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A Zer0 Friction Approach to Adaptive Monitoring and Optimizing Assets

Journal Article from TAG

Mon 17, 01 2022

Maximizing OTT monitoring and how the cloud fits in

Consumers do not care how content gets delivered to them. They want to watch what they want, where they want. But they do expect a certain level of quality and performance and will quickly move on to the next provider if this is not delivered.

Satellite, cable, and telco operators are increasingly using OTT delivery to supplement and even replace traditional media delivery methods to engage and maintain viewers. But to maintain a high quality of experience for their customers, operators need a way to monitor hundreds — sometimes thousands—of channels and signal points without compromising real-time error detection. In most cases, the immense scale of their service offerings makes continual visual monitoring of all streams impossible.

The move to OTT requires service providers to deploy a much more dynamic infrastructure, one that can scale on demand as viewing surges during peak times, one that enables the launch of event-specific and time limited channels, one that enables infrastructure to be built on the fly. The business advantages are great and multi-faceted but taking full advantage demands a comprehensive, agile and operationally sophisticated monitoring solution to match.

No one builds out an IP based facility or transforms their production and distribution base to operate in the cloud without banking on the economic benefits that ensue. But there’s no sense trying to capitalize on these opportunities if the best-case technologies are not leveraged and proper business models don’t follow suit.

The emergence of the cloud into the media production and delivery space has pushed the broadcast and media industry toward an entirely new approach to acquiring and deploying technology. Large capital expenditures (CapEx) are increasingly being replaced by operating expense (OpEx) budgets that are more flexible and aligned with the operational requirements of today’s broadcast facilities.

And in addition to the migration to cloud, another revolution is taking place in parallel - the adoption of flexible and floating software licenses and the business models that finally allow broadcasters to maximize asset utilization.

60-70% of the time an asset sits in a rack unused. The same is also true for cumbersome and convoluted licensing practices that require specific licenses for each feature. For example, a customer may have to purchase UHD licenses that only get used for an occasional project. It’s an extremely expensive and highly inefficient model, especially when there is an alternative at hand.

Adaptive Monitoring

Enter Adaptive Monitoring - a mechanism that allocates resources where they are needed, reducing the level of monitoring and analysis, and providing content owners with the freedom to scale. In conventional monitoring deployments, the cost of licenses and compute power for full-time monitoring would place a ceiling on the number of points that could be monitored. But with Adaptive Monitoring, operators can mix and match different monitoring modes and have the agility to balance CPU resources against their need to monitor streams in real time. With the freedom to implement different monitoring modes within a single deployment, operators can take advantage of automated and adaptive resource allocation to get the most value from their available server resources.  The result is a system that matches the cost of monitoring to the value of the content at that particular node in the delivery system, minimizing costs while maximizing the breadth and depth of monitoring.

Adaptive Monitoring allows monitoring in any of three operating modes—full monitoring, light monitoring, and extra-light monitoring—on a per-input-source basis. Using thresholds set by the operator within the software or triggered by an API connecting the system to external devices monitoring the overall ecosystem, the system automatically adapts to ensure optimal monitoring of all streams at all times.

While Adaptive Monitoring is invaluable in optimizing monitoring using on-premises hardware, it yields even greater benefits for cloud-based operations. The ability to dynamically change utilization of instances based on need at any given time can dramatically reduce the operational costs of cloud processing. Moving away from physical hardware, operators no longer need to scale their equipment and infrastructure to support maximum channel capacity—or leave hardware unused during non-peak times. The combination of Adaptive Monitoring and cloud-based processing resources allows operators to move toward a more economical pay-per-use model in which they can scale instances to match their need.

Whether processing takes place on-premises or in the cloud, Adaptive Monitoring ensures that if the system detects a problem on a channel, that channel is automatically switched to full monitoring mode. The dynamic nature of this model makes this an ideal solution for the many operators that need efficient high-density probing and monitoring of OTT channels without compromise.

A Zer0 Friction Approach

Imagine an OpEx model where the broadcaster only pays for the time its products are in use. As a production facility in London comes offline, for example, its product licences can be switched off or reassigned to its OTT or playout division anywhere around the world without incurring any penalty for doing so. This ability to move quickly from application to application can be described as ‘zero-friction’.  A zero-friction business model allows for product deployment wherever and whenever it is required, in turn rocketing asset utilisation up to 80 and 90 per cent.

Thanks to the processing speed and data throughput of COTS hardware customers now have the technology they need to manage media across their entire organization. Software running on a common platform provides a whole host of functionality to further improve resource utilization.

Building on this, flexible software licenses are now ready to enable or disable functionality within a single software distribution. These licenses further improve flexibility as they can be purchased on a pay-as-you-go basis. Broadcasters want the freedom to allocate their licenses not only where and when, but for whatever product, feature and function they desire, maximizing flexibility.

Performing automated analysis of video and data on thousands of signals while keeping costs down is made possible with sophisticated Adaptive Monitoring and optimized with the agility of a zero-friction business model.

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