OPINION AND ANALYSIS
Virtualisation transforms channel creation from months to minutes By Stuart Newton, VP strategy within the corporate development group at Telestream
t is not too dramatic to say that we are on the cusp of a new technology-driven era where consumers can enjoy rich media on the broadest range of viewing devices in ways that would have been unimaginable just a few years ago. Today, OTT offers revolutionary opportunities to consume media where, when and how consumers dictate. The younger generation consume media in very different ways from their parents. The advent of OTT services is fuelling a viewer revolution, and it is the OTT delivery channel which offers so much commercial opportunity to content owners and video services providers worldwide. When considering the evolution of OTT services, the role of the Cloud will be dramatic, as it frequently makes practical sense for content that will ultimately be delivered via internet to be processed there. However, whilst content providers are increasingly using Cloud services, this is only one part of the story when OTT is regarded in a holistic fashion. Even if a big content provider puts all of its content into the Cloud, the media still needs to get to the consumer’s smartphone or other consumption device. The means of doing this might be via Wi-Fi Cloud, cellular network or broadband to the home. Whatever the means, the video service provider/network operator plays a key role, and, for them, the Cloud is just one of a number of technology issues. For service providers looking to deliver their own video services, infrastructure virtualisation is becoming critical to the efficiency and flexibility goals they are setting. To achieve these goals they will require video infrastructure virtualisation, which can
leverage the lessons and techniques learned from Network Functions Virtualisation (NFV) to provide similar flexibility for media functions. Video infrastructure virtualisation relies upon, but differs from, traditional server-virtualisation techniques, such as those used in enterprise IT. In NFV applications, a virtualised network function (VNF) may consist of one or more virtual machines running different software and processes, on top of standard high-volume servers, switches and storage devices, or even Cloud computing infrastructure, instead of having custom hardware appliances for each network function. This allows a repository of “functions” that can be called upon to be “orchestrated” into the delivery chain as needed, and provide excellent resource, scaling, and redundancy flexibility. The same kind of architecture can now be leveraged to provide video services where “media functions” (such as an encoder) can be orchestrated in a similar way. For the network operator and video service provider, it is a new way of viewing the supply chain challenge: they can virtualise an entire video delivery network. They can construct a virtualised video headend on premises and build the core delivery network within their data centres. Many of these organisations would ideally like to create hybrid architectures that combine on-premise video infrastructure virtualisation and Cloud to create an agile software-based video delivery architecture. In comparison, content owners don’t own the complete delivery network, so they rely more on Cloud operators
‘When considering the evolution of OTT services, the role of the Cloud will be dramatic.’ 06 | TVBEUROPE MARCH 2019
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