Why cloud is the key to growth in IPTV
The value of the IPTV market is set to double over the next five years. Such growth, driven by a shift from traditional cable and satellite delivery, will put increasing pressure on existing networks’ infrastructure, to the point where those that don’t adapt could fail to see that growth reflected in their subscriber numbers or, in turn, their bottom line.
The traditional response to an opportunity like this would be to make significant investments in owned infrastructure, which would quickly increase capacity, but at the cost of flexibility. That’s why smarter providers are looking elsewhere: to the cloud.
“All of our products can be deployed to the cloud, just as easily as they can on-site,” explains Igor Rumyanstev, SmartLabs’ CTO and co-founder. “They are completely ready for virtualisation, too, which delivers one very significant benefit: cost savings.”
The financial pinch point in traditional on-premises hardware, says Igor, is the level of ongoing overheads. Engineers need to be retained – and paid – even if there is nothing for them to do. With cloud, that is not the case.
“Support is the responsibility of an external provider,” Igor adds, “and it is covered in full by a predictable on-going service payment.”
Moreover, a cloud-based service is easy to scale. Additional data centres can be brought online when required, without significant investment in supplementary infrastructure and, if necessary, they can be shut down at short notice, without incurring penalties or being left with hardware that is no longer any use. This model is a good fit for more agile businesses, as it helps them respond to changing audience profiles.
“If a provider is looking to attract customers in London, New York and Canberra, deploying to cloud means it can site infrastructure close to those centres. It reduces bandwidth and latency, which in turn cuts costs and makes the network more responsive,” Igor continues.
Cloud customers are changing
To date, cloud has been of greatest interest to content houses, which have a back catalogue to exploit but aren’t burdened with a significant number of set top boxes installed in customers’ homes. While this latter point counts in their favour, since there is no temptation to sweat existing inventory before deploying new technologies, they also find themselves at a disadvantage, as they don’t have existing infrastructure they can scale. However, an IPTV service deployed to the cloud can give them all the benefits of a platform that would have taken years to scale in the physical world, without the associated research, development and investment lag. The result: they can go head to head with established competitors from day one.
It’s no surprise that network providers are looking to offload supplementary hardware and, increasingly, are talking to SmartLabs as a migration partner. SmartLabs’ experience of managing platform transitions, while ensuring ongoing compatibility with legacy hardware, is an attractive proposition for existing providers. So, too, is its record of producing superior user interfaces that bring an immediate benefit to subscribers.
“Adopting cloud gives network providers more certainty and increased predictability,” Igor says. “We are already being asked to provide and delivering services that wouldn’t, traditionally, be within our remit, like helping them build their network, manage backup and restore, upgrading their operating system and so on.”
Costs and benefits
Igor acknowledges that renting cloud resources on top of deploying software and content costs “a little extra” but the ongoing savings can be significant. And that’s not the only benefit. SmartLabs’ turnkey solution integrates all of the components required to build an IPTV service.
“Once operators have moved to the cloud, particularly if it is managed by SmartLabs, they have a single point of contact for every aspect of service provision. That frees them to focus on sourcing engaging content and providing the best possible customer experience, using services like SmartTUBE, to grow their subscriber base.”At that point, they will be one of the many providers reaping the benefits of the growth the market is set to experience over the next five years.