations, going beyond what has traditionally been possible for broadcasters. This caters for future generations of viewers and lets broadcasters provide enriched services even before audiences demand it – something which is sure to keep them coming back for more. n
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