Mark Fisher on
5 min read
Executive Roundtable: Open Caching Goes Mainstream – Disney, BT, Verizon, Cisco, Qwilt
The Streaming Video Alliance hosted an executive roundtable featuring experts from Disney, BT, Verizon, Cisco and Qwilt. This one-hour discussion was filled with valuable information and insights into the latest developments in content delivery. I encourage you to listen to the full recording, but until you have the time, I’ve provided a distilled summary of the key points made by the speakers below.
I’ll do this in three parts and simply let the direct quotes from the speakers tell the story.
1 – Disney Streaming Services
First, let’s hear Disney’s perspective on where they are headed, their commitment to Open Caching, and how they see value in working with service providers directly to take advantage of Open Caching. We’ll hear from Michael Fay, VP Distribution Strategy, Disney Streaming Services.
Where is Disney Going?
“Disney is on a journey. And our journey takes us from one or two terabytes of content delivery to our subscribers, to a plan that might have us going to 200 terabits of content delivery…”
Distribution Strategy and Performance
“I feel really obligated to our customers to complement our distribution strategy by having the most robust routes to take our information directly to the end user. And really what I’m saying is there is a plan to enjoy a distribution of CDNs and potentially having a Netflix-like model and definitely have a way for Disney to enjoy an ISP deployment of a neutral and standardized distribution platform. So, our thesis is sound. We are looking for reasonable performance, meaning, if you’re not performing well, you’re not going to push Disney traffic. We’re looking for reasonable performance, like the CDNs give us and the open cache framework has been able to give us that reasonable performance.”
“We’re looking for an improved control of our content. I like the idea from the content operator’s perspective of moving our traffic to BT and letting BT handle that traffic to BT consumers. I like that a little bit more than uploading it to an agnostic mid-tier [Commercial CDN] and potentially having BT traffic delivered from Amsterdam.”
“Disney likes the idea of generating the right economics, because there is a commercial component of this. And while we go on this journey of zero terabits or one terabit, two, 200 terabytes of edge traffic, we need to control our costs.”
“And lastly, there’s this notion of flexibility. The relationship that we have with BT or the relationship that we have with Verizon, gives us the ability to, on a Tuesday, route traffic over the CDNs, and then on a Wednesday, route traffic over the open cache. And maybe when we have a UFC event at ESPN, we can select to have a myriad of open cache and CDNs. I like that flexibility.”
Open Caching – The Value of a Global Standardized Platform Across Service Providers/ISPs
“And one thing that we can’t do is Disney can’t have 75 ISPs having 75 different CDNs that have 75 different configs for how we onboard content from our mid-tiers to give us 75 different formats of APIs and reporting metrics for how they’re performing.”
Commitment to Open Caching
“We need some way to scale our business and we’re committed to the open cache initiative. We find that that’s the best way for us to put our bits out there and make sure that people are actually getting a consistent Disney experience.
“… our answer to how Netflix has deployed in so many countries, is built on an open cache standard.”
On ISPs as Partners
“… ISPs are great partners. Verizon is a great partner. Verizon wireless is a fantastic partner with Disney. And that transcends into subscriber growth and other things that are fantastic for our customers and for our content. So, open cache does other things, and maybe there are a lot of pundits and people on this webinar that are talking about the technology and there are other reasons that content owners might want to explore the benefits of putting the Disney bits on the Verizon network in support of a Verizon partnership…”
2 – Service Providers – BT and Verizon
Next, let’s hear from both BT and Verizon who are delivering Disney streams via Qwilt open caching today. Speakers are John Faria from BT and Jeff Budney from Verizon.
Why Open Caching?
“So when we have the chance to work with Qwilt and Cisco, we were really excited because there was a prospect of improving that quality of experience even more. And then given the COVID world we’re living in now and the record demand for high definition, video, and massive game files, having this solution in our network, it was a really exciting opportunity for us.
Really for us, it was all about thinking about our customers when they turn on the TV and watch the latest Disney Pixar movie and the highest definition without any worries about getting that buffering symbol and then they’re on the gaming side. Well, I’ve got teenage children. I know how important it is to get to download that new game really fast on the day it comes out. So it was really reassuring for us. As well on the network side, running the network that we’ve got, this gives us the capacity to offer really rock-solid performance to our millions of subscribers.”
Jeff at Verizon >
“… having that open interface which is why it’s really important for Verizon and other carriers are deploying the same technology, right? It makes it easier to integrate and actually bring the content.
You build the field, you have to get the players there. But having an open standard and architecture set up by the Streaming Video Alliance is really the way to go.”
On Open Caching Performance
Jeff at Verizon >
“… the first thing I wanted to say was, hey, this stuff works, and it works really well. I think we have more to see as we do more testing on our network. But through this year, we’ve been able to put what we consider as a tier one carrier, real traffic on the network, through this system, and we’ve seen it perform and we’ve seen it live up to what we’re expecting and I think we had high expectations to start with. So I’ve been really pleased with what we’ve been able to do – live customers, real traffic, things that people would notice if it wasn’t working well. And we’ve sailed through that.”
John at BT >
“And then given the great metrics we see demonstrable metrics hoping that this can continue to grow. And the more content providers will get involved.”
Open Caching and Content Delivery Capacity
Jeff at Verizon >
“How do you have the capacity to CDN A on Monday and then the capacity to CDN B on Friday and be able to give the best experience to all those eyeballs on your network – open caching solves that problem because you have the capacity in place. And you’re able to meet those peaks without having to chase your interconnect around and battle with the rest of the internet.”
Why Partner with Qwilt?
John at BT >
“You could have really just built something yourself but obviously that’s when you start talking about wanting to get something with really strong partners and strong technology behind it, it made much more sense to form that relationship. At BT we have huge investment in research and innovation and we do develop a lot of our own new technologies, but at the same time we recognize that sometimes it’s better to partner with people who really know their stuff. And we can work close. I mean, we’re going back to what we were talking about earlier in terms of what Michael [Disney] was saying about getting closest to the edge and how can we take what we have today and make it even better?
We’re doing that alongside our deployment. We’re also doing some research work with the guys at Qwilt on how we can get more efficiency if we get even closer to the customer and seeing what that looks like. So, there’s a lot of research and innovation we can still bring to bear while working with Qwilt.”
3 – Cisco and Qwilt
Finally, let’s hear from both Cisco and Qwilt as Theo Tzevelekis and Alon Maor describe how they work with Service Providers and how the Cisco/Qwilt partnership is accelerating deployments.
How Open Caching is the Ideal Content Delivery Solution for Service Providers
Theo at Cisco >
“If we think about the ecosystem and the value chain of content delivery, and we look at what has been available to date the two macro models, if you like, have been optimized for one part of the ecosystem, not the other.
What I mean by that is either you have the homegrown CDNs inside that carriers develop that allow them to have control, customization, and ownership of that content delivery. But they are anathema to Michael [Disney] because he doesn’t have the people to onboard them. Or, on the flip side, you have the established global players who are awesome for Michael, because he can integrate just once with them, but they are black boxes to carriers who then have limited visibility.
They cannot optimize. They are basically reactive to what’s happening on their network. And open caching is the way that we see strikes the right balance between those two worlds, where it is a global platform that caters to Michael’s needs, but it is also the SP’s CDN in the sense that they get to decide where to deploy it, how much capacity they want to build. They get to control what content goes on there. They get to understand the traffic patterns. And we believe that is really the value that open caching brings is – that it really caters to the needs of both sides of that equation. And again, this is where we saw a lot of things of value in open caching, because again, this allows us to strengthen our relationships with carriers and help them be successful.”
On the Acceleration Due to the Cisco/Qwilt Partnership
Alon at Qwilt >
“Now, through the point of inflection that we are experiencing and the partnership with Cisco in British Telecom, it was probably six to nine months of the project from the point we started the design that led to a full network deployment. And I think that the deployment itself took maybe six weeks in other carriers that we are deploying with right now or planning.
We see project cycles for partnership taking three to six months. And that’s thanks to the maturity of the specs, the products, and the partnership with Cisco, et cetera. So, it’s really great to see that and I think that it should give a lot of confidence to other carriers and content providers to realize we are getting to this point.”
On the Power of Streaming Ecosystem Collaboration
Alon at Qwilt >
“ I think that everyone in this room today is part of the leadership driving for early adoption of Open Caching. And I think that beyond the specifications, if we believe that this is the right architecture – and we do – we need to have the optimism and the leadership to drive our organization to get to that end result. And everyone across this team has been doing that within their organization. And you see the results and this is still very early and the results are encouraging as Jeff and Michael are saying, but I’m very excited about the future ahead because I see that when you’re doing something right, and you bring together an entire ecosystem, eventually you’re able to drive to the right architecture. And I’m very grateful for everyone pushing forward for that.”
Qwilt has been dedicated to the development and deployment of open caching for several years, working across the streaming ecosystem to make this new business model for content delivery a reality. I hope through this summary you’ll gain a sense for the commitment of our partners and the industry to the new architecture and business model that open caching brings to make streaming better for everyone.
For additional details, I encourage you to read this recap from Jeff Baumgartner at Light Reading > Disney gets behind open cache tech for streaming.