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SMW '18: MediaKind's Mark Russell Talks Microservices
Streaming Media's Tim Siglin interviews MediaKind CTO & Head of Strategy Mark Russell at Streaming Media West 2018.

Learn more about microservices and media technology at Streaming Media's next event.

Read the complete transcript of this interview:

Tim Siglin: Welcome back to Streaming Media West 2018. I'm Tim Siglin, contributing editor with Streaming Media magazine and founding executive director of the not-for-profit HelpMe! Stream. Today I've got a guest from MediaKind. Introduce yourself and then tell us what MediaKind is, because I think people will know the components, but they don't know the name.

Mark Russell: Sure. I've no doubt that that's true. I'm Mark Russell. I am the CTO of MediaKind, the media technology division of Ericsson. Now, we're in the process of spinning those businesses out into an independent company that will launch our brand. We will be fully carved out by the end of the year, and we'll be an independent company.

We have compression media delivery, cloud DVR, and then we'll be called a media platform of TV platforms, so this would be a media first media room area. Compression really on the hardware side more our Tandberg heritage. We acquired Envivio in 2015, and that's really the start of software compression and the foundation of microservices architecture in that layer of the portfolio. And we bought Databricks for both the cloud DVR platform. It is also a very nice layer for an application platform, if you like, for live and bot origins--sort of the next generation in adaptive bitrate delivery.

Tim Siglin: So what's the end goal with MediaKind? Obviously, spinning out of Ericsson allows you to focus just on the media portion of this, but…

Mark Russell:  The goal here really is to build one of the largest players in the media technology space, it's really focused on media technology exclusively, since it does give us a chance to do that, which we're very excited about, by the way. It's a very exciting proposition to be, to be part of, and I think, if we were to think about our end goal, I mean, it's the reason I'm here. I'd have to say, you know, we come from a heritage of pretty classic broadcast in pay TV, and really have a lot of experience in that mold, but my goodness, you look around and, you know, pay TV is becoming streaming TV and streaming TV is going everywhere, and you know broadcaster's are going direct to consumer and we're streaming media now.

Tim Siglin: And with IPTV versus OTT it continues to be even more confusing. So would the intent be to create essentially white-label systems that media companies could then use for their own delivery?

Mark Russell: Yes. So, if we think about how we should engage the marketplace today and we make products that are set for a purpose, that’s very classic way to e-build in the service provider or broadcast spaceand support it and do all of those necessary and great things. As we look to the future, we really see a future where the portfolios architected in a way that can be all offered as a service.\

Now, having said that, there will be many potential customers who will want to operate in different modes, so we're quite committed to continuing to solve components and to engage the market the way it wants to be engaged.

Tim Siglin: So, there are some possible hybrid approaches.

Mark Russell: Exactly. We're a vendor, we're not service provider.

Tim Siglin: Sure, that makes sense.

Mark Russell: So, we are committed to both helping our customers get to the future, but also help them with their current investments.

Tim Siglin: Right, no, I understand. It's one of the craziest gifts, that you know, less vertically integrated ...

Mark Russell: There's a mountain of that stuff, and we contributed to that mountain. But there'll be a transition, and I think a company in our position, very well positioned to architect for the future and help bridgeto get there.

Tim Siglin: And not only do you have the background and heritage of broadcast, but with Ericsson itself, the background and heritage of Telco in dealing with microservices before they were even called microservices. So, just a quick question for you. microservices is a really hot topic.

Mark Russell: I did two panels on it today.

Tim Siglin: The last guest I had I asked what he sort of saw microservices as. Can you give me just a brief description of where you all consider microservices? Because there are companies that will say, “I'll take my monolith shove it in a kubernetes container, and call it a microservice,” and that's not really accurate.\

Mark Russell: That's right. I think they’ll find, hat may be the start of the journey but it won't be the end. We see microservices as kind of an ecosystem where you're adopting a new way of engineering your products, you're adopting a different way of operating them, you're adopting a different way of maintaining them over time, and so you don't want to take microservices outside the context of that ecosystem. So it’s continuous delivery, continuous evolution. That is a very important aspect of this, and if you start from that perspective, you very quickly realize that microservices, very simply put, it's a container of value, and you want to have that do as few things as possible.

Tim Siglin: Right. Hence the “micro” part.

Mark Russell: There's no real set definition of what that is, but really the value that everybody gets in terms of flexibility and scalability and all of this sort of stuff, comes from adopting, you know, all of the surrounding parts of the ecosystem, all of the things that make a microservices component live and breathe. I think ecosystems are a great metaphor, because ultimately each of those pieces is reliant on the others to create a much larger service.

Tim Siglin: Mark, thank you very much for your time. This has been Mark Russell with MediaKind. We'll be back shortly.

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MediaKind CEO Mark Russell discusses microservice software development in this clip from his panel at the OTT Leadership Summit at Streaming Media West 2018.