A software-centric media platform offers maximum video processing flexibility. Image Vantrix
The massive growth of multiscreen video and changing consumption habits are forcing video service providers to rethink their media processing infrastructures. Traditional fixed-function hardware and appliances no longer provide the flexibility and scalability required for a dynamic, complex and increasingly competitive video landscape. This article outlines eight must have technologies for next-generation video processing solutions.
Taken together, the solutions enable the rapid roll out of innovate live-to-VoD, live-streaming and over-the-top services that were either cost prohibitive-or not technically feasible with traditional video processing infrastructures.
1. Software-defined solution
The decoupling of software from hardware is a must have characteristic of next-generation video processing solutions, giving video service providers the agility they need to rapidly adapt to changing market dynamics. This strategic approach closely allies with the IT trend for both software-defined networking (SDN) and network functions virtualization (NFV). No longer tied to proprietary fixed-function (ASIC-based) hardware, operators can take advantage of Moore’s law to realize dramatic CAPEX / OPEX savings as the performance/price ratio of COTS hardware improves over time.
- Benefits of SDN solutions:
CAPEX / OPEX is reduced and business agility increases New chipset capabilities can be quickly leveraged via software stack New codecs, standards and protocols can be implemented without costly rip-and-replace Complements SDN / NFV strategy
2. Virtualized architecture
The ability to virtualize resources goes hand in hand with the decoupling of hardware and software. Next-generation video processing solutions have a virtualized architecture that enables VSPs to efficiently scale and flex their operations. With this strategic approach providers can cope with daily fluctuations in demand, and have the compute flexibility to rapidly roll out new services as user consumption habits and market dynamics change.
A virtualized system affords many features that hardware-based solutions cannot provide--not the least of which is rapid reconfiguration to match loads. Click to enlarge. Image: Vantrix
- Benefits of a virtualized architecture
Get flexible pool of media processing resources to allocate as needed centralized, streamlined resource management reduces OPEX rapid and cost-effective scalability is achieved by leveraging cloud resources 3. Virtualized GPU Traditionally tapping directly into the power of graphic chip sets delivered greater speed and lower power consumption than software codecs, but at a cost—less flexibility. Next-generation video processing solutions interface with the fixed-function aspects of Intel HD GPUs via a software layer. This approach enables the power of the GPU to be virtualized and made available as a flexible resource. In addition, updates to codecs can be easily made in software, extending the life of the GPU and improving ROI.
- Benefits of a virtualized GPU
GPU power becomes a flexible virtual resource available to all media processing applications Tap into power of the GPU without limiting flexibility Faster media processing with less power consumption reduces OPEX
4. Modular Components
In today’s dynamic video landscape, it’s key that VSPs have a flexible video processing architecture that can grow and adapt to changing business needs. Next-generation solutions are modular in nature, enabling VSPs to drop the pieces they need into existing workflows, and build out their infrastructure over time. Solutions are available for VOD and live transcoding, IP Conversion , Bandwidth optimization, Encryption, QoE, Analytics, Caching, ABR and packaging and more
5. Pluggable transcoding pipeline
Next-generation video processing solutions open up transcoding pipelines to third-party plugins. By having direct access to video streams, plugins such as perceptual pre-filtering, can be used to reduce bandwidth without sacrificing viewing quality. This is in stark contrast to closed ‘black box’ transcoding workflows, where no opportunity exists to leverage innovative third-party solutions to optimize content.
6. Open APIs
In complex media workflows it is essential that all components are interoperable and extensible. Next-generation solutions have open APIs to ensure ongoing compatibility with service provider and third-party systems such as CDNs, CRM, DRM, Apps Provisioning, Billing, Reporting etc.
7. Ultra-high-density COTS hardware
Ultra-high-density performance on commercial off-the-shelf (COTS) hardware is a must have characteristic of next-generation video processing solutions, enabling VSPs to offer innovative services while reducing CAPEX and OPEX by up to 80% compared to traditional solutions. Massive power in a small footprint means that video processing solutions can be deployed close to the subscriber edge to cost-effectively support a range of live-to-VoD services, such as cloud-based nPVR powered by just-in-time transcoding (JITT). Ultra-high-density solutions on COTS hardware yield impressive results over traditional appliances:
Up to 20X more streams per RU
Up to 80% cost savings per stream
Up to 95% Reduction in footprint
With next-gen video processing, it becomes possible to implement transcoding pipelines to third-party plugins. Such plug-ins make it possible to leverage the benefits of other vendors' solutions. Click to enlarge. Image: Vantrix
8. Flexible COTS hardware deployment options
Next-generation video processing solutions can be deployed on a range of COTS hardware, giving VSPs the flexibility to leverage existing hardware and expand their infrastructure on an as-needed basis. VSPs can choose to implement turnkey appliances, add powerful PCIe accelerator cards to standard servers, or even tap into standard server resources when available in either private or public cloud scenarios.
By adopting next-generation solutions VSPs will be well positioned to win and retain subscribers and reduce CAPEX and OPEX.
Editor's note: Resource for this article from Vantrix. A copy of the ebook is available here.