Akamai Appeals to Hollywood Studios at NAB 2014

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Some of the demonstrations taking place in the Akamai booth at the 2014 NAB show share the same goal: showing Hollywood studios that the cloud has arrived for feature film use. Akamai has completed a security assessment by the MPAA (Motion Picture Association of America), and as part of that effort has integrated DRM (digital rights management) through partners Irdeto and BuyDRM.

The MPAA assessment involved strict audits by third-party companies that looked at the full ingest and processing workflow at Akamai. Content needed to be secured from the moment it left the customer until it was processed and delivered. Akamai already knew what it takes to create a fully secure workflow, says Kurt Michel, the company’s director of product marketing, because of its work handling financial transactions.

To create the secure workflow, Akamai created DRM partnerships with Irdeto and BuyDRM, and now supports Microsoft PlayReady and Adobe Access. Customers can transcode content and wrap it in DRM protection in one step, rather than first needing to apply DRM and then uploading it to the cloud. The process is designed to be transparent to customers.

“Customers have been asking us for an integrated way of doing digital rights management,” says Michel. By working with Irdeto and BuyDRM, he says Akamai is removing the barriers that kept some content owners from using the cloud. Akamai is one of the first to complete the MPAA security assessment.

To make uploading and downloading large mezzanine video files fast enough for business use, Akamai announced a partnership with Aspera last week that integrates Aspera’s FASP technology into Akamai’s NetStorage platform. The result should mean that large files are transferred far faster no matter the size of the file or the distance they’re being sent.

Akamai has beta customers already using the full solution, but none are talking to press since boasting about security solutions sounds like a challenge to hackers and pirates.

The biggest demo going on at the Akamai booth, however, is one showing a linear stream from Elemental’s servers in Oregon. The demo shows how live 4K video can be encoded to HEVC MPEG-DASH at 60fps, compressed to 15Mbps, and streamed. This is the first time a demonstration like this has been done over a public CDN, says Michel. With help from Qualcomm and Elemental, Akamai debuted a 30fps HEVC MPEG-DASH live stream at this year’s CES. The NAB demo doubles the data rate, Michel notes, calling it Akamai’s tour de force for this show.

Tomorrow, Akamai will formally announce that it is adding native support for MPEG-DASH and HTTP Dynamic Streaming (HDS) for live and linear streaming. Michel says that DASH will see wide support in Europe first, due to HbbTV requirements. Elemental is Akamai's first partner for direct DASH and HDS ingest.

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