SAN JOSE, CALIF.—Video infrastructure is changing. Traditionally, broadcast infrastructure was entirely based on hardware. But as video content and service providers look to launch broadcast and OTT services faster, gain operational efficiencies and reduce OPEX and CAPEX, they are shifting to software-based and cloud workflows. Cloud-native technology, in particular, provides the agility, flexibility and scalability that are needed today, enabling operators to manage their entire video preparation and delivery workflow via public or private cloud infrastructure.
This article will make several bold predictions about where cloud-native technology is headed for 2017 and beyond. With a better understanding of the evolution of cloud-native workflows, operators can dramatically simplify their broadcast and OTT operations, while retaining exceptional video quality.
DEPLOLYING CLOUD-NATIVE APPLICATIONS WILL REQUIRE A MINDSET-SHIFT
Video content and service providers that want to be successful in the cloud-native environment must approach cloud-native applications as more than just a technology change. It’s a mindset-shift. With the cloud, there is no longer the notion of a siloed workflow approach, meaning that functionalities like transcoding, packaging, encryption and the origin server are not separate like they once were with a traditional infrastructure. Cloud-native technology enables operators to approach their workflow from a holistic, service-oriented point of view.
Since separate silos no longer exist, troubleshooting changes. There is no longer a need for a test point after each and every function. When a channel goes down, DevOps can troubleshoot the issue from a single interface, as opposed to checking each separate piece of hardware equipment to determine the root of the problem.
Deploying a software-as-a-service (SaaS) solution hosted in the public cloud and maintained and monitored by a video infrastructure provider takes the notion of simplified workflows to the extreme. Operators do not see any technology change because everything is managed and monitored for them, resulting in a much slimmer organization, allowing operators to focus on more important tasks at hand like monetization.
CLOUD-NATIVE APPLICATIONS WILL BE DEPLOYED SOLELY ON PUBLIC CLOUD
While content security in a public cloud infrastructure was once a concern, the industry has responded with a range of technologies that address the problem; and it continues to do so. With security issues well in hand, it’s likely that in three to five years, the industry will be fully relying on public infrastructure, such as Amazon AWS, Microsoft Azure, or Google Cloud, for cloud-native media processing. The easiest and fastest way to deploy a cloud application is with public infrastructure for multiple reasons. Building a private infrastructure requires a very high CAPEX and OPEX investment in hardware, and the ROI isn’t guaranteed. Moreover, private cloud infrastructure can take months to build, whereas operators can launch cloud-native applications on public infrastructure instantaneously. Scalability is another benefit of public cloud infrastructure. With public cloud infrastructure, video content and service providers pay for the resources they use as they grow. Cloud services can be added and removed quickly, and making improvements to the user experience can be immediate.
NEW WORKFLOWS WILL EMERGE IN THE CLOUD
Over the last year, the industry has seen cloud-native offerings that support various elements of the media processing workflow, from ingest to playout, graphics, transcoding, encryption and delivery. In 2017, new workflow applications for the cloud will emerge, such as the move to an all-IP over the internet distribution model. Channel origination is another area where operators are looking to the cloud to simplify their workflows.
When channel origination moves to the cloud, several important workflow changes take place.
The operator’s existing traffic system provides the cloud-native application with the schedule of all of the files required for playout, including primary and secondary events, as well as the file location. The cloud application takes care of the rest, from logging into an external storage system and retrieving the file to normalizing it if needed, adding secondary events like graphics, and ensuring that the file is distributed in the right format for both OTT and broadcast.
VIDEO QUALITY AND BANDWIDTH EFFICIENCY WILL INCREASE IN THE CLOUD
Video compression optimization is trending, and it’s not only available for traditional workflows. We’re starting to see real-time video compression optimization solutions that can be utilized on cloud-native technology to deliver a superior viewing experience on HTTP-connected devices while reducing bandwidth consumption by up to 50 percent—without requiring any changes to underlying existing delivery infrastructure and video players.
Cloud-native technology is making a huge impact on media processing and delivery, going beyond the limitations of virtualized appliances and hardware-defined video architectures, which are costly to deploy and maintain, exceedingly complex and limited in scalability. With a cloud-native application or SaaS, operators can launch a service quickly and change the workflow once it goes live, with minimal investment, generating instant revenue through capabilities such as time-shift TV, VOD and cloud DVR. Of course, video content and service providers will need to shift their entire mindset, in terms of approaching functionalities from a holistic, service-oriented standpoint.
For operators that already own a private cloud for voice and data apps, adding a video service makes perfect sense from an ROI point of view. But the majority of video content and service providers will find that the public cloud offers the agility, low cost and scalability they are looking for to be competitive in today’s fast-paced and ever-changing video service environment.
Yaniv Beniv-Soussan is vice president-product management, cloud and SaaS with Harmonic.