17 to 100: The SVA Flourishes, Open Caching Goes Mainstream
Yoav Gressel

Yoav Gressel on

17 to 100: The SVA Flourishes, Open Caching Goes Mainstream

Although the concept of TV is around a century old, the age of streaming is still in its relative infancy, with the first commercial services starting only in the late 1990s. Yet, it has only really been the last decade where streaming has become more than just a second screen activity. According to Nielsen, streaming finally overtook TV as the primary means that people consumed video just last year – at least in the US.

When I think back to eight years ago, it was a big leap to imagine we’d be where we are today. I use the benchmark of 2014 as a pivotal year, as this was when the Streaming Video Alliance (SVA) first launched with just 17 founding members. We were unique at the time, as our alliance represented all sides of the media ecosystem, including network service providers, broadcasters, CDNs and publishers, alongside technology vendors.

International in scope and mixed with established players and disruptors alike, we had three initial areas of focus: to define and promote open architectures, quality of experience, and interoperability. Our driving force was to create an alliance that would be outward-looking and would embrace the development of open architectures and interoperable technology.

Streaming Video Alliance (SVA) Members

The Emergence of Open Caching

Once the alliance launched, we started forming working groups while juggling our day jobs. The area that I have been most closely involved in is (of course) the Open Caching Working Group, where I have served at co-chair for several years.

Our broad aim is to help ISPs solve the traffic problem caused by large-scale streaming by establishing the underlying technical architecture and APIs needed to support an in-network, open caching system. Working closely with co-chair Pankaj Chaudhari of Hulu, and previously with Eric Klein of Disney Streaming, we engaged with all stakeholders from the streaming ecosystem to deliver myriad technical papers, presentations and specifications. Just as importantly, we championed our cause across the wider industry, gaining insights (from too many people to list here!) and helping to create viable and workable real-world standards and commercial deployments that benefit all.

Part of our success comes from being industry-led and championing openness. Firstly, this means identifying the critical components of non-proprietary content delivery systems, and secondly, establishing basic architectural guidelines for implementing an open caching system.

A great example of this is the SVA Open Caching working group’s establishment of an industry testbed initiative. It allows companies implementing SVA Open Caching APIs to test their implementation interoperability with those of other companies.

We have also tried to be developer-led, and as such, one of the most complex projects we have worked on is the Open Caching Configuration Interface to facilitate interoperability within the content delivery network and open caching ecosystems.

And earlier this year, these new technical specification documents were approved and are now available to the public.

The Importance of Being Developer-centric

Being developer-led means going a bit further to accommodate not just SVA members’ concerns, but also those of the wider industry. For example, utilizing the Open API initiative which is designed to help developers access APIs easily with any language. And we have embraced this approach internally at Qwilt, where we have flexibility in ways to delegate content to our solution that are much broader than currently specified by the SVA. Another example is our approach to proactive monitoring, which allows Qwilt to identify areas to improve the client experience and suggest site configuration changes to developers.

But the work is not over. We recognize that the role of the SVA is expanding, especially as we just surpassed our 100th member. Today, our members span the globe, encompassing major studios, broadcasters and OTT platforms, a growing number of noteworthy sports leagues, as well as leading ISPs, CDNs and technology vendors.

The SVA has flourished and proved to be a great place to engage with a diverse portfolio of projects related to streaming. Today, we have working groups looking at everything from advertising, metadata, QoE, security, and obviously VR and 360-degree video. Eight years from our founding, we see real-world adoption of the specifications we created jointly as an industry, now deployed into production in service provider networks. As an organization, we are also working more closely with other groups, such as the Internet Engineering Task Force (IETF), and welcoming new members from across our industry to participate.

Ultimately, these specifications and standards are helping us all deliver on the promise of great streaming experiences. As we head into emerging areas such as edge computing, the foundations we have laid over the last eight years will enable us to accelerate that journey based on openness that benefits the entire ecosystem.

I wish I could share more about how we’re continuing to leverage this important SVA work in our ongoing development efforts, especially the SVA specifications around open APIs. We see an opportunity to take a unique approach to how industry standard APIs are exposed to developers, so they have more control, more flexibility, and more visibility in the content delivery part of their digital experiences. So, stay tuned to this blog for further updates when we can share them with you!