Adaptive streaming protocols will be a critical component for operators offering IP video services. One of the key functions in Adaptive streaming is a “packaging” function that creates playlists/manifests, segments the video into chunks, and “wraps” the chunks to make them suitable for one of several protocols. There is an ongoing debate as to the merits of where to perform adaptive stream packaging within a service provider’s content delivery network (CDN). Various analyses have considered centralized, distributed, and edge packaging architectures. These analyses primarily considered the CDN bandwidth and storage savings that could be attributed to distributed/edge packaging architectures versus the operational complexity that would likely result. In addition, these evaluations focused more on video on demand (VOD) rather than linear content distribution.
For many Service Providers the ability to centralize all transcoding and packaging operations is appealing, particularly if they own the CDN and are therefore less concerned with the per-bit content distribution costs. For other Service Providers, particularly those that want to augment their existing service with streaming capabilities, but are sensitive to these costs and the costs associated with standing up large centralized video processing centers, the ability to customize content at the edge may make more sense. So, for example, a Tier 2 or Tier 3 operator may want to augment his offerings out of an existing Regional Headend.
In addition, edge packaging may offer options that can reduce the complexity associated with providing certain desired system functions. For example, considering regional ad insertion and blackout, edge packagers can incorporate simple functions that emulate similar legacy system capabilities which minimize the impact to a service provider’s network and operations.
Finally, this paper will also explore some of the unique functional capabilities that packagers can offer in support of centralized or regionalized architectures, including intelligent access network capacity management, playlist obfuscation for ad insertion, regionalized blackout, and support for both legacy and advanced advertising in adaptive environments. This will enable operators to fully understand the trade-offs of implementing various packaging architectures and make the right choices when rolling out IP video services.