Such architecture can provide a premium integrated user experience ensuring relevance of Telco services across consumer electronic touch points, both inside and outside home. The architecture allows consumer electronic devices to seamlessly integrate with the platform making the devices’ prime functionality simplistic, limited to transaction with application servers and graphics representation. On the device end, only account information for customer identification and authentication would be needed. Post device authentication and activation, the lightweight application on the device would serve as a resident navigator processing and rendering user input. The services consumed across these devices would be handled by the cloud and the application server would assume an overpowering role controlling the context and state of the applications running on the devices. This makes the model scalable, capable of supporting devices running graphics engines ranging from Flash to OpenGL to Webkit to HTML5. Further, the service realization on the cloud ensures seamless upgrade of graphic device capabilities without denting services.
MCBCD model isn’t hassle free. Ensuring user performance and responsiveness despite the rise in number of users hitting the Application Server is a challenge. The steep ramp-up in number of users during service initiation and authentication can in-part be offloaded by horizontal scaling of Application Servers. However, this resolution is limited due to network speed issues and incremental cost per server. Further, delay in user response could also be caused by poor access/response time of data services in the cloud and their associated caches. Since the number of calls flowing in and out of these caches and data services is bound to be enormous and often in bursts, the response time and performance is largely limited by the network bandwidth and availability.
Another major challenge in cloud based content delivery is ensuring similar and sustainable high quality of customer experience. Unsustainable high bandwidth usage, high degree of network latency and availability of the network are primary factors that affect user QoE (Quality of Experience). This is especially true when delivering high volume personalized services, where user’s QoE is largely dependent on network bandwidth as the number of data service endpoints increase.
Overcoming Challenges in Cloud Based Content Delivery
Operators have control over network infrastructure, including the access network. They are strategically positioned to provide cloud services that meet QoE and cost requirements. This is true for video and gaming applications. Cloud solutions based solely on the OTT delivery model cannot be used to deliver high quality video services due to network unreliability and lack of control on infrastructure costs. Through control over the delivery network, operators have the mechanism to build solutions that can meet the needs for QoE and reduced network costs, while addressing the main obstacles. They can adopt one of several models – Build their own private cloud solutions and fully integrate them with their networks; provide white box cloudservice- hosting solutions that enable delivery of third-party cloud services from inside their domains and/or aim for solutions that generate revenue from improved connectivity. The choice of solution is largely a function of business goals and type of cloud that operators want to provide in alignment with their strategy. The key is in choosing the right suite of products/services and partnering with a strong system integrator having a proven track record of service maintenance. Together, they are capable of enabling a faster go-to-market MCBCD strategy.
Looking ahead, the unified video experience comprising of integrated linear, VOD and online entertainment across a host of consumer electronics devices at home will scale new horizons. User expectations of a personalized experience, shown best by the rise of applications on targeted search and recommendations, and cloud hosted content and applications based on open standards based application frameworks will make open ecosystems and open cloud platforms an inevitable future. Open cloud platform would need to enable orchestration of services, devices and subscribers over multiple networks, allowing seamless connect of existing and legacy systems. Alongside, they would be expected to leverage ecosystems that can be built for web scale and improved feature velocity.
1 Second Screen is a figure of speech used to refer to a plethora of other entertainment devices like tablet, smartphones and laptops,
2 Many market researchers testify the growing demand for video consumption. Market research, in the UK alone, revealed that VOD consumption is set to expand, from 5% of total TV viewing in 2010 to 9% by 2015, mainly due to increases in through-the-middle (TTM) and over-the-top (OTT) delivery to the TV set. Alongside, VOD advertising spend, worth about £75 million (equivalent to 2% of TV NAR) in 2010 will increase by 33% CAGR to £311 million (7% of forecast TV NAR) by 2015. The Nielsen’s Three Screen Report too revealed that more than 191 million Americans use the Internet, of which 134.5 million watch video over internet. A Juniper Research report pegged the market for streamed & broadcast mobile TV services at USD 16Billion worldwide in 2011.