Driving the future through cloud and virtualization: Part One

By Mark Russell, CTO and Head of  Strategy, Ericsson Media Solutions

The TV and Media industry is in the midst of an enormous transition towards and around software-defined networks – specifically cloud and the role of IP. Over the last few years, the topic of cloud and virtualization has been discussed extensively, to the extent that they now represent the keystone blocks towards unlocking the future of the broadcast industry.

Cloud-based services offer the inherent agility of internet-led services, alongside core broadcast quality. As widespread mobility, increased scalability and choice drives enormous competition across the media ecosystem, the industry is redefining the way consumers approach video content. An array of new entrants are opening up new pathways and driving even greater competition, helping to force
traditional content owners, broadcasters, network owners and TV service providers to find new ways to evolve and create unified user experiences that meet the expectations of this new internet era of TV and media.

The evolution from hardware and proprietary broadcaster specific tools to a much more open set of technologies promises great reward, with smarter, faster and more agile capabilities. The combination of IP and software is helping to transform broadcast workflow, enabling remote production, unprecedented connectivity and deeper reach to the home, while also offering richer and broader experiences to consumers.

Delivering on new consumer expectations

Our industry has to respond to this accelerated pace of change, particularly at a time when consumer expectations are outpacing the industry’s ability to deliver. The future of the TV industry will rely on the development of new and innovative technologies that not only reduce the complexity of the past, but also help to shrink the previously associated costs. Ultimately, we must recognize that the video climate is changing by understanding and efficiently delivering personalized and immersive viewing experience to viewers worldwide.

The usage of time-shifted TV or cloud DVR is at a record high and we can see that consumers are now evolving into the TV Everywhere generation. Consumers are now accessing more content and purchasing more services from new OTT players who are providing the personalized content that they looking for at a time of their convenience – and this is fundamentally changing the way they are watching video.

According to Ericsson ConsumerLab TV and Media research, on-demand content already represents over 40 percent of total TV and video consumption. Among teenagers, we can also see that they are spending more than half their time watching on-demand – an increase of more than 100 percent or almost 10 hours per week, since 2010. In addition, by 2020, around seven out of 10 of all consumers will prefer on-demand and catch-up services rather than scheduled linear TV viewing, and almost half of all viewing will be on demand.

Meeting the challenge of delivering time-shifted services

Yet the challenges to cloud DVR and time-shifted content are numerous – ranging from legal issues and storage concerns, through to the all-important performance requirements. As we can see through the enablement of virtualization and data-driven experiences, the convergence of the internet and media worlds are offering new possibilities to deliver deeper levels of scale and depth.

In order to tap into these flexible and scalable deployments, many operators are now looking to cloud technology to support their media solutions. As a company, we are addressing this complex subject through our Video Storage & Processing Platform (VSPP)– a multi-network, multi-device, multi-server solution that enables scalable ingest and storage of video content from small origin servers for video-on-demand, through to huge distributed private copy cloud DVR systems, combined with media processing capabilities such as content packaging and encryption.

As multiscreen delivery becomes increasingly important, the challenge of delivering across multiple handsets, formats, and reacting to traffic growth will be extremely challenging. In this regard, cloud based storage of content is just as crucial to final delivery.

You can read the second part of Mark Russell’s blog here!