Piksel Defines Future of Video With Micro-Services Architecture

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The concept of television has changed substantially over the last decade or so, moving away from the traditional idea of a TV set with fixed schedules, and more towards TV everywhere. Driven by the digitization of video, the ubiquity of the internet and increasing demands from viewers, this shift has influenced television content and consumption, from production and distribution, to the ways in which content is consumed — where, when and on which device.

Engage and Monetise

Kevin Joyce, chief strategy officer at Piksel, says that new video workflows and greater use of computing resources are what makes it possible for broadcasters, OTT providers and multichannel video programming distributors, MVPDs, to keep pace with trends. Piksel specialises in designing, building and managing online video systems on a software-as-a-service infrastructure.

He said, “This growth in the online video space has created new businesses and disrupted many existing ones. It continues to present new opportunities. To capitalize on these opportunities, producers, distributors and online video businesses need access to functions that help them reach and engage their audiences, speed up time to market and expand monetization opportunities.

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“Companies like Piksel foresaw that as the online video market matured into the mid and late 2010s, building a new system from the ground up every time changes emerged wasn’t a viable approach. The monolithic, single-focus approach to building online video platforms certainly has its merits, but looking into the future and coping with the evolving needs of the industry requires a slightly different approach.”

Monolithic vs Micro Services

Kevin believes the future of television production and delivery will be characterised by modularity, flexibility, simpler workflows and cloud-based services. These characteristics, in turn, describe video platforms built using a micro-services architecture, or MSA. The intended result is discrete functions and components that can be mixed and matched as packaged products according to customer requirements, in order to build the right system.

Piksel has been developing an MSA called Piksel Palette, first released in 2014. Like many video platform developers, the intention is to simplify the complexity of the video workflow. The Palette uses a modular, cloud-based approach combined with a services-orientated architecture framework to do this. The user chooses the functionality they need at a given time, which in turn shortens the time to market and adds the kind of versatility needed to work in the online video space.

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The Life of a Micro-Services Architecture

The MSA approach is based on many fine-grained, lightweight services and follows what is known as the ‘single responsibility principle’. “A visual way to visualise and understand it is to think of the monolithic approach as a train - one engine driving everything in a single direction on a single track. The MSA method, conversely, is like a fleet of cars. Each one has its own engine, driving across a number of lanes, all going in the direction and speed the system needs them to,” said Kevin.

“One of the guiding principles of the MSA approach is that each service is focused on a particular set of capabilities, while the ultimate goal is to break down the overall functionality into as small a service as is practical. This allows the services to operate and evolve independently. Upgrades and fixes may be carried out as necessary, and verified and released on their own schedule, often several times a day through continuous, repeatable delivery.”

Furthermore, the architecture is built on the understanding that these services will fail and are engineered to tolerate and recover from such failures. Therefore close monitoring is vital when working under an MSA to make sure the right measures are taken to maintain overall health of the system.  

Evolving Opportunities

Particularly regarding challenges like monetization of content, competition and how to engage the viewer, online video will continue to evolve and open new opportunities. Kevin said, “Although the goals for broadcasters and MVPDs will remain similar to what they always have been - high quality delivery of content, keeping audiences happy and engaged, and more agile product marketing - in a market that continues to feel the effects of rapid evolution, we expect the interest in the versatility and flexibility of an MSA to continue to grow.”   www.piksel.com