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Bringing DevOps to Pay TV | @DevOpsSummit #DevOps #IoT #Microservices
Continuous innovation is a concept that has taken hold with internet companies and other consumer tech companies
By: Mark Hydar
Mar. 8, 2016 09:30 PM
With live TV, there is no room for error. There's no reset button. Any mistake can have a catastrophic effect on their brand. If during the World Series or the Super Bowl or a Presidential debate a system fails to handle the capacity or load - it would affect millions of people around the country. Simply put, it's a front page news story waiting to happen.
Continuous innovation is a concept that has taken hold with internet companies such as Amazon, Netflix, eBay, Google and countless other consumer tech companies, but is still a relatively new concept in the world of pay TV. Because consumers have been conditioned to expect continuous innovation from the technologies that they interact with every day - from website experiences to the operating software on their tablets - their expectations towards pay TV have evolved to expect the same cadence of new product and feature releases as their other consumer technology offers. Unfortunately, our industry has a lot of catching up to do.
The pay TV industry has historically used waterfall software development techniques to develop new products. Waterfall's traditional, time-consuming methods typically result in one or two product releases a year. While that approach worked very well for years, it's no longer acceptable in a world where TV has been transformed by web, mobile and cloud-based technologies. Tech-savvy consumers now expect highly personalized experiences updated on a daily basis - not years. At home, they expect their TV to know who they are, what content they enjoying watching and the ability to access that content instantly, regardless of the screen they're using.
Compounding the issue is that there are new over-the-top TV services seemingly launching on a monthly basis that are beginning to offer the flexibility and personalization that consumers want. Consumers now have more choices than ever before, and can easily switch services with an app download. When you combine consumer sentiment with these new emerging services, it's clear that pay TV can no longer afford to innovate at a glacial pace.
How can we catch up?
A DevOps approach is now crucial in today's environment to respond to consumer needs, while also reducing time to market. DevOps lays the groundwork for ensuring the team that delivers the solution also supports the solution, and is engaged every day in ensuring the experience being delivered meets consumer demands.
Ericsson, a Swedish telecommunications company that provides the TV and multiscreen experience to over 100 global service providers including AT&T, TELUS and Telefónica, has taken a DevOps approach in its next gen TV experience platform. The new platform utilizes agile software development to enable continuous innovation and delivery of new functionality, developed in conjunction with customers every six weeks. With agile development, each new release of functionality is tested on users to ensure that new products are customer-centric and will be adopted successfully. This approach minimizes the risk of time intensive and costly launch failures, which is essential when introducing disruptive new initiatives.
Minimizing launch failure risk is especially critical when you consider the business-to-business-to-consumer (B2B2C) pay TV business model. The B2B2C model provides operators with the ability to create a truly immersive consumer experience that drives scalability and revenue without the burden of managing a time consuming and costly infrastructure, but the stakes are high for B2B2C vendors. In a traditional B2C initiative, if the development team impacts the customer, they are only impacting their own business. In pay TV, if our developers make a mistake, not only does it affect a service provider's revenue, millions of TV viewers are impacted.
With live TV, there is no room for error. There is no reset button. Any mistake can have a catastrophic effect on their brand value. If during the World Series or the Super Bowl or a Presidential debate a system fails to handle the capacity or load - it would affect millions of people around the country. Simply put, it's a front page news story waiting to happen.
At Ericsson, the Development Operations and the Deployment teams work hand-in-hand in a continuous engagement model to evolve products at the speed of consumer-focused web platforms like Amazon or Facebook. Working together, the teams are able to match the pace of the market to ensure the products are reflecting the latest trends and behaviors that consumers expect, such as personalized discovery/recommendations, multiscreen support, cloud DVR and advanced on-demand capabilities. Because developers no longer toss code over the fence to operations, when bugs are found they are fixed fast and fixed permanently. Near real-time speed of development plus increased code durability are essential for pay TV to remain relevant and competitive in today's environment, where choice is everything.
Switching to a DevOps approach has given us four major benefits:
A Cultural Shift
A successful DevOps mindset starts with team and organization culture. It is very much comparable to team sports culture. For DevOps to work there must be shared passions and goals. Just like managing a sports team, you can expect continual improvement but not perfection, and most importantly there must be transparency and clarity into the current state of the development and delivery pipeline. With this, customers will trust and embrace the DevOps model because they will experience lower risks and better control, and the ability to revert as fast as they want.
DevOps benefit developers and engineers, but also ultimately benefits your organization as a whole. Your organization will be more transparent, unified and collaborative than ever before. This collaboration will also inspire greater customer satisfaction and loyalty, improving your organization's bottom line.
The Time to Move Is Now
There are risks - moving too fast to push out a feature or service that's not ready for prime time can have catastrophic results. But if you get it right, the benefits to both your organization and to your customers are endless.
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