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The 2020 VCAS Security Challenge: Which Scenario Is Best for Your Business?

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Hindsight may be 20/20, but four months into 2020, the world is a place that nobody could have predicted. COVID-19 is disrupting life as usual – with content production shut down, movie theaters closed and consumers stuck at home, yet eagerly viewing all the streaming content they can find. The entire entertainment industry is hurrying to adapt to this new normal. Some believe life, and business, will never be the same again.

“You are going to see a lot of changes in our industry after this,” said Jeff Frost, president of Sony Pictures Television Studios in a recent Wall Street Journal article. He may be right.

Like thousands of companies dealing with the coronavirus pandemic, Verimatrix has quickly adapted its operations to maintain business continuity, while enabling remote work capabilities to protect its staff, local communities, partners, and customers.

One of the hidden benefits of adapting to these challenges is taking stock of how one conducts business.

As video service providers face viewing spikes, increases in piracy, and cord cutting as subscribers feel the economic impact, discussions around video security, scaling, optimization and monetization have a decidedly different tone; an eagerness to solve problems. Companies are interested in what they can do today to create a more resilient business for the future.

Let’s take a moment to delve into video security deployment to better understand the options that network operators face with choosing an ecosystem that’s right for them – and better understand why the path they choose might impact their bottom line more than they realize.

Typical Verimatrix VCAS customers operate in one of four deployment models:

  1. On-Premises – Physical Hardware
  2. On-Premises – Virtual Hardware
  3. Private Cloud
  4. Verimatrix Secure Cloud

On-Premises – Physical Hardware

Established video service providers that operate DVB/IPTV or hybrid networks are predominantly running Verimatrix VCAS on location in private facilities. They follow the CAPEX way of doing business, which means investments in physical server rooms, hardware, and head-ends that handle content encoding, encryption, and delivery to their subscribers from one or more secure facilities.

They have redundant deployments that are always scaled to handle the demands of maximum peak load to ensure good consumer experiences. They are prepared for their entire subscriber base to reconnect at once in the event of a massive power outage, for example. They have fully redundant power, connectivity, and air-conditioning to their server rooms. They maintain 24/7/365 staff to oversee and administer their systems, environments, and hardware.

On a regular three-to-five year cycle, they must refresh all of their hardware to stay within manufacturer support windows and keep up with the ever-evolving needs of the software running on their systems.

With these robust security systems in place, they can be less flexible and less agile to respond to technology enhancements and new customer preferences. However, they are in complete control. Migration to an alternative deployment seems unthinkable.

But if such a network operator was curious about alternative infrastructure deployments, critical migration questions would include:

  • When was your last set of hardware refresh?
  • Do you have to manage an infrastructure that is often over or under-scaled for your subscriber base?
  • How long would it take you to migrate to virtual machine (VM) deployments?
  • Have you calculated the resources it would take to migrate to a less hardware-dependent infrastructure?

On-Premises – Virtual Hardware

Many of today’s more progressive video service providers that have aggressively worked to avoid cost spikes when upgrading hardware have already made the transition to running privately hosted virtual hardware stacks. They operate much the same as service providers with on-prem physical hardware.

However, rather than running discrete hardware stacks that are subject to that three-to-five year hardware refresh cycle, they are utilizing VM solutions that allow them to create and carve up more compute, memory, storage and bandwidth resources in a more dynamic fashion.

VMs can be configured and curated specifically to the needs of the software that will be running. This enables them to adjust and tweak resources to meet and manage the loads being placed on their head-end by their subscriber base. This gives them more flexibility and adaptability than network operators utilizing just physical hardware. There is still some CAPEX expenditure involved in maintaining and supporting the hardware stacks behind the VM deployments.

Key migration questions for this group of operators might include:

  • How do you stay competitive with OTT offerings that may erode your subscriber base?
  • Can you launch your own OTT offerings without having to expand your VM configurations and how long would it take?
  • How long would it take to migrate to the cloud?

Private Cloud

In the last several years, some video service providers have embraced switching to the OPEX model over CAPEX and have begun utilizing cloud service providers such as AWS, Microsoft, Google, Alibaba, etc. These operators run similar deployments as VM, with the difference being that they are leveraging the infrastructure-as-a-service (IaaS) models of the cloud providers.

This allows operators with a private cloud instance to run VCAS at levels that meet the current subscriber base needs. VCAS licenses would never be over-provisioned, and the underlying cloud deployments are able to spin up additional capacity and spin it back down again.

These operators have their own in-house cloud teams that still provide 24/7/365 administration and operation in the same way that operators with on-premises deployment do. While free of the challenges and headaches of supporting and maintaining physical hardware, they have picked up new challenges in the form of security and vulnerability management.

Key migrations questions for private cloud operators:

  • Does your private cloud leverage native security services?
  • How often do you evolve your solution to leverage new ones?
  • Have you followed your cloud providers’ security best practices?

Verimatrix Secure Cloud

The Verimatrix Secure Cloud™ was built to meet the evolving needs of video service providers that seek of the scalability and flexibility of engaging in software-as-a-service (SaaS). This has become especially important during this period of increased video streaming.

Service providers leverage usage-based consumption allowing them to only pay for what they use each month. One of the biggest advantages of VCAS deployments in the Verimatrix Secure Cloud is the auto scaling that occurs to meet traffic needs without requiring human intervention. Operators maintain the ability to interface with VCAS on an API level so that user interfaces (UIs) and are no longer concerned with the underlying infrastructure operation and security.

This has proven popular with service providers that are launching new multi-DRM offerings or looking to combat churn from DVB/IPTV subscribers to OTT services. It has helped reduce not only the time-to-market to trial and launch such offerings, but also the investment costs involved.

Our Global and Cloud Operations teams remotely manage the platform 24/7/365, which gives us the ability to react more quickly to market and audience shifts. This has positioned us to be able to support our customers with a level of responsiveness that is not possible to achieve with other deployment models.

In fact, we have customers experiencing a 30%-60% increase in demand within a few days of shelter-in-place orders. An on-prem operator has to manage supply chain disruption, including obtaining hardware for expansion, and risk employee health by having them install and configure it. Cloud-based operators scaled in minutes without anyone being exposed.

Managing cloud-based security provides an additional hidden benefit: supporting additional content protection requirements from content owners without the operator needing to factor those in from the ground up. This is an advantage as content owners and creators have made decisions to release movies intended for theaters available to the consumer directly or live broadcasts, such as concerts and extended content for traditional broadcast shows.

Since they are running their security via the Verimatrix Secure Cloud, secure expansion of capacity is ubiquitous and cost-efficient. Spikes are easily normalized and service runs smoothly.

To hear from our customers and the broader industry how they are adapting to COVID-19 watch our live panel, Video Content Distribution & Consumption on-demand.

Video Security Challenge Recap

The silver lining from the inherent global economic slowdown of COVID-19 is that organizations have the opportunity to truly evaluate how they want to continue doing business. How can video service providers better position their networks for success – and should they do it now while the current crisis is accelerating the pace of change in the industry?

And if the time is now, which of the above scenarios are you living in today – and which ecosystem is the optimal environment for your business to thrive in? COVID-19 is the source of disruption this time, but it impossible to predict what and when will be the next one. It is important to build a resilient business in order to be prepared.

Fortunately, Verimatrix has vast experience in helping our customers determine the right migration path that meets their business goals. We are happy to guide you through your VCAS assessment.

Please contact us to learn more about how we can prepare you for VCAS success today, and well into tomorrow.

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