MSA and the online video future

Multiscreen - TV, phone, tablet
Kevin Joyce, Piksel
October 18th 2016 at 3:57PM : By

Kevin Joyce, chief strategy officer at Piksel, believes micro-services architecture is the future of video platforms

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

It is in innovations around video workflows and the rise in use of computing resources that is enabling broadcasters, OTT providers and multichannel video programming distributors (MVPDs) alike to keep pace with evolving trends.

Predicting the future


Just consider that today, over 5 billion videos will be watched on YouTube, and 70% of the bandwidth of the internet will be taken up by video. This explosion in the online video space has created many new businesses and disrupted more than a few, but continues to present a wealth of opportunities. To capitalise on these opportunities, a technology platform must help broadcasters and online video businesses reach their audiences and enhance viewer engagement while speeding up time to market and enhancing monetization opportunities.

Companies like Piksel foresaw that as the online video market matured into the mid and late 2010s, building a unique and bespoke solution every time simply wasn’t a viable solution. The monolithic 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.

So what does the future look like? Well, it’s modular and flexible, with simplified workflows and cloud-based services. In a nutshell, we believe the future of video platforms is built using a micro-services architecture (MSA). The main benefit of this? Discrete features as packaged solutions that can be mixed and matched according to customer requirements in order to build the right kind of solution..

Micro-services architecture

The MSA approach is based on many fine-grained, lightweight services and follows what is called “the single responsibility principle.”

An easy way to visualise 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 is like a fleet of cars, each with its own engine, driving across a number of lanes, each going in the direction and speed it needs to.

One of the guiding principles of the MSA approach is that each service is focused on a particular set of capabilities, with the ultimate goal being to break down the overall functionality into as small a service as is reasonable. 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 and repeatable delivery. In addition, the architecture is built on the understanding that these services will fail and are engineered to tolerate and recover from such failures. Best in class monitoring is vital for an MSA to ensure that the right actions are undertaken in order to maintain overall good health.

The future of online video

The online video space will continue to evolve, influenced by consumers and the larger industry - challenges like monetisation of content, competition and how to engage the viewer will continue to change and present new opportunities. For broadcasters and MVPDs the goals will remain similar to what they always have been – high quality delivery of content, keeping audiences happy and engaged, and becoming more agile in the ways in which they bring their offers to market. It is here, in a market that continues to feels the effects of rapid evolution, that the versatility and flexibility offered by an MSA will be critical to success.