Last month's Red Hat Summit in Boston could just as easily have been the OpenShift Summit, considering the three-day conference's hyper-focus on the OpenShift bandwagon -- a focus that began with the announcement on the first day that Red Hat customers will be able to deploy AWS services from within the Red Hat OpenShift Container Platform.
Sky Italia's technology department, for its part, is already in the process of leveraging OpenShift to enable its OTT and other video offerings. Davide Gandino, a speaker at Red Hat Summit, took some time to sit down with Telco Transformation after his presentation to more fully explain Sky Italia's video strategy as well as OpenShift's role therein.
In part one of this lightly edited Q&A, Gandino offers background on Sky Italia's OTT offerings while explaining OpenShift's part in the OTT customer experience. In part two, look for Gandino to talk more about advanced video analytics (including AI), as well as Sky Italia's view of other video trends.
Telco Transformation: Tell me more about your role at Sky Italia. How do you and your department play into OTT specifically?
Davide Gandino: I have worked at Sky Italia since 2013. I'm now OTT & Cloud Processing & Delivery Manager. Basically, I take care of the physical and virtual infrastructure of the technology department.
Besides taking care of the infrastructure, we do operate the OTT services starting from the encoding and we handle delivery of the content.
TT: What can you tell me about Sky's OTT platforms?
DG: We do have two OTT platforms. One is Sky Go, which is for the satellite subscriber -- so it's a free offer for the satellite subscriber. And then the other one is the so-called Now TV, which is an offer for the non-satellite subscriber. It's basically another OTT offer with a transactional model. It's Netflix-like. Let's put it this way.
TT: So is Sky Go also similar to Netflix? Or is it advertisement-based?
DG: There is [advertising] because it's free. It's part of the satellite subscription, so there are definitely advertisements. They don't pay for it. When they get the subscription of Sky DTH satellite, they get Sky Go for free as well, with a couple of connected devices so they can use it in parallel.
We support smartphones, tablets and PCs in Sky Go, while with Now TV we also support gaming consoles, connected TVs and stuff like that…all the most common devices.
TT: In terms of that, how important do you see mobility being?
DG: Well, I think that's really important. We do see some figures when there is a football match, for instance, when the traffic is really high. So we do see people are really starting to use the OTT service. And that's why we are pushing really hard to get the best experience that we can get. For Sky Italia, it's really important to provide the best experience to the customer.
TT: So in terms of that "best experience," where do you and your role come in?
DG: My team is responsible for producing all the content and delivering all of that to the customers. So we did develop a solution which we call the CDN (Content-Delivery Network) Selector, in which we decide which CDN sends each and every stream based on some business rules and on some telemetry intelligence -- meaning that we know what's going on in the field -- we know if there is an issue on a particular ISP, and we route the specific ISP on a specific CDN, for instance. Or we know that there is an issue on a specific CDN. We do have a multiple CDN approach, meaning that we use five or six CDNs, so we decide to use the best one for every specific client, every specific user.
With this telemetry intelligence, we know some KPIs (key performance indicators), we know the buffer ratio, we know the average bit rate, [and] we know if there are 404 or any other kinds of HTTP errors. So we know what's going on. We know how to [make decisions] for a better experience.
TT: How are you achieving that? What tools are you using?
DG: Well, at the moment, this solution is running on VMs (virtual machines). We are going to move that over to OpenShift most probably because we've got to be able to scale out. At the moment, it's a static solution; we cannot scale out. I mean, we can, of course. Creating more VMs is really something that you can do in seconds; it's something you can do in one hour, maybe. With OpenShift we will be able to do it automatically so [we] won't waste any computational power. This is something we are working on now.
We did use OpenShift for the first time in the [context of] VoD [video on demand] encoding, and that was a pilot project in the use of OpenShift. And then we are working on other projects that will help us to decrease the waste of computational power. This is what we want to achieve in the end.
TT: Where are you seeing a lot of that waste?
DG: For this specific example, we did scale the CDN selector for the peak. We need to be able to cope with the peak, but during the day there is no peak. Not many customers are watching OTT or watching VoD, so when using OpenShift during the day there can be fewer bots and agents running -- and during the night there can be an increase following the traffic [surge]. This is something we want to add in coming months.
— Joe Stanganelli, Contributing Writer, Telco Transformation