Q&A: Tiaan Schutte, President, Alticast
Virtualization and migration to the cloud have had major impact on other industries. How do you think these technologies will change the pay TV industry?
Virtualization will enable core pay TV delivery functions such as business operations and media handling to be moved into a cloud infrastructure. The separation of the content distribution from the network removes the requirement for dedicated infrastructure by the Pay TV operator. It also allows content preparation functions and delivery platforms that are currently repeated in various pay TV operations to be consolidated into a single cloud function. New content distribution models, where the content is transcoded and DRM packaged prior to wholesale distribution, may emerge. Competition will increase as cloud based infrastructures with OTT delivery enable new market entrants, such as Netflix and cable companies will no longer be tied to a geographic footprint allowing them to compete with each other.
What are the advantages to pay TV operators and content providers in moving to the cloud?
Moving to the Cloud will equip pay TV operators to rise to the increased consumer demand for high quality video on all devices. Costs optimization will be delivered through the migration from dedicated hardware platforms to scalable software instances in the Cloud. For example, pay TV operators can virtualize the STB to reduce both the BoM STB and also lower the TCO through reduced overhead in software release cycles, fault detection and resolution.
How will the adoption of cloud technologies by the pay TV industry benefit consumers?
Consumers will benefit from more innovative, appealing and convenient services being supplied in a more cost effective way. Cloud PVR, catch-up, startover TV – are all features made possible through cloud storage and intelligent software solutions for indexing, archiving and serving the content to any device. Compare this with the old DVR STB model in which a consumer had to plan ahead of schedule the content they wanted to watch and was restricted to watching it back on a single device. With the wealth of analytics being available through cloud delivery, we will see more personalized solutions being delivered to consumers with great improvements in the quality of the services.
What products and services is Alticast offering in this space?
Alticast’s AltiPlex Cloud Services Platform (CSP) provides an array of solutions: back office integration, metadata delivery, user and device management, as well as Cloud DVR and Cloud UI, where the UI is executed in the Cloud as opposed to on the STB or other device. This radically changes the UI delivery model as interfaces can be defined on a per user per device basis, and the delivery and test cycle can be shortened dramatically. This is win-win for both operators and consumers as new innovative features can be introduced quickly and at lower cost without any impact on quality. In addition, we offer a HDMI stick, which can be used in conjunction with the AltiPlex Cloud Services Platform (CSP) to enable content owners to directly deliver their services using IP to end-consumers at attractive price points.
How reliable is the cloud? What are the risks of moving components of a core service to the cloud, and is moving to a cloud-based architecture going to put a heavy load on networks as more concurrent users are added?
Multiple industries have laid the groundwork solving issues like geographic redundancy and fail over for seamless quality of service. In the pay TV industry, reservations around the reliability of the last-mile networks can be allayed by guaranteeing core functions such as security and UI, through caching in the device to enable a continuation of service, [in the worst case of a network outage]. Clearly moving to a cloud-based architecture will cause increased network traffic as well as server usage. However, solutions need to be designed with this in mind, as with the Alticast Plex Cloud Service Platform (CSP) which is highly scalable and consumes low bandwidth even when delivering highly complex UIs.
How do you see the market evolving in the future and what other products and services do you see emerging from the adoption of a cloud based architecture?
IoT services around the smart home will benefit greatly from the cloud and the TV plays a critical role in this – it could be a control device for IoT infrastructure and at the same time could be a ‘thing’ itself to be controlled. There are many issues to consider around the security and usability of collected IoT data: Pay TV operators with a secure network and cloud platform have a great opportunity to be the central hub in IoT infrastructures in the home.