A winning content delivery solution? It’s the pits

Just like in the F1 Championship, content distribution winners are made behind-the-scenes as much as on the track.

You can only fit one person in the cockpit of a Mercedes AMG F1 car – and fortunately for the team’s winning chances, in the exciting 2014 season that man was Lewis Hamilton. But he would likely be the first to agree that he is just the final cog in a massive machine, which stretches from the steering wheel to the pit lane, and then all the way back to the engineers in the team’s UK headquarters.

He’d also likely agree that the Championship is won as much in those pits, at headquarters, and in the team garage, as it is on the track. Because it’s the design, engineering and mechanical hardware and expertise that enable him to drive like a demon.

In many ways, the same goes for TV streaming. The fact is, if you want to see the chequered flag rather than a red flag, you need to consider every element of what makes a winner.

Arguably, Mercedes AMG F1’s rivals focused too much on getting all possible power out of the new hybrid V6 turbo engine, becoming too distracted by the new rules and requirements as opposed to looking at the complete picture and maintaining resource on the unchanged. In a similar way, there is a risk in the content distribution space that too heavy a focus is placed solely on the Cloud as the answer to everything.

A more forward and lateral-thinking approach – just like that demonstrated by Mercedes AMG F1 – gives a more balanced and ultimately more successful strategy.

The Mercedes AMG F1 team themselves said that victory in 2014 was the result of “…a fully integrated approach, focused not on horsepower…but on maximising the lap time of the overall technical package.” Similarly, a Software Defined Network (SDN) doesn’t focus solely on the Cloud, or on eliminating hardware. Instead it aims to optimise every component in the overall content delivery chain, to create balance and best performance.

Shared physical or virtual resources are certainly part of the content delivery solution, to provide scale and elasticity. But just as Lewis on his own wouldn’t win a race, so they can’t hope to satisfactorily serve every single aspect of end-to-end IPTV delivery.

For example, at times of peak transaction and peak demands on the network, in theory it’s possible to borrow resources, even in a virtualised environment. But even the best-planned schedules can often go awry. All it takes is one global news story and a resulting unexpected surge in content consumption, and suddenly the Cloud’s capabilities are under stress. And then where do you go to quickly borrow capacity, to keep viewers comfortably catered for?

It’s not only the unexpected that can be difficult for the Cloud to cope with. Even scheduled content can throw up problems if it’s the kind that creates extreme peaks – such as the dramatic finale of the season’s F1 Championship at Abu Dhabi.

So a Video SDN provides this strategic balance, differing from the Cloud in that certain appropriate functions are deployed in software where they can be virtualised and shared, while others continue to use purpose-built, dedicated hardware to guarantee performance and throughput. It is a considered and harmonised approach, like that taken by Mercedes AMG F1, to ensure that the very best outcome is delivered by the most appropriate delivery mechanism. By looking beyond the Cloud, and ensuring the best-designed and most appropriate component is serving each specific requirement of the network, performance is optimised. Suddenly, you’re not just streaming, but steaming ahead.

So to get yourself in pole position for content delivery, start here.

Author:

Matt Parker
Director, New Business Development

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