Amazon throws its weight behind unified streaming video efforts – Rethink Technology Research

Rethink Technology Research

By Thomas Flanagan
Nine months after we first heard that Amazon was poised to join the Streaming Video Alliance, the firm has finally put pen to paper by signing up its AWS cloud technology arm. Members don’t come much bigger than AWS, and the latest addition is a huge boost for promoting technical collaboration across the OTT video industry.
With Netflix now relying heavily on AWS infrastructure as well as investing R&D dollars in its own streaming technologies, we would not be surprised to see the world’s largest streaming company become the next significant member of the Alliance. However, despite the Streaming Video Alliance boasting some major members, it is less common for giant companies or service providers to join groups pushing for open standards, as they generally want to keep ownership of their own ecosystems.
Specifically what AWS is bringing to the table has not been revealed, but the potential to use its massive web infrastructure as a testbed for the development of technologies including open caching, in which Alliance co-founder Qwilt specializes, will serve as a significant learning curve for the body.
The unrivaled scalability of AWS will give members some insights into what is required to support rapidly growing streaming audiences, while investigating different delivery methods including IP Multicast, UDP vs. TCP and LTE Broadcast.
The Alliance aims to improve the efficiency of over-the-top video streaming through guidelines and technical specifications, covering multiple aspects including the critical CDN (content delivery network) stage of the content lifecycle, by implementing technologies such as open APIs for content and CDN providers, plus common compute and storage resources for delivering content to the end user across shorter distances, reducing packet loss.
It also has working groups digging into the areas of analytics, architecture, interoperability, management, monetization, playback and security.
As well as the vendors, the Alliance also boasts some big service provider names, including Comcast, Verizon, Liberty Global, Charter Communications, Sky and NBCUniversal.
The Alliance, founded in 2014, is a newer entrant to a cluttered field of TV standards bodies which already includes the ITU, EBU, DVB, SMPTE, and MPEG. The Alliance for IP Media Solution only entered the fray in December 2015, to promote adoption of standards for the broadcast and media industry as it migrates from SDI to IP.
Qwilt told us earlier this year that it was due to commence phase 2 of its trials to create an open caching standard, using the recently approved Open Caching Request Routing and HTTPS Delegation technical specification, but we were unable to receive an update on the trial’s progress. Phase 1 was completed back in February, which involved CDN providers Limelight Networks, Level 3 and Verizon’s EdgeCast, testing the specification on both live and VoD content, with additional involvement from MLBAM Tech, Yahoo and Viacom. It may have delayed the commencement of phase 2 as it waited for AWS to jump on board.
An AWS spokesperson said: “AWS is committed to supporting content programmers’ advanced internet video services and to enhancing online video experiences for consumers. Joining the Alliance connects us with some of the best minds in the industry which helps drive interoperability of video streaming solutions and establishes best practices as the progression toward software- and cloud-based video infrastructures accelerates.”
The full list of current Streaming Video Alliance members is: AWS, Adobe, Anevia, Arris, Ateme, Cedexis, CenturyLink, Charter Communications, Ciena, Cisco, Comcast, Concurrent, Conviva, Digital Element, Dolby, Edgeware, Encompass TV, Ericsson, Espial Group, FriendMTS, Fox Networks, Friends MTS, Harmonic, Hughes Satellite Systems, IBM, IneoQuest, Intel, Interra Systems, Irdeto, Level 3 Communications, Liberty Global, Limelight Networks, Massive Interactive, MediaMelon, MLBAM, Mobolize, NBCUniversal, NCTA, NeuLion, Nexguard, Nice People at Work, Nokia, OwnZones, Qwilt, Sinclair Broadcast Group, Sky, SSIMWave, Telecom Italia, THX, Verimatrix, Verizon, Viacom, ViaPlay, ViaSat, Viavi, Western Digital  and Wowza Media Systems.