Skip to main content

The Illuminator

MARCH 2021 EDITION

A monthly look into communications & media industry trends, news, and updates from the Lumine ecosystem. This month, we also hear from Velocix’s VP of Development & Technology, Craig Sinasac, on the journey into the video tech space.

Spotlight

Bursting to the cloud: Velocix’s journey in the video tech space

If you are like me, when the workday is over you like to sit down and relax in front of the TV. These days, that often means watching a video program that is streamed over the internet, whether that is watching a show using your pay-TV provider’s new multi-screen video service or enjoying a movie on Netflix, Disney+, or Amazon Prime TV. In fact, the past year has been a big one for video streaming, with millions of people tuning in to pass the time while under COVID-19 quarantines. This resulted in a whopping 30%-50% growth in stream demand in 2020 versus 2019. Even with the lock-downs now being lifted, consumer interest in streaming video has never been higher.

In the face of growing demand for video streams, many of the world’s leading video service operators have reached out to Velocix to discuss how they can more flexibly and cost-effectively scale-out their content delivery platforms. We have seen a swift rise in the number of operators interested in migrating toward cloud-native software-as-a-service (SaaS) solutions. If you are not familiar with Velocix, we are a Lumine Group company and market-leading provider of video streaming and advertising software. We supply the foundational software technology telecommunications providers, cable TV operators and broadcasters use to deliver and monetize their video streaming services.

In response to our customer‘s interest in SaaS and cloud technology, Velocix has embarked on an effort to transition all of its carrier-focused video applications to infrastructure agnostic cloud-native designs. Historically, Velocix’s products have been deployed within video service operators own private networks, as this is typically the most cost-effective way to deliver the massive amounts of data required to support high definition video streams. However, beyond saving money, today’s video service operators also see value in improving their flexibility and reducing their time-to-market.

Cloud-native software designs are key to providing operators with a greater degree of control over their businesses. For example, if being first to market is the primary objective, it may be quicker to launch new services using public cloud infrastructure which is pre-provisioned and ready to go, versus on-premises hardware that has to be purchased, racked, wired, and integrated. Alternatively, operators may simply be looking to find the optimal balance between cost, service quality, and flexibility. In this case, they may elect to use a combination of public cloud and on-premises infrastructure, relying on Velocix’s software to intelligently manage the workload across these environments. In summary, cloud-native architectures give operators more freedom to react and respond to emerging market needs and competitive conditions.

To progress our solutions toward the cloud, Velocix identified a core set of technologies that would form the basis of our software evolution. We started by moving each of our applications toward elastically scalable microservices-based architectures, using containers instead of virtual machines to improve performance, portability, and manageability. This enabled our applications to run across a wide array of deployment environments, including on-premises hardware, private or public cloud infrastructure, or edge computing environments.

Microservices architectures break down monolithic applications into a lightweight, loosely coupled services that can be more easily scaled in response to changing workloads.

To manage these containers, we selected Kubernetes, an open-source orchestration platform that automates the processes involved in deploying, managing, and scaling micro-service applications. It also monitors software health and administers self-healing when required to keep services running at peak performance.

With our micro-services running in containers, the next step was to make these containers discoverable, so they could work together, and to find ways to reduce configuration complexity. Rancher is one of the solutions we chose to simplify the operational and security challenges of managing multiple Kubernetes clusters across different infrastructure environments. With Rancher, we can provision infrastructure, define new clusters, and manage them across multiple cloud or on-premises deployments using a common framework. In combination with another software tool called Helm, we can easily deploy video applications at scale around the globe.

Velocix recently launched a new multi-tenant cloud-native SaaS solution called Cloud VRM to power network-based time-shifted video applications.

While there are many more tools and software applications that Velocix employs, and while our journey to the cloud is still in progress, we have learned a lot along the way and achieved several new milestones. Notably, we launched our first SaaS product in late 2020 and a second product just weeks ago. Cloud VPP, our first cloud-native product, is a dynamic ad insertion solution focused on generating more ad revenue by personalizing individual video streams. Our second product, Cloud VRM, is a multi-tenant video recording management platform that powers cloud DVR and other time-shifted TV services. Both of these applications provide video service providers with the flexibility and performance they need to compete more effectively in a dynamic marketplace. With our newest technologies bursting to the cloud, we are more energized than ever about the future and looking forward to an exciting year as we help our customers achieve their loftiest goals.

Trend Updates

Factors Driving Customer Experience (CX) Transformation for Communications Service Providers (CSPs)

IT applications that support CX are transitioning to cloud-native ways of working. More than 80% of CSPs plan to move at least half of their CX IT estate to the cloud within three years. This trend reveals that most CSPs’ typically focus on increasing speed to market, being able to auto-scale CX capabilities, and implementing flexible commercial models. A common goal across all CSP’s is to deliver the best possible CX at the lowest cost.

The pandemic has forced many CSPs to rethink their customer-engagement strategy and has accelerated trends in CX digitalization.

What are the steps that CSPs have taken to be successful with CX transformation?

Replace legacy systems of engagement with a microservices based digital experience layer. This will consist of marketing content, personalization, and mobile optimization to support all customer-facing channels.

Focus on cultural transformation which is potentially reflected in investments to restructure organizations, adopt customer-centric team structures, and reskill teams.

Reduce organizational silos, and dependence on single vendors of monolithic applications.

Consolidate systems and implement a well-defined program to shed legacy systems and costs. Cloud-native technology has proved easier, more efficient, less expensive, and more agile.

Work with expert partners that bring domain-specific expertise, knowledge of CSPs’ IT environments and business processes, and a willingness to engage with a large network of partners.

The industry is focusing on committing to customer relationships, transforming culturally, as well as transitioning the IT landscape to cloud-native architecture.

Read more from the source


Significance of the API Economy and Open Systems

The global pandemic accelerated the drive to digital for countless companies as they lost the chance to interact personally with customers, employees, and suppliers. Among the beneficiaries of this shift are companies that create software for enterprise users of telco networks.

Twilio, one of the leaders in this industry, reported a 55% year-on-year revenue increase for 2020. Twilio’s success can be attributed to the fact that it is an API driven platform. The API economy and open systems are likely to witness growth due to the value addition provided to CSPs.

CSPs face the challenge of navigating a complex network with varying standards and protocols. In order to remain competitive in this context, telcos must use APIs and open standards to increase their agility and the efficiency with which they adapt to digital transformation. APIs greatly simplify the process of delivering services via mobile networks and the web. The ability to outsource common software to third parties has created opportunities for companies providing these services and has also enabled enterprises going through digital transformation to take advantage of this capability. The solutions being built today will be the standard for digital engagement in the future.

Telecom service providers have used standards and protocols to communicate with each other for the longest time. To operate a complex telecom network, CSP’s need a certain degree of standardization to enable flexible and interoperable systems and to avoid costly vendor lock-ins. In order to deal with the issue of complexity in telco networks and to expedite industry innovation, initiatives such as the Catalyst project with TMForum are joined by vendors and CSPs. These are proof-of-concept projects bringing together large and small companies to create innovate solutions to common challenges and standards to ensure scalability and reduced costs and risk.

Who will build these solutions? Both service providers and software developers will likely bring meaningful solutions to market. TMForum, CableLabs and Broadband Forum are ensuring that CSP’s are not locked in and have flexibility. CableLabs is an organisation that develops standards and specifications for cable companies. This brings to the fore that with standards convergence, this ecosystem is going to provide more value to CSPs.

Lumine businesses are putting the above solutions into practice. Incognito recently worked with BT, Orange, and TIM to create business continuity solutions for electric vehicle (EV) charging infrastructure businesses. This seeks enable CSPs to monetise the complex ecosystem comprising multiple partners and business processes in the EV charging market.

Read more from the source


Connectivity-as-a-Service

While cloud providers are delivering the experiences customers want and are willing to pay for, CSP’s are struggling to tap into revenue growth opportunities, particularly in the enterprise market. CSPs have been trying to figure out how to emulate their cloud counterparts. Connectivity-as-a-service (CaaS) could be the answer.

Broadly, CaaS is the delivery of connectivity solutions to meet specific demands of different applications and users. It involves capturing specific customers requirements, and enables customer self-service and control. In addition, CaaS is easy to use and has a strong focus on enterprises.

CSPs see CaaS as a way to modernize and automate the customer engagement process. Customers should be able to simply express their intent, or business needs, and have the network meet those needs. The idea behind CaaS is to reduce the complexity of buying connectivity services by simplifying the ordering process and hiding from customers the underlying capabilities used to deliver services.

CaaS could help ease the process of ordering, provisioning and charging for connectivity and value-added services such as security, guaranteed bandwidth, and priority routing. Operators believe that enterprises will pay for these services, which would inturn increase CSP revenue and shareholder value.

To facilitate the ease of delivery, the concept of CaaS must be understood and recognized by enterprises and companies that may want to leverage it as part of their own services. If CaaS is to become the de facto method for ordering and fulfilling requests for connectivity, it also will have to scale, which requires that CSPs transform their networks and IT operations.

CSPs have an opportunity to turn CaaS into a powerful tool for targeting enterprises, since the concept has not yet been fully defined or understood. However, they will have to collaborate with partners to make it happen. This would include working together to adopt the necessary standards and best practices to enable CaaS, as well as partner to deliver the capabilities enterprises want.

CaaS focuses on the customer. Implementing CaaS will allow companies to design the kind of connectivity they need and manage it dynamically from their own portals. Delivering this kind of flexibility will help CSPs demonstrate their value and relevance in providing complex connectivity-enabled solutions.

CSPs are of the opinion that the biggest obstacle to delivering CaaS is that they are already pursuing many complex transformation projects. However, CSPs should not view CaaS as another project. Rather, it will be the result of many ongoing digital transformation efforts.

Enterprise customers are most likely to pay a premium for features such as privacy, security, and identity along with connectivity. CSPs need to upgrade their data governance capabilities not only to make their customers feel safe, but also to be able to confidently upsell security services on top of connectivity and drive new revenue.

Read more from the source

Industry News

Rogers buys Shaw in $26bn deal

Canadian telcos Rogers Communications and Shaw Communications have reached an agreement for Rogers to acquire Shaw in a transaction valued at approximately $26 billion.

The combined entity will have the scale, assets and capabilities needed to deliver broadband and network investments in wireline and wireless. The entity will also focus on innovation and growth in new telecommunications services, which would facilitate a greater choice for Canadian consumers and businesses.

As part of the transaction, the combined company will invest $2.5 billion in 5G networks over the next five years across Western Canada, which will enhance competitiveness, offer consumers and businesses more choice and improved services, help close the digital divide between urban and rural communities, and deliver significant long-term benefits for businesses and consumers.

So what? The combined spectrum holdings and enhanced capacity, will generate more choice and competition for businesses and consumers, as well as contribute towards realising the benefits of next generation networks for Canadians and Canada’s productivity.

This merger will accelerate the delivery of critical 5G service across Western Canada, from rural areas to dense cities, more quickly than either company could achieve on its own. The expertise and assets of both companies would come together. Specifically, Shaw has existing cable, fibre, and wireless networks and Rogers has a robust national wireless network and extensive 5G capabilities.

This mega deal is not isolated. Altice USA recently made a revised and enhanced bid to purchase Cogeco, and in addition, the UK has provisionally cleared the merger of Virgin Media and O2. This deal will give rise to strong competition in the telecom market between the merged entity and BT.

Learn more here


Ericsson launches Network Slicing Optimisation Tool

Ericsson launched 5G Core Policy Studio, a software designed to help CSPs make the most of the capabilities offered by network slicing.

Network slicing is to be able to use virtual networks to split a single network connection into multiple distinct virtual connections. This facilitates splitting different amounts of resources to different types of traffic.

The software will help adapt service performance depending on various conditions such as the type of subscription, time of day, service area or device location. This will enable telecom operators to monetize 4G and 5G services by accelerating innovation and adjusting network service characteristics. Ericsson also reckons this software can save CSPs up to 70% of their policy configuration operational expenditures.

So what? The software tool by Ericsson, is designed to be a contemporary take on OSS/BSS since it allows ease of control of 4G and 5G service policies. Essentially, the tool will enable CSPs to provide customised services through network slicing, as well as manage the resulting billing arrangement. This software aims to make networks smarter and enable smart businesses. This is key to allow CSPs to offer tailored connectivity services to customers and enterprises.

Learn more here


Does bundling broadband services create stickiness?

Consumers subscribing to a bundle of telecoms services are significantly less likely to churn than those with a standalone broadband service. However, we also see that customers switching from one bundle to another are usually looking for a deal on price.

According to a survey conducted by the Commission for Communications Regulation in Ireland, only 20% of customers with bundles who are either out of contract or have a contract due to expire within 12 months said they were very likely or quite likely to move to another provider. By comparison, 30% of standalone broadband customers in the same position also indicated a likelihood of switching.

Satisfaction in Ireland is reasonably high, with only single-digital percentages of customers expressing dissatisfaction with billing, contracts, prices, reliability and overall customer experience. The reasons for dissatisfaction were primarily attributed to customer service quality, as well as speeds received from the service.

So what? Telecom operators are of the view that signing up customers to bundled services can seem like the holy grail. However, it is worth noting that there is still some price sensitivity amongst customers.

  • 37% of customers currently signed up to bundles, had moved from a bundled service with a different supplier previously
  • Of those customers making the switch, just over a quarter added a service to their bundle when they moved. Specifically, TV services were by far the most popular choice
  • 45% of customers reported a lower package price as a result of the switch
  • Only 19% of customers paid more for their bundled service on switching to a different supplier

These results suggest that operators would benefit by tracking their average revenue per user.

Learn more here

Lumine Business News

Lumine Ecosystem Highlight: Collab x WDS Webinar

On April 20, two Lumine businesses, Collab and WDS, will host a webinar to discuss the benefits that Knowledge Bots propel for customer service. Most companies face the challenge of: how can we feed the bot the knowledge it needs to reply to customers? How can we use the knowledge to boost efficiency in contact centers? This webinar will disclose why and how to enable Knowledge as a Service in your contact center.

Register here to save your seat.

Company logo

Velocix Customer Win

Velocix has announced that Entel, the largest telecommunications company in Chile, has launched Velocix’s IP CDN, origin server and video recording management software to support the country’s newest OTT streaming service, which uses the first Android TV Operator Tier Box in the country.

Marketed as Entel TV, the new service can be accessed by anyone in the Chilean market that has a fixed or mobile broadband connection. Velocix sees exceptional market opportunities for video service providers like Entel in Latin America.

Learn more here

Company logo

NetAdmin Customer Win

NetAdmin, announced that Swish Fibre has selected Netadmin to help them automate the order and provisioning processes. Swish Fibre is a full-fibre broadband provider and were looking for a comprehensive OSS/BSS solution which would enable them to integrate with other key systems to enable their ‘zero-touch’ customer onboarding and provisioning goal.

The selection of Netadmin by Swish enabled them to leverage the many existing functions that are out of the box whilst also being able to adapt the solution to meet their specific needs.

Learn more here

Company logo

Follow us on LinkedIn