Home Analysis Delivery Infrastructure VCAS Ultra is ready for UHD, SaaS and virtualized headends

VCAS Ultra is ready for UHD, SaaS and virtualized headends

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VCAS Ultra is the new generation of cardless content security from Verimatrix and while the obvious headline is that it works with the next generation of set-top boxes to support Ultra HD to the standards expected by MovieLabs (the technology consortium for the major studios), this is also the product that officially takes Verimatrix into the cloud. 

VCAS Ultra is designed to work on virtual machines and in virtualized clouds, mainly because crucial content protection functions like encryption and key management need to be located, architecturally if not literally, where encoding happens. We are already seeing encoding performed on virtual machines in on-premise or off-premise data centres. VCAS Ultra is designed so that it can fit seamlessly into the workflow of a virtualized encoding scenario and can respond in an elastic fashion to changes in demand, just as virtualized encoders do.

Steve Christian, VP Marketing at Verimatrix, stresses that the functionality of VCAS Ultra is the same whatever environment you operate within. “We have relationships with encoder makers who are enabling elastic encoder farms that are either partly or wholly cloud-based and we need to be part of those elastic encoding farms. We need to be part of the same deployment model,” he explains.

VCAS Ultra is also supported by new, flexible commercial models. Verimatrix has responded to the growth in SaaS providers, many of whom offer content owners or service providers a pay-as-you-grow approach to deploying multiscreen and online services. If SaaS providers are only taking their fees on a per-subscriber, per-month basis in a bid to reduce CapEx and therefore risk for their customers, they in turn benefit from paying out less upfront. Thus VCAS Ultra comes with terms that help SaaS providers to ensure that their costs match their revenues. 

Verimatrix is stressing that despite the functionality that it brings to the market, VCAS Ultra is not revolutionary. When it comes to UHD, for example, it is designed to provide another layer of content security within the existing unified VCAS security architecture. VCAS Ultra can protect the subset of the subscriber population that get UHD-capable STBs alongside the rest of the subscriber base using HD and SD services on ‘legacy’ set-top boxes.  

VCAS Ultra is a cardless solution that utilizes a hardware root of trust in the customer premise equipment and provides forensic watermarking, both of which are requirements in the MovieLabs specifications. Verimatrix believes these specifications, which could become the new benchmark for content protection on premium services, embrace security philosophies that it has long supported, and which characterize the existing VCAS solutions. These include a shift towards server-side security management rather than client-side management and the ability to authenticate devices at the time consumption happens, which leans towards two-way networks.

The individualization of the security solution (including the presence of forensic watermarking that can trace the source of content leaks) and the need for workable revocation and renewable capabilities, in case a solution gets broken, are other VCAS characteristics that become more important because of the MovieLabs specifications. 

For much of this year Verimatrix has been talking about the rise of the ‘Software Empowered Video Operator’ and, once again, the company believes that its technology is aligned with market requirements and trends. The combination of software-focused security and now virtualization illustrates the point, Steve Christian believes, especially the way VCAS solutions fit with the software headend propositions that ecosystem partners are offering. “Content security is connected pretty intensively to all the other parts of the overall video solution,” he stresses.

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