Challenges of QoS Monitoring and Management
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Ken Haren: Our monitoring solutions were designed over the last 15, 20 years to serve folks that operated their own distribution networks, starting with cable and telco providers, but we also sell extensively into CDN providers who need to have a thorough understanding of how the content is reaching the audience. And at every point in that distribution chain where things might go wrong, being able to validate exactly where things are breaking down and how that's impacting their ability to reach their audience was something not just valued, but it was an essential quality of what it means to be a CDN or a cable provider with direct-to-consumer services.
One thing that we've seen is that there's this rush to build a viable OTT channel. I'm going to leverage best-of-breed CDN partners. Maybe I deliver a mezzanine feed just like I'm accustomed to doing through a SaaS provider to a downlink, or maybe a third party is taking that content and packaging and making it accessible for my OTT application. Maybe I'm doing that prep work myself. But very rarely does the direct-to-consumer OTT publisher fully own end-to-end how they're reaching their audience. Getting a viable channel up and running was goal one, and everybody sort of figured that part out. And now it's wrapping that in the ability to quantify, "Are my CDN partners doing a good job of reaching my audience in all locations?" And we saw this emerging need for more and more clients' analytics tools.
Now you have, with products like our OptiQ product, where I can deploy in public cloud data centers, I can simulate end-user experiences across different geographies and get back real objective quality-of-service metrics as delivered in those regions. And then you come back one step further. I want to measure the health and availability of assets on the origin. Come back another step. I want to see what I'm contributing into my either third-party or production environment for reaching that audience. Am I delivering a quality feed there, because each one of these points introduce impairments that are gonna impact things downstream.
So if I'm just measuring at the client and I see I've got a challenge there, degraded video quality or asset availability challenge, or otherwise, something's not quite right there being able to sort of track back into not just the delivery network, but all the way back into the production environment and measure and understand exactly what the health and performance of that channel is something that wasn't the top-of-mind requirement with when building these direct-to-consumer services.
And now as they become, in some cases, the lead to reaching my audience--not just a second-screen experience, but this is actually how I deliver content to my audience--it's certainly become paramount for our customers to have that visibility. By the way, there's a second element to that, and that kind of coincides with you're talking about here with not just measuring at each point, but those points have become different as well. It used to be that you owned the encoders and the packagers and the processing units that are responsible for delivery. Oftentimes now you may own them, but the infrastructure is not yours, or you may not own them at all. You may be doing that through third-party services. And so being able to deploy monitoring in environments that you don't necessarily operate yourself is another important element there to giving that kind of visibility.
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