Transforming the Back Office - A Multi-Screen Necessity


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  • Thank you. My name is Brian Cappellani, and I am the CTO of Sigma Systems. As part of this track on Multi-screen video, I am going to talk to you about the changes that are needed to try and make sure that the capabilities promised by next generation video platforms can actually be delivered profitably and with scale. And that means talking about the enabling capabilities that need to be provided in the OSS and Back Office.
  • But first, a little bit about my company. Sigma Systems is an OSS – provisioning and activation company based out of Canada. We have been in the business for over 15 years and our expertise is provisioning of broadband and the services that ride on top of it. Our global client base includes both large and small operators globally in the telco, mobile and wireless spaces. We have lots of experience provisioning not only legacy video in the cable space, but also next gen IPTV platforms, including Microsoft Mediaroom and Cisco VideoscapeSo, we have been in the video space for over 15 years – in both cable and telco.And we have seen it change…
  • And as all of you in this session will be aware, the environment in which operators deliver video and how their customers consume it is changing rapidly. Operators are moving to next generation and multi-screen delivery in order to provide their customers with the ability to consume video when, where and how they want it.And how they want it has changed.We are moving from a world of traditional middleware with their thick clients and “me-too” grid-based guides to one of “cloud-based” UIs, HTML5 and vastly improved user experiences around video driven through advanced middleware and new platforms. The goal being to provide the same kind of immersive relationship that customers have grown to expect from internet-based video sitesWe are moving from a world of broadcast to one of broadband and everything on demand – with customers subscribing to, and activating those services themselves, directly over their own devicesAnd operators are now dealing with new sets of devices – again, moving away from legacy set top boxes to integrating video on retail devices – including things like Smart TVs – this implies a future world without STBsAnd even the definition of the TV is changing as video is increasingly delivered multi-screen – to devices like tablets and cell phones. This even includes integration of the video stream to a second screen experience on a hand held. This drives a proliferation of devices and formats – with the customer now “bringing their own device”Whether you were XXX earlier in the year, or at the Cable Show two weeks ago – co-incided with the TMF show in Dublin – and I saw lots of interesting models of interaction with tablets or a phone as a “second screen” – interactive clients synchronized to the content playing out on the primary screen, integrating real time social messaging featuresBut the changes are not only on the client side – operators also need to look at the distribution network – building Content Delivery Networks for IP delivery With this increase in IP-based delivery, you now have the issue of using DRM for security, which brings with it the need to support both multiple DRM formats and platforms.All of this as operators attempt to integrate and blend over the top content into their offerings to forestall the “OTT tipping point” and defend the value of their subscription-based video packages.Now that is a lot to have to deliver as an operator. But if you are a telco, you maybe have just got your own IPTV service finally rolling out to scale, now with the ability to match, and maybe even slightly improve on the current basic offerings of your competition - the cable provider. You have the linear channels, some VoD. Maybe you have the hope that the latest Mediaroom release will now give you the platform on which to expand your offerings….
  • But are you really ready ? Maybe you have a technology platform that can deliver the “me too” offers in the space, but studies by McKinsey and Mariner Partners have found that telco operators still stumble with the scaling and thus operational cost of even traditional TV service.Installations aren’t smoothOne in three installs requires a costly second truck rollA quarter of IPTV customers swap their STB within 3 years of service because of problems, and guess what – most of the time the issue isn’t the STB. Their problems are one of environment or provisioningAs a result, and not surprisingly, <PG DOWN>Mariner found that TelcoTV operators spend 3 times more on Opex than cable operators. It is difficult to change the game and start dealing with all of these next generation video requirements when you are already struggling with delivering legacy
  • But hold on. Your cable breatheren have their own struggles in evolving to next generation IP videoThey have to deal with their legacy QAM-based distribution system and how to layer IP on top of it.They are working on a variety of strategies, but many include using a hybrid home gateway that transparently blends both legacy QAM and IP seamlessly and transcodes QAM to IP for delivery to devices within the home.They are preparing their networks for all IP deliverySo they are now having their struggles as they try to move to systems and architectures to deliver these next generation requirements.So why are both telcos and cablecos struggling with fulfilling these requirements? Well let’s take a look at how many of their back offices currently work….
  • And what we see is surprisingly the same. Here is what we typically see at an operator today for video. The billing system (the “Applications” box) is pretty much “hard wired” in a silo directly to the current video delivery servers. While this worked in the past, and maybe got you to market, it now limits you in terms of your flexibility in dealing with the new systems and devices that are coming on stream as part of delivering next generation video. And the systems you need to deal with just in the delivery of next generation video are multiplying.<PG DOWN>Aside from just traditional linear video, there are new next-generation video platforms that need to be provisioned – whether they are “intermediate” adjunct platforms, like a TiVo, or a true next generation platform like Cisco Videoscape; they need to now be provisioned with their appropriate set of customer entitlements and device definitions. Some of these systems even have their own definitions and identifiers for customers – sometimes even something like an email address vs a billing account number.<PG DOWN>If you are using a gateway strategy in the home, you now have the capability to use technologies like TR-069 to manage and provision non-video capabilities in the gateway – such as WiFi. You can also provide the capability to see into and manage and monitor the customer’s home network. This will become much more important with IP delivery of video to devices inside the customer’s home. And these types of systems can now enable you to make this home network management a service you can sell to your customers.<PG DOWN> And as operators are evolving their strategies, if they aren’t using an integrated system like Videoscape or Mediaroom, they often start out with a separate “TV Everywhere” system for video outside the home – potentially with their own view of the customer. And if you are partnering with content providers in a model that allows your customers to watch online video on a content providers site (like HBO GO) if they are a HBO subscriber on your network – the so called “authentication” model – you need a system that can support these types of identity queries from your partners that system needs to know about the channels and video entitlements to which the customer has subscribed as well. And provisioning these systems isn’t even provisioning in the “classical” sense that we know – it can mean providing a place where these systems can come to find out “on the fly” – in real time - what video entitlements a user has.<PG DOWN> And of course, you need to ensure the appropriate bandwidth exists for all these services – incorporating and ensuring this is going to be increasingly important in distinguishing your video offering from one over the top. And many times, the bandwidth provisioning is occurring in its own silo – separate from video.<PG DOWN> And I’m even going to throw in phone service – because if you are offering a FTTX delivery model, then you are probably running VoIP as well in your bundle.So, you can see how this gets complicated pretty quickly. And all this plays out in an environment where the network delivery technology itself is rapidly evolving, and as an operator, you may see yourself dealing with multiple vendors, and changing out vendors as your strategy emerges, in any one of those boxes<PG DOWN> So I can understand why operators are concerned about how to deal with all these new technologies, while still managing their legacy video environment, because that large existing base of set top boxes is not going away overnight. In fact, one of the key items will be how to make the migration from legacy to next gen video simple and largely transparent for the customer.
  • But it is not just the systems that need to be provisioned that are changing. How we look at customers and their video entitlements need to change as well.Current systems have a relatively simplistic entitlements model – one that is based around households and set top boxes. You associate some simple entitlements – generally channels or packages to one or many set top boxes.That was fine for the old way of managing video and the “typical” video offer
  • But these new video platforms provide much more capability, and your next generation systems need to be able to represent that.Next generation platforms like those from Videoscape or Mediaroom provide more than just the ability to watch TV channels – they include advanced features such as whole home PVR, the ability to have different consumption profiles inside and outside the home, even access to games and applications. Existing billing and provisioning systems struggle with the ability to manage these types of new features and entitlements. Without the agility to leverage these types of features, you can’t build the types of packages and offers that users want.And these new models allow the entitlements to not only be more granular, but more personalized as well. You no longer have to think about a household, but you can now think about user-specific entitlements and user-specific devices.And these entitlements will be consumed over multiple devices – not just managed set top boxes, but increasingly “unmanaged” or “bring your own” devices like iPads. Operators need to have the ability to create the correct profile associations across this next generation of devices – including authorizing of devices for particular users for increased content control, if desired.Now that sounds like a lot of challenges in the back office and the integration to all these new platforms and models. So how can operators deal with this new dynamic environment?
  • Here is where OSS comes in. I like to call this the service layer (as per Telemanagement Forum-speak), because it sits between BSS applications like the Billing or CRM systems up top and breaks the hard coded direct connection to the network and delivery platforms. <PG DOWN> It allows these upstream applications to talk to it in the language of services. Thus it provides key “insulation” from any changes in the network. And that insulation is important. I call it abstraction. It allows you to talk about services, not the technology that delivers those services. By using these definitions of services as the language of communication between the systems, you don’t have to worry about having to make changes to your upstream billing systems when you add next generation vendors to your network.<PG DOWN> That means you don’t have to worry if your path to next generation video is evolutionary, or if you work through multiple vendors to get there. You can minimize the changes in your billing and customer care systems as these downstream changes occur – and from what we have seen with both telco and cable operators, there will be vendor changes in the network as they go through their evolution.And this layer also provides you the agility that you need – these service definitions can model and manage the next generation customer entitlements that you need for advanced video services. Here you can think about users and the association of these services and entitlements to users without having to deal with it necessarily in your billing system.And this common interface can support multiple client applications than just the billing system – customers can activate services on demand through this layer; authentication systems can come to this layer to understand customer entitlements.But even more importantly, this abstraction is critical as you want to migrate customers from legacy platforms to next generation ones. One of the key items is the need to make this process not only simple for the customer, but cost-effective for the operator. The service layer can encapsulate these complexities and ensure that the customer’s entitlements remain constant, even as they move from one platform to another.And the second key capability you get with the service layer is Orchestration across all these new platforms<PG DOWN> As we talked about before, video provisioning has gone from being just a simple connection to a video server to needing to ensure that the correct image of the customer entitlements and devices are in all the systems that are needed to make the customer’s experience around video the rich and advanced one that is the goal. This includes ensuring that the correct broadband settings are done “across the silos” to ensure the video quality meets expectations.Because that is what the real value of all of this is - ensuring the overall customer experience. This means things like guaranteeing that the customer has access to the channels they subscribed to on both their set top as well as their iPad as soon as they request it on either of those devices. Think about Apple’s commercials for iCloud to think about how that looks seamless.It means things like making sure that the customer’s access and home network can be managed and monitored the minute the service is provisioned, and ensuring that their broadband connection has the correct speed to match the channel package and features they have purchased. If any one of these systems don’t get the correct data, one of the pieces of the chain is broken and the corresponding aspect of that integrated experience is compromised.Many operators see all these challenges and think – “I need to look at a full scale business transformation across my entire back office environment to really start leveraging the benefits of these next generation platforms in my network.<PG DOWN> But you don’t need to rip and replace to get the benefit of the service layer or next generation video delivery platform. There are many strategies that can be used to leverage these capabilities into your existing environments. We at Sigma have done some very innovative things to allow our customers to get the value of the service layer, including making this layer look just like a traditional video server, and then taking the incoming information, augmenting it and routing it where it needs to go, whether legacy or next gen. So there are options to get this capability without having to totally redesign your entire back office. But if you are looking at a full back office redesign, it is often very efficient to look at implementing this service layer as a first step in that process, and then look at a more complicated billing transformation. Break the silo first, and let billing do what it does best.
  • So in summary:Whether you are a telco or a cable operator, you have challenges in the back office when it comes to unleashing the power of the next generation video platforms that are coming onto your network to deliver multi-screen video.To truly deliver multi-screen video, you need to be able to incorporate new concepts – you need to move from the current ideas of delivering channels to a household and set top box – to focusing more on users and identity and how those users relate to their entitlements and access to content; because you need to think about a more personalized future that doesn’t even necessarily need a STB.Moving to this multi-screen environment is very likely going to cause you to look at different platforms to be able to deliver this capability – you will have some churn in your video delivery platform layer – you will experiment with different vendors and likely replace some existing vendors.If you are able to insert a service layer between your BSS and these platforms on the network, you can prepare your back office for this transition:Insulating your BSS layer from these changesProviding a place to manage these new concepts of users and entitlementsAnd you can do this without having to rip and replace at either your network or BSS layer.So whether you are a telco or cable operator, with the right partners and strategies, you can overcome these challenges and truly provide the multi-screen experience that your customers want, and allow them to continue to value their monthly video subscription with you.
  • Transforming the Back Office - A Multi-Screen Necessity

    1. 1. Transforming the Back Office: A Multi-Screen Necessity Brian Cappellani Sigma Systems
    2. 2. Sigma Systems The authority in provisioning Converged Broadband Services• 15+ years of dedicated OSS development and • Headquartered in Toronto deployment experience • Centers of Excellence in Bangalore and Pune• Successful OSS implementations for service providers • Global Sales and Services offices in the UK, of all types Japan, Portugal & Brazil• Privately held • 50+ deployments in more than 20 countries• Deployments with operators ranging in size from 10 million triple-play-subscribers to 20,000 Broadband and VoIP subscribers• Ongoing commitment to Research and Development• Aligned with key industry standards• Experience in diverse converged broadband environments: ‒ FTTx ‒ DSL ‒ DOCSIS ‒ WiFi ‒ Mobile broadband
    3. 3. Fundamental changes in video delivery User Experience Quantum Leap OTT Tipping Everything on Point? Demand IP Delivery Smart TVs& & CDN Retail Devices Second & Multi-Screen
    4. 4. IPTV Integration Issues and Costs Customer Orders fail after Order Entry Only 20% of installations are „incident free‟  McKinsey One in three installs require a second truck roll 25% of IPTV customers swap their STB within first 3 years of service >90% of STB‟s swapped out proved to be no fault found TelcoTV operators spend 3 times more on Opex than Cable Cos  Mariner Partners
    5. 5. MSO IP Video Evolution While operators prepare for IP, they will continue to leverage existing video distribution networks One potential upgrade path uses hybrid home gateways as a transitional device IP delivery initially for adjunct devices but evolving to default means for video distribution
    6. 6. Typical Current Video Environment “Hard Wired” Video Silo – separate silo from broadband and voice Simplistic models with Lack of Flexibility, Agility How do deal with new demands, dynamic vendor environment and still make the transition ?
    7. 7. Typical Current Video Entitlements Simplistic entitlements model Household and STB based
    8. 8. New Definition of Entitlements New model expands entitlement definition to include advanced features Entitlements defined once and can be associated to multiple platforms – including Users and unmanaged consumer devices
    9. 9. The Service Layer Service Layer provides the key “insulation” from changes & adds agility Abstraction key to migration of subscribers from legacy to next gen Orchestration key to common experience across platforms Doesn‟t have to be “rip and replace”
    10. 10. In Summary Both Telco and Cable Operators need to change their video paradigm for multi-screen and next generation video delivery Move from household and STBs to users, identity and entitlements Abstract the delivery mechanisms and platforms with a service layer Simplifying the service layer allows you to keep BSS layer relatively intact through the evolution
    11. 11. Thank YouBrian CappellaniCTO, Sigma