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As traditional cable, satellite, and terrestrial TV are challenged by over-the-top (OTT), internet protocol television (IPTV), and video-on-demand services -- made even more challenging by higher-bandwidth, last-mile fiber, and 5G mobile network extensions -- service providers are transforming their technology infrastructures to decrease lag time for viewers. Werner Gold, Red Hat’s emerging solutions evangelist for the telecommunications industry, discussed the issue with TelecomTV at 2018’s Mobile World Congress in Barcelona, Spain.

Increased OTT and IPTV traffic creates more congestion on aggregation networks, Gold explained. “We need to have more powerful, flexible content delivery networks that are also being virtualized, and new caches can be built at the network edge to host the content there to offload this kind of traffic from the aggregation networks,” he said. “But also the OTT traffic is competing with live linear TV… where we need to bring the content very fast to the customers as well.”

A new infrastructure is needed for a new world where the telecommunications and media industries are melding together. Moving functions like content delivery networks (CDNs) closer to the customers goes hand-in-hand with increasing investments in network functions virtualization (NFV). More customers are also looking closely at containerizing workloads, and Gold said he expects to see the containerization of workloads as a follow-up to this infrastructure change.

That’s particularly true for live linear TV, which Gold said is one of the most challenging workloads as it requires taking “care of the time lags between, for instance, satellite deployment and internet deployment.” Such lags are a problem especially when it comes to sports events. As Gold explains it: No one wants to hear a neighbor watching the same game shout “goal!” when they are dealing with a 30-second lag. Multicast playout is key for live linear TV. The secret for removing delay is to have a “common infrastructure in between the origin servers and the consumers, and so you can use multicast for playout and this way you can get rid of the time lag,” he said.

For this evolving environment, Red Hat provides technology such as Red Hat OpenStack Platform for resource virtualization and Red Hat OpenShift Container Platform. “We are providing infrastructure for the new playout channels and delivery formats within the internet, and this was where we long had expertise,” Gold said.

Red Hat has recently expanded our Partner Program to support the specific needs of the telco industry. The Global Network Ecosystem Partner (NEP) initiative is designed to accelerate a vibrant ecosystem of technology companies whose solutions run on or integrate with Red Hat products. We have expanded and enhanced our core certification activities that are the foundation of Red Hat’s offerings for telco service providers, including our NFV and VNF certifications.

This expansion may help service providers re-architect and transform their networks from traditional, physical network functions to virtualized network functions (VNFs) using open source software and white-box servers. It may also help service providers explore network edge use cases, such as virtual central office (VCO), virtualized customer premise equipment (vCPE), head end virtualization in streaming services, and the delivery of other mobile services.

By migrating to VNFs and network edge use cases, providers should be able to dynamically allocate resources for optimal efficiency, deploy new services more quickly and closer to customers, and automate network deployments and operations. They look to gain simplified networks, reduced expenses, and increased speeds.

To hear more from Werner Gold on this topic, watch his full TelecomTV interviews on unlocking SP virtualization and getting content closer to customers. And take a look at this white paper, written for Red Hat by Roz Roseboro, a principal analyst with Heavy Reading: “Open Source: A Framework for Digital Services Modernization.”

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