A few years ago at Mobile World Congress (well more than a few, perhaps…), I was speaking with the CTO of a top tier Mobile Operator about a newly emerging technology called IMS. It seemed that every vendor was promising how IMS was going to change the world. This very wise CTO stated that he needs to see a tangible benefit or value from a new technology to be interested. “I will only buy a new technology if you can show me how it can (a) do something I cannot do today, or (b) improve the way I am doing something today. I will not buy technology for the sake of technology.” This simple axiom is a great lens to look through as one views all new technologies – and that is certainly the case for the current industry discussion around Virtualization – or more accurately from Cisco’s perspective on the topic, Virtualization and Orchestration.
But instead of joining in with the multitudes talking about the wonders of the technology, arguing around technical specs or nomenclature, the lesson from the CTO instead guides me to talk about what it can do for the service provider business.
It hasn’t been all that long since HD-quality video gained widespread acceptance as an industry standard. Yet a new resolution standard is capturing the attention of the broadcast world. It’s known as 4K (or Ultra High Definition – UHD), and it offers viewers four times the picture resolution of standard HD. At CES 2014, one of the hot trends among TV set manufacturers, along with sets that curve and flex, was a 4K display. It’s the new standard for TVs, and while it currently has a price point that keeps it firmly high-end, the story sounds familiar: 4K TV sets will only get cheaper to manufacture, consumer demand will grow, and broadcasters will need to adapt.
So is change inevitable? Actually, no.
For 4K to truly develop into an industry standard, it will require several players in the video value chain to row in the same direction at the same time. This could certainly happen, but by no means is this assured. For instance, 4K TVs need content filmed in 4K. Will this become a new standard? Perhaps, but this would require significant and costly changes for an industry that only recently embraced the HD standard.
The Cisco Visual Networking Index (VNI) confirms much of what we already know: Service providers will need to carry more video traffic to more devices delivered as unique on-demand streams. All at the time and place of the end-user’s choosing.
But the sheer scale of this demand makes interesting reading. The Cisco VNI projects that by 2017, the global Internet will reach nearly half (48%) the world’s population, each with roughly five devices and machine-to-machine connections. Together, they will drive a total of 93 exabytes of internet traffic per month. Significantly, Internet video will make up two thirds of this Internet traffic, 65% of which will be carried over content delivery networks (CDN).
And it’s not only Internet video.
Cisco VNI also projects that by 2017, video on-demand (VOD) traffic will nearly triple as it reaches 400 million global subscribers.
The bottom line is that service providers need to deal with unprecedented scale requirements with ever greater capabilities to manage and monitor their CDNs.
Why should you put a virtualized content delivery network (CDN) in the cloud?
This is not just a theoretical question. It has come from our customers. At our recent Cisco Live event in Milan, we demonstrated how our continued CDN technical leadership can answer this question.
First, some history, as you can’t just begin with the cloud.
At Cisco, we’ve been working hard over the years to evolve our Videoscape Distribution Suite (VDS) platform. From its roots in hardware-based appliances, to software applications powered by our data center hardware, and more recently to virtual machine implementations which can be powered by our own or third party hardware. Each technological advance to our VDS platform has netted gains for our customers in their CDN deployments; whether through more flexible deployment from greater hardware independence, faster time-to-market implementing VDS software applications, or reduced total cost of ownership thanks to server-based virtualization that optimizes footprint and power/cooling requirements.
Israeli subscribers to satellite TV provider yes can now view 60+ channels of live/linear video, and thousands of on-demand titles, on devices well beyond the television set — and they can do so inside and outside of their homes.
It kicked off on December 23, when yes announced its “yesGO” service to PCs and Macs, as well as iOS and Android devices. (Tablets are particularly popular in Israel — nearly 40% of yes’ subscribers own them.)
With the new yesGO service, customers can stream (but not download) content at 720P, with full trick play support (rewind/fast forward) as well as preservation of state (resume on one screen where you left off on another.)