The carbon cost of streaming, industrialized AI, hybrid cloud computing and unceasing piracy — these are the issues which CTOs of every broadcaster and streamer are grappling with, according to Viaccess Orca.
VO’s own CTO, Alain Nochimowski, identifies in a blog post the key technology trends that should be firmly on the roadmap of any video service provider.
Chief among them is the rise of “green streaming” and the importance of being able to measure carbon footprints for different components of the video chain.
“That’s critical if we ever want to navigate the complex operational trade-offs towards ‘greener streaming,’” says Nochimowski.
For example, for an equivalent perceived quality-of-experience, will the expected gain in network bandwidth usage (and related reduction in energy consumption) associated with next generation codecs be sufficient to offset the increase in energy consumption due to more CPU-intensive compression techniques (compared to legacy codecs)?
Other related and hard to answer questions include: How to assess the impact of different architecture designs destined to run in data centers? Will companies, perhaps even consumers, be willing to pay extra to reach carbon neutral? Or will they perhaps prefer to compromise on their Quality of Experience in order to save some carbon emissions?
“Ultimately, there is the question of choice. We need to be able to assess the data across the whole chain so that we can present the option of an optimal route for our customers.”
There’s been a lot of hoopla about the overwhelming drive to public cloud, but the reality is that solutions will be at best hybrid for some years to come. Workflows will typically be a composite of on-premises equipment and possibly (sometimes several different) cloud provider(s).
“The key to future success is how we manage services that are deployed across these multiple platforms and orchestrate or scale them in an efficient and automatic manner,” says Nochimowski. “Both the business approach and the technology approach have to be optimized to fit this hybrid future.”
VO also points to the advent of MLOps. If you’ve not come across that acronym then be prepared to hear it more often.
Machine Learning Operations is “industrialized AI” and its being rolled out to unlock the full value of TV data monetization.
Deloitte calculates that it’s a market worth $4 billion by 2025. VO sees it accelerating even further the deployment of machine learning in the industry, “effectively doing for ML what the implementation of DevOps did for software development.”
READ MORE: MLOps: Industrialized AI (Deloitte)
Says Nochimowski, “Experience proves that applying MLOps best practices to the specific context of a TV platform production environment involves much operational trade-offs. Navigating these architectural, cost or performance trade-offs requires a great deal of familiarity with the specifics of TV data and a deep understanding of the various deployment (sometimes regulatory) constraints.”
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The fourth tech trend reckoned to be keeping CTOs on their toes is also AI-related, but this time around AI-generated media with all the inherent risks of political misinformation attacks and deepfakes that entails.
“For content service providers, there’s no doubt the age of AI-enhanced media will bring about new threats as well as new opportunities,” VO warns.
Keeping Up With the Video Pirates
Content security is of course Viaccess Orca’s main business, and the company points out that instead of going away, piracy is now easier than at any other time. In part that’s because of the sheer volume of content and number of access points which hackers could attack.
In the first nine months of 2021, there were 132 billion visits to pirate sites worldwide, up 16% on the same period in 2020, according to Torrentfreak. Sixty-seven billion of these visits were related to TV piracy, making it roughly 50% of all pirate site traffic.
Alongside this, the actual business of being a pirate has become “modular.”
“Pirates can simply chain easily located software tools and techniques together, delve into some specialist but still public message boards, and eventually they will come up with a combination that works,” says Pierre-Alexandre Bidard, VP Partnerships and Security Products Management at VO in another blog post.
The consequence of this is that when one platform is breached in any manner somewhere in the world, before you know it, that same technique is being used to create another breach in another service elsewhere.
“Piracy is interconnected and international, and fighting it is a constant battle that is only going to get more difficult, but also more necessary, as the year moves on.”
VO reckons broadcasters have around 15 minutes to take down a hijacked stream if you want to be able to move effectively against pirates.
“Pirates are fast. To fight them effectively you have to be faster,” he says.
Weapons of defense include dynamic watermarking and AI which the monitoring of huge amount of data whether broadcast or streamed, in real time, and quickly detect events that are anomalies.
But that’s not enough. Any security specialist will argue that having multiple layers of action and deterrent is the only way to effectively counter the moving target of piracy.
“We cannot talk in too much detail about our latest anti-piracy initiatives as we are in a constant arms race with the pirates,” says Bidard. “We develop a method to stop piracy, they find a way to circumvent it; they find a new way to force a breach, we find a way to plug the gap. That way we limit, sometimes dramatically, the losses that our customers incur in terms of lost revenue.”