The cloud is revolutionising video operations, offering operators pooled compute, storage and networking resources. However its full potential is rarely harnessed. A key promise of the cloud in all its forms is that under-used hardware resources are now shared, meaning they can be more efficiently, and more cheaply utilised. To make the most of this benefit it follows that cloud-based software should be as agile and responsive as its virtualised environment.
There are crucial differences between how physical and virtual hardware systems operate. Software designed to sit on dedicated hardware systems will be constrained in what it can achieve in the cloud. This “lifted and shifted” software simply can’t scale as efficiently as a “cloud-native” solution. They lack the ability to tap into traditional cloud characteristics such as elastic scaling, geo-dispersion and advanced process automation.
Microservices (or cloud-native software) are specifically re-architected for life in the cloud. In doing so, they reflect the agile, fluid nature of cloud architecture itself. This approach breaks the software into smaller units that each have a single, discrete responsibility. These smaller components can scale independently of each other and the wider stack. They are modular so can be tested, replaced, upgraded and swapped out easily. It is also much easier to break down workloads using microservices and spread them across the cloud infrastructure, efficiently matching resources more closely to business needs.
This approach is particularly relevant for the TV industry where operators and broadcasters face huge pressure to rapidly respond to consumer demands, updating their services and features regularly. Microservices allow these companies to be super-agile but minimise the risk of investment in bold new innovations. Agility should be all the more valuable for the established TV industry as it aims to compete with digital first providers who have the advantage of being unburdened by legacy technology or practices.
The microservices approach is already proving popular with early adopters. Having chosen a component-based approach to its platform several years ago, Orange is now pushing ahead with a microservices model and already seeing the benefits of upgrading different components more frequently than others. Discovery Communications is another microservices pioneer and champion of the public cloud for broadcast operations. The group is in the midst of an operations transformation that will allow it to focus on core competences like content create and curation. Microservices have helped the company prepare for new distribution opportunities, giving them a competitive edge in a rapidly changing industry. Orange and Discovery are in good company as it is well known that both Netflix and Amazon have architected their applications specifically for the cloud, to great commercial success.
It is still early days for microservices. One obvious market inhibitor is the lack of vendors using a microservices-based architecture. Suppliers need to do much more to support the continuous deployment and DevOps approach required by this new method of software architecting. That being said the adoption of microservices seems somewhat inevitable given its ability to make the TV industry more competitive in relation to digital-native media companies. If you want to operate without limits on creativity, agility, scalability or speed to market, your business needs to be powered by microservices.
If microservices sound relevant for your business, download our free report below which contains original insights and learnings from early-adopters such as Discovery Communications and Orange.