Dr Paul Stallard, Head of TV Systems Management at Ericsson, on the growing importance of operator CDNs, and the challenges involved in adding cloud delivery to content services.
What new challenges are being faced by media delivery networks in a multi-screen world?
Multi-screen solutions are very popular with consumers and their usage continues to grow rapidly.
As asset libraries grow and usage increases, it is ever more important that media delivery networks can manage the increasing volumes efficiently and help minimise the growth in operator’s operational costs.
More investment will be needed to ensure the networks can sustain the growth generated by the increasing consumer demand for internet-based video services.
The number of devices that need to be supported continues to grow too, and with industry standards like MPEG-DASH still in their early stages, the number of resolutions, aspect ratios, packaging formats and DRMs that need to be supported is still a major headache.
What are some of the ways in which an operator can meet these challenges?
A unified media delivery network, combining both operator CDN functionality and transparent caching, can dramatically reduce the load on the network while also helping to improve the end user experience.
A content management system (CMS) will enable operators to optimise their ability to meet consumer demand and ensure operational costs do not escalate when managing the complexities associated with multi-screen services.
We are also actively promoting the MPEG DASH standard and see that as a way that the industry can help simplify the delivery of these services.
What role does cloud delivery have in an efficient TV anywhere strategy?
We tend not to talk about cloud delivery, but rather cloud services. From the consumer’s perspective, cloud services coupled with ubiquitous high-speed broadband access enable the TV anywhere vision.
Cloud services bring ‘anything to everything’ and will transform the expectation by consumers that having ownership and storage of assets is critical.
Content will continue to be delivered from CDNs. Global CDNs will continue to have a role to play in moving content across the globe but we increasingly expect consumers to receive content from operator CDNs with delivery nodes distributed deep in the network.
The emergence of operator CDNs will enable TV anywhere by scaling the delivery capacity and maintaining quality of experience.
What are the common challenges encountered when adding cloud delivery to the mix?
Operators deploying CDNs today must be careful to consider how the solution will evolve over time.
Initial deployments may be relatively small but the architecture must be flexible enough to allow the system to scale without a complete redesign. It should be possible to change the CDN topology, add layers to the caching hierarchy and add nodes of varying capacity easily.
Deploying separate CDN and transparent caching solutions can be costly compared to an integrated solution that uses a single platform and allows the operator to dynamically trade off resources between the services based on demand.
Also, as operators look to exploit their CDN for retail and wholesale applications, they must ensure the solution provides the necessary customer separation, portals, APIs and reporting.