the cisco supplement
The network-enabled cloud must be able to incorporate content from all possible sources into a unified experience. This includes broadcast TV, on-demand libraries, user-generated content, and online aggregators, originating within the service provider’s network footprint and beyond. The system must be able to navigate complex content authorisation and licensing decisions for this diverse content on a massive scale, and publish content on both hosted and third-party content delivery networks (CDNs). • Advanced transcoding: the consumer cloud system must draw on sophisticated network intelligence to deliver content with the best possible quality, adapted to the specific device on which it will be viewed. That means building intelligence into the CDN as well as the residential gateway to recognize characteristics such as device type, screen size, and presentation capabilities (for example, recognizing whether the device supports Flash or requires another format or streaming technology). The system should also be able to adapt the video stream to account for varying network speeds and conditions in a way that is transparent to the user. • Multicast-to-unicast conversion: Today’s video distribution architecture is evolving from traditional broadcast and multicast to more unicast consumption, especially on unmanaged consumer devices in the home. Intelligent residential gateways should bridge the gap between the multicast and unicast domains, and transparently deliver a quality experience, regardless of how the video stream originated. Operators should be able to deliver good quality over best-effort unmanaged networks, better over high-quality unmanaged networks, and best over managed networks. • Network positioning intelligence: Assuring a high QoE also means delivering content as efficiently as possible to prevent bottlenecks and network congestion. To accomplish this, the cloud video system should be able to draw on real-time intelligence about the network and the applications running on it, and make intelligent decisions to best locate and deliver the nearest instance of the requested content or service. • Efficient caching and delivery: The consumer cloud system should also have the ability to preposition and cache content intelligently and
Service providers are uniquely positioned to bring diverse entertainment services to any screen, in the smartest and most efficient way, with the highest possible quality.
dynamically, based on real-world usage patterns. It should be able to cache content, as well as transcoding and delivery intelligence, throughout the network-enabled cloud, from a sophisticated CDN all the way to the consumer’s home gateway. • Command and control: At the core of all of these services, service providers need a next-generation command and control infrastructure designed for the network-enabled cloud. Unlike the infrastructure in traditional video systems, this infrastructure needs to be open, standards-based, and modular to help operators to keep pace with nimble competitors, while allowing them to effectively manage their unique resources. Command and control capabilities must also scale from today’s model, designed to support hundreds of thousands of regional network-connected customer premises equipment (CPE) devices, to national-scale systems that can support tens of millions of IP-enabled endpoints, including both those directly managed by the service provider and those that are not. • Virtualisation: To support the rollout of consumer cloud services on a massive scale, service providers will want these capabilities to be able to operate in a virtualized format. It is not enough, however, to virtualize only the data center. To deliver the full consumer cloud vision, service providers should be able to add virtual routing and traffic management capabilities, video transcoding and processing capabilities, and other functions as needed, in response to real-time demand. This will provide unprecedented service velocity to design, roll out, and monetize new services. Clearly, all of these consumer cloud
capabilities are closely interlinked. Together, they create an intelligent real-time decision-making capacity that makes the “anywhere, anytime, any device” consumer cloud vision possible. And because this capacity depends on sophisticated intelligence that only the service network can provide, it underscores the central role of the intelligent service provider network in delivering the consumer cloud vision.
Addressing Business Challenges
Of course, technology is only one side of the equation. The consumer cloud also presents difficult business issues that must be addressed.
4 l ibe l cisco supplement 2011 l www.ibeweb.com
• How can operators navigate the complex contracts, licensing arrange- ments, and content partnerships necessary to deliver a cloud-based service over multiple screens? • How can operators contend with the constant proliferation of new consumer devices and formats in the marketplace? • How can service providers build a network and cloud infrastructure that provides long-term investment protection, and can adapt to support changing business models? • How should service providers determine which standards and platforms (such as Keychest, Ultraviolet, Apple iOS, or Windows Mobile) to support? • Fundamentally, how can service providers shift from subscription-based services to a more flexible, transaction-oriented cloud model? The solution to all of these issues is
maintaining an open, flexible platform for the consumer cloud. By employing an open technology platform, service providers can strike the right balance between embracing the successful cloud ecosystems that are innovating in this market, while working toward universal industry standards as technologies mature. Ultimately, this network-enabled cloud model will allow operators to support the broadest range of devices, standards, and business models, and continually respond to changing requirements and opportunities.
The consumer cloud is coming. Any content or service, anywhere, on any device, is no longer science fiction - it is soon to be fact. But while standalone hosted cloud offerings can offer some of these capabilities, they cannot deliver the full consumer cloud vision on their own. Service providers are uniquely
positioned to bring diverse entertainment services to any screen, in the smartest and most efficient way, with the highest possible quality. Network intelligence will give service providers a viable cloud-based command and control capability, and the billing, management, and content partnership infrastructure necessary to deliver comprehensive cloud services to millions of users. The future of consumer
entertainment is just over the horizon. The network-enabled cloud will bring
us there. www.cisco.com
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