If you store files or information online, you’ve probably taken advantage of ‘the cloud’. Cloud computing is a growing industry that allows businesses and individuals to store data on the internet and access it anywhere. But the cloud isn’t just useful for sharing files and getting more storage. Organisations from every sector have been using the technology to bring down the cost of doing business and speed up operations. And now the benefits of the cloud are coming to TV security.
As video content continues to expand across more devices, pay-TV providers are evolving the way they operate. With more complex operational requirements than ever before, cloud computing – with its benefits of affordable scale, speed and collaboration – is becoming an increasingly attractive option in the TV business.
Cloud and Pay-TV: A Match Made in Heaven
Over the past decade, cloud technology has transformed the way businesses operate, enabling them to increase efficiency, lower costs and accelerate innovation. Between 2014 and 2017, global spending on cloud technologies is predicted to rise 35%, from $174.2 billion to $235.1 billion, according to IHS Infonetics.
Pay-TV providers are facing many of the same challenges as other industries. In today’s fast-paced entertainment industry, viewers have more options than ever before. This makes efficiency and agility key when competing for the attention of the connected consumer. The dynamic nature of cloud technology makes it perfect for the fast-moving world of television. As the quantity of content, range of applications and volume of usage expands, pay-TV providers need to be able to minimise the cost of scaling their resources. The combination of cloud and virtualisation technology reduces the need to incur the repeated cost of maintaining and replacing hardware, enabling operators to optimise costs and provide a more adaptive service.
The trend for pay-TV providers to increasingly manage their OTT multiscreen operations with software-based video processing and management platforms – instead of traditional hardware solutions – makes the cloud an excellent way to reduce capital and operating expenditure without sacrificing quality.
Security: Keeping TV under Lock and Key
Today, we not only watch content on TV but also on tablets, smartphones and game consoles. The challenges of device fragmentation, alongside increasingly stringent security requirements for 4K UHD content, make cloud technology key to managing content protection. The combination of increasing long-form IP-delivered video, and the rising variations in devices (and hardware architecture) used to watch it, is driving up operational costs and making it harder for content distributors to protect content across every device.
The most efficient approach, when it comes to securing multiscreen content, is to consolidate broadcast conditional access security (CAS) and OTT digital rights management (DRM). This makes it simpler to protect every device and type of video content – whether live or on-demand. The use of a single management console also enables operations teams to set connection parameters, implement key distribution and renewal policies, add new devices to an ecosystem and perform all the operations needed in a unified security system.
No one would argue that the world of cloud is a complex environment. While the cloud is a more dynamic and flexible way to kickstart the virtualisation process – and offers the best efficiency gains – the cloud will fundamentally change how content is delivered. That’s why in 2012, 13 leading telecommunications companies devised the Industry Specifications Group for NFV (NFV ISG) and its Network Function Virtualization initiative to help service providers adapt to virtualisation. At the same time, ETSI has been building a set of specifications which suppliers can follow to ensure industry-wide interoperability of the virtualised network functions architecture.
And the potential financial benefits are impressive. The IHS unit projects that, between 2014 and 2019, revenue from outsourced services for NFV projects will grow at a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of 71%.
So how can pay-TV providers make the leap into cloud security? When adopting a cloud-based security management system, the first operations that pay-TV providers should move to the cloud are connected-device security and DRM management. This gives the business all the benefits of cloud efficiency while leveraging legacy CAS facilities further into their life cycles.
With the hybrid cloud, companies can use public cloud resources as an extension of their private cloud to upscale their operations while avoiding the added cost of an in-house data centre. This hybrid model also gives providers an efficient way to accommodate spikes in data. For example, when streaming live events over the internet, providers can temporarily utilise the capacity of the public cloud – enabling distributors to access resources at a pace that suits their needs.
One platform which works in both the private and public cloud is the NAGRA anyCAST Security Services Platform. This consolidated content protection platform is helping pay-TV providers meet CAS and DRM security requirements and provides comprehensive security support for the cloud services that broadcast and OTT providers are increasingly turning to as their needs evolve.
The Forecast: Cloudy with a Chance for Change
Like in a British summer, the cloud’s progress seems unstoppable. In the blink of an eye, the cloud has transformed the structure of the pay-TV business to completely reshape service providers’ security management strategies: from speed of execution to operational resources. The cloud’s scalability, flexibility and ubiquity helps providers manage the pressures that come with changing levels of demand, eradicates barriers to growth and makes it possible for providers to deliver new capabilities as fast as consumers demand them.
Christopher Schouten is Director Product Marketing, Nagra