Oct 28, 2016

The cloud is a major theme again at IBC 2017, with a noticeable trend towards all scales of video service providers starting to embrace these options for core operations. Verimatrix identified cloudification as one of the major trends for the year at the start of 2017 and has seen ample confirmation of these moves from the market and our customers. Operators are looking for competitive advantage and increased agility so that new features and service options can be brought to market far faster than in the past.

In this context, leverage of cloud based services – and more specifically – cloud-centric service subsystems are another major step towards software empowerment and virtualization of the video infrastructure. We have been talking about this industry theme for a couple of years now, tracking the way that operators are evaluating relocation of their principal ecosystem components, including encoding, security and even set-top box functionality to virtual environments and onwards to the cloud. It’s become apparent along the way, for example, that by making some of these shifts it becomes much easier to integrate OTT offerings with traditional service delivery and provide a consistent experience across all platforms wherever the user may be. Often the more dynamic operational environment of the cloud helps achieve a deeper level of personalization and customization by harnessing analytics data across the delivery platforms – and using such data to drive improvements beyond simple QoE.

Another less obvious point has emerged from Verimatrix’s own market analysis and discussions with customers, which is that although just about all video service providers are destined for the cloud as part of their journey towards software-empowered IP-based operations, they are progressing at their own rates in very different ways. At one point, it looked as if outsourcing to online video publishers (OVPs) would be just a temporary stage in this migration as a go-to approach for operators under pressure to establish multi-screen versions of their service to contain cord cutting, and to defend against OTT providers and rivals offering “skinny bundles.” We envisioned that the inability to select components essential for competitive advantage would lead larger operators at least to the alternative DIY approach, made increasingly attractive by maturing interoperability standards. 

However, we have learned that while the force is indeed with the best-of-breed approach, at least for mission-critical components like security, OVPs in turn are embracing some aspects of this themselves. They have recognized that flexibility and scale are essential. Meanwhile, the DIY approach is itself becoming more nuanced, taking account of some operators favoring outsourcing some of the less critical components to deploy and operate multi-screen services. Operational models now then range from a total DIY approach at one extreme to a full OVP solution at the other, with various shades of hybrid in between.

Meanwhile video security has become intimately interwoven with critical aspects of service delivery and personalization, especially analytics, as well as with infrastructure components such as the head end. Therefore, we have ensured that our cloud strategy and product rollout cater for the wide diversity of migration approaches being taken by its actual and prospective customer base.

This has been reflected in the Verimatrix Secure Cloud launched in August 2017, which offers a cloud based alternative deployment option to on-premises systems for all the product families. These include Verspective, MultiRights OTT Plus for OTT services and our flagship Video Content Authority System (VCAS) for broadcast operations. These encompass Verspective Operator Analytics, as well as the StreamMark and VideoMark forensic watermarking solutions, which by their nature our network based and therefore dovetail neatly with Secure Cloud.

Equally, Secure Cloud underpins Verimatrix’ strategy for IoT, which is itself a major theme at IBC this year because it represents a potentially lucrative new market for many pay-TV and broadband operators. They already have a relationship with the customer and established physical presence via the home gateway or set top box, placing them well to control and integrate IoT services in the home. The IoT offers familiar challenges and opportunities relating to security and analytics, which Verimatrix has taken into account in the development of its package called Vtegrity, unveiled today ahead of IBC 2017.

This builds on existing platforms and proven expertise to address critical security gaps that threaten to compromise the many current or emerging IoT services that fail to ensure the integrity of connected devices. These weaknesses are occurring both at initial deployment and over the subsequent application lifecycle, where Vtegrity scores by firstly incorporating the same hardware-anchored device security regime offered by the Verimatrix VCAS revenue security solution for pay TV. Vtegrity then harnesses the cloud-based analytics components of Verspective to enable secure data collection and behavioral insight compliant with new regulatory frameworks. Above all, the security is renewable via the cloud, which is essential for the IoT where the emerging threat landscape is even more unpredictable than that for pay TV. The ability to counter emerging threats as they arise and, equally crucially, respond quickly to intrusions that do get through to limit damage, will be crucial.

Underlining all of this is the reality that operators will have widely varying requirements in speed and direction of travel over the next few years. Therefore, although all the Verimatrix product areas are hinged on the cloud, they are designed to work with on-premise operations and components for as long as the operators require. The idea is to help operators work out the most effective transition from where they are now to a future of software based services running on virtualized infrastructure in the cloud.