I was recently talking to an industry colleague about how incredibly focused we are, as a company, on the video marketplace. I meant it, so I was surprised to see the eyebrow-spiked reaction and their response: “How can you say that, when you just unloaded your CPE including set-top boxes, modems, etc.?”
It kind of floored me, because to me it was obvious. But I realize this is a question many may be asking. My response is this: The decision to sell our set-top, gateway, and overall CPE line to Technicolor wasn’t a separation from video. It was Cisco recognizing that for that part of our business to be at its healthiest and most productive, it was better off in an environment focused on building CPE hardware at scale – which is what Technicolor does.
Cisco is laser focused on three core tenets: security, virtualization, and cloud. These tenets are foundational to our Service Provider Video business because that’s what customers want.
Let’s start with tenet #1: Security. Security has been fundamental to the video business from the very beginning. Pay TV providers of all types purchase programs from content owners, and they’re contractually bound to make sure those programs don’t get misappropriated. For a few decades, Pay TV addressed this issue via the set-top box, which existed for one very simple purpose: to keep programming secure.
These days, securing video signals is a much more complex feat. Gone are the days of content traveling down closed and managed pipelines to be decoded in STBs directly attached to the customers’ TVs. Data centers in the cloud, open delivery networks, and myriad consumer viewing devices are the new reality. Ensuring content protection end-to-end while keeping costs at bay and maintaining a good user experience is the name of the game. And with a unique combination of core expertise in both network and video security, you can bet Cisco is well equipped to help service providers succeed in this transition.
Security at large – and video service security specifically – is a huge part of who we are, as a company. We recently announced our continued work with Sky, Europe’s leading entertainment company with more than 21 million customers, for middleware, conditional access and digital rights management (DRM) solutions to support Sky’s expansion of products and services to an even wider audience. These days both our Conditional Access and DRM solutions are becoming virtualized to secure video content, across networks and devices, from a unified cloud environment.
This leads to tenet #2: virtualization. At IBC this week, among the technologies we’ll highlight is the complete virtualization and cloud orchestration of the video headend. What’s new is the extension of our Virtualized Video Processing (V2P) platform with the virtualization of our flagship and widely deployed Digital Content Manager (DCM). This is a big deal for the industry, because now video processing for live TV content to the main screen can be more simply and cost-effectively run on a cloud-based infrastructure, instead of multiple pieces of optimized hardware running dedicated software applications.
Think about what this means. Walking into a Pay TV headend or broadcast studio operation used to invariably involve complimenting the chief tech on the tidiness of all the wires, connecting ad inserters and encoders, muxes, play-out servers and combiners. Adding a channel meant ordering, racking, stacking, wiring, then keeping it all straight — one loose wire could cause pixelization issues, leading to customer complaints.
All of that goes away with our virtual DCM, which takes our industry proven product and delivers the same rich features, broadcast quality and reliability with the simplicity, speed and agility of our open, programmable and cloud-orchestrated V2P platform. The benefit is now our service provider and media customers can quickly turn up and scale new services, securely with minimal impact to their already-tight capital budgets.
Tenet #3 is the cloud. Cisco is unveiling at IBC its new ‘Infinite’ suite of cloud-powered video solutions. This new suite will help service providers, broadcasters and media companies to deliver outstanding TV experiences to multiple screens, utilizing one cloud, on any access network, within the home and on the go.
We are introducing two members of the Infinite family. Both deliver full-featured linear, on-demand and time-shift TV video experiences.
- Infinite Home: to any screen over two-way cable and telco networks.
- Infinite Video: to a variety of consumer electronics devices via unmanaged ‘over-the-top’ (OTT) Internet connections.
Our “Infinite” portfolio cuts the time to test, trial and roll-out new services. We are talking here about activating service enhancements in minutes instead of months and about weekly or more frequent software updates and feature enhancements. This is a real transformation to the way video works. And we are proud to be working with customers like Kabel Deutschland and Eastlink to realize this transformation.
With everything we do, we are trying to help our customers to grow their business, deliver services faster, and reduce costs associated with delivering advanced video entertainment experiences. We are excited to be with customers in Amsterdam this week and demonstrate how we can make things easier and better for them. Come by to see what we mean, and visit us at stand 1.A71 in Hall 1 at the RAI.
Tweet us with your pictures, questions or comments at @CiscoSPVideo.