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The media functions virtualization (MFV) journey is underway at many cable and media companies. MFV can help drive greater agility and efficiency in the methods in which media content is delivered. Red Hat has helped Multiple Service Operators (MSOs) to build their MFV solutions in order to reduce costs, scale efficiently, and decrease time to market. 

Let’s explore their MFV journey further.

Traditional telecommunications carriers initiated their journey to network functions virtualization (NFV) quite some time ago, after the European Telecommunications Standards Institute (ETSI) whitepaper was published in 2012. This journey began with OpenStack, and leveraged traditional virtual machine (VM) technology in a new and innovative way. This journey, and subsequent process of refactoring of applications has been going on for almost a decade. 

Telecommunications carriers and their vendors have experienced bumps along the way and learned a number of lessons as the industry overcame those challenges. Many carriers now have large-scale, successful telco cloud implementations that have helped weather COVID-19 related demand created by massive workplace shifts to home and consumer based internet video meetings. 

Largely, cable and media companies are focused on experiences from the telco operators to create their MFV strategies. Cable operators provide the network backbone infrastructure that many telcos will be using, and deploying a strategy that interlocks cable and media with telco—but retains a flexible nature—will be key to success. 

Media companies aspire to get their content out faster than ever, and with many customers doing even more from home, optimizing bandwidth by strategically locating transcoding and various workflows is even more critical. Both industries will rely on each other as well as traditional telcos to get their technology closer to the edge—and ultimately to the consumer. 

The cable companies see their infrastructure as being one of the driving factors to help them succeed with MFV.

Where are they within the journey?

The transition from monolithic stateful applications can be a long one, as we've learned from not just traditional telcos, but other industries moving to a software-defined, cloud-native model. My observation is that many organizations have undergone, or are undergoing workflows in adjustment, and the accompanying ecosystem is in a similar state of flux. By leveraging automation and integration technologies, these companies are able to derive value from cloud-native and automation models, even if the entire service chain hasn’t completely adopted them. 

There are a few different implementations being employed: migration from one platform to another with refactoring, a complete rewrite starting from scratch, or simply waiting until a technology can be replaced. 

What happens if some parts of the stack don't lend themselves to being virtualized or containerized presently? And how can you  get as much value as possible from the new technologies that are coming into the market?

Let’s walk through a transformation engagement, and what to expect.

This process begins with the platform. With the next-generation platforms, we're seeing a heavy focus on horizontal integration instead of the traditional single-vendor vertical stack. Once we identify a common open integrated stack, we can look at how the applications themselves are hosted. This is the real differentiation that comes into play, including the selection of ecosystem partners. 

Further choice is presented via internally built-in design applications and applicability to specific use cases in business content creation, distribution, or connectivity. Advantages can be more fully realized through self-provisioning artificial intelligence (AI) and machine learning (ML), and self-healing to the delight of the customer whether classified in the enterprise or in the consumer environment.

For more information on MFV, explore our recent webinar Application Modernization and the Journey from Monoliths to Microservices, hosted in January 2021.


Rob Wilmoth is a Chief Architect on the Red Hat Americas Service Provider team. He works closely with customers and partners assisting with challenges ranging from regulatory compliance and general IT, to changing their perspectives and approaches towards business problems in the network and content delivery spaces. He has excelled in solution architecture roles supporting a range of industry participants including AT&T, WarnerMedia, Charter Communications, Comcast, TIAA Bank and the utility industry.

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