Home Analysis Verimatrix has a vision of one global Pay TV headend covering security...

Verimatrix has a vision of one global Pay TV headend covering security and data analytics

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Verimatrix has been outlining its ambitious vision to host a global headend at a secret but “extremely acceptable’ secure server farm somewhere in California that connects into regional datacenters and into individual Pay TV operator headends and then gives operators a number of opportunities: First, access global security threat monitoring and reaction services that take account of malicious activities spotted within the networks or devices of any one of the Verimatrix customers opting into the service; Second, fully outsource their security headend functions so that they are managed by Verimatrix, possibly in cooperation with partners like well-known multiscreen platform providers or systems integrators; Third, use the Verspective Intelligence Center to take advantage of a secure data gathering infrastructure that draws upon insights available via content security client software (on various devices from handhelds to set-top boxes) and plug in to third-party partner services that, over time, will be made available – such as network monitoring, audience analysis and content recommendation; Fourth, establish themselves as a trustworthy stakeholder in the ‘Internet of Things’ by ensuring that while they make use of data flowing from various devices within a consumer home, they keep that data totally secure and respect privacy.

All of this will become possible, according to Steve Oetegenn, President of Verimatrix, thanks to the new Verspective Intelligence Center that his company is establishing. This is the global hub with secure two-way connectivity into the security headend of any Verimatrix customer that wants to make use of it. Verspective is a key part of the new VCAS Ultra content security solution that the company announced at IBC 2014 and which will be deployed to the first customers this year. 

VCAS Ultra also provides support for UHD security (partly thanks to forensic watermarking) and makes it possible to virtualize the VCAS security functions within operator on-premise datacenters, ensuring that if you are virtualizing video processing functions like encoding the content security fits seamlessly into the new workflow. In this virtualized scenario, VCAS Ultra would also respond in an elastic fashion to changes in demand, just as virtualized encoders do.

Verspective Intelligence Center will pull together intelligence from all Verimatrix deployments worldwide, where customers opt-in. The initial benefits revolve around security headend management, as it will make it easier to upgrade and service content security functions with remote access into headends. The other big benefit, available to customers immediately, is improved security monitoring. As Oetegenn explains: “You have to deal with changing threat scenarios. Imagine if you were to detect [malicious] activity in some remote corner of a [Pay TV] system in Indonesia, we would be able to analyze that threat and proactively start to change things at our customers before that threat could spread to different operators. Our current customer base gets a huge benefit in terms of economies of scale.” 

Initially the security architecture at Verimatrix customers will change little – they will still have their own local headends and these can be connected into the Verspective Intelligence Center. But Oetegenn suggests: “It is not beyond the realms of possibility that when this model becomes prevalent, operators might want to outsource their security operations to a remote security headend managed by us or a Verimatrix partner.” He points to online video publishers (OVPs), OTT/multiscreen platform providers and existing systems integrator partners like Huawei and Alcatel-Lucent as potential partners in this endeavour.

Oetegenn acknowledges that some Pay TV operators will want to retain full control of their content security headend operations. But there are other operators who view content security as a non-core activity, in terms of its operation, he suggests, and given the increasing complexity of content security (partly because of the way the DRM environment keeps changing) and changing threat models they might want to relieve themselves of a headache and let someone else take care of it. “Some operators feel there are more efficient ways to do things moving forwards; they are the ones more likely to embrace this,” Oetegenn comments.

In the longer-term, this is not just about creating a globally connected security headend, though. Verimatrix has a vision that the Verspective Intelligence Center will play a wider role in secure data gathering and analysis, making the company a key player in the growing market for data analytics and, beyond that, the Internet of Things (which some people, most notably Cisco, prefer to call Internet of Everything as this phrase acknowledges that people, and not just devices and applications, will be part of the connected universe).

Oetegenn declares: “Verspective Intelligence Center is a very powerful solution for our operators and thinking about the future, when you have that kind of solution it becomes the largest Pay TV platform in the world because currently we have around 820 operator customers globally and that number is growing continuously and it will not be long before we have over 1,000 customers. We plan to provide the largest television platform in the world and give people highly secure access to that platform on an opt-in basis.

“Imagine what you can do with that. Previously you would have to go into each of those operators to install something and roll it out, including a customer [security] update. If you have this connectivity there are a myriad of things you can do going forwards. This is about more than content security; it fits with things like targeted advertising, network monitoring, recommendation engines, audience measurement, and IoT functions. And it is all possible in a highly secure way, compliant with all local laws on privacy and data storage.”

In short, Verimatrix reckons it can fulfill the role of gathering mission-critical data, securing that data and acting as the data aggregator who then works with partners to offer Pay TV customers the services that would make use of that data by analyzing it, like content recommendation or network and service assurance. Oetegenn emphasizes: “We are not setting up in competition with the recommendation engines and network monitoring companies. We see ourselves as the facilitator. The use of value-added services [that harness the data] would involve a deal between the operator and the third-party providers.”

This ambition shines a light on two of the big emerging trends in the television and telecoms industry: data analytics and the IoT/IoE. It also highlights how vendors in the Pay TV industry are starting to lay claim to these new market opportunities. Recent moves by Piksel (focusing on value-based analytics including viewer data) and ACCESS (using their embedded clients within the connected home environment to become a data aggregator, a notable by-product of its new Twine multiscreen management solution) are good examples. Cisco is an obvious example of a company that can provide device, household, network and enterprise level security for the IoE.

Oetegenn points out that the IoT ‘gold rush’ is beginning and he emphasizes the need to think about the security aspects. “There is a huge concern about that and it has not been addressed yet.” 

As the IoT market emerges, he sees Verimatrix taking the role of the security provider for any kind of sensitive data that flows over home and wide area networks and he rightly highlights the value of having client software in a wide number of devices and of having secure clients, especially.

Maybe we are going to see a battle among companies who have client software in devices to become the data gathering partners to service providers. What will differentiate them? According to Oetegenn, “You would want to use our client because ours is the secure client.” He is not limiting Verimatrix’s role to securing data coming out of entertainment devices like a set-top box or iPad, either. Verimatrix is already articulating a strategy to get clients embedded into a wider range of devices, like a heart monitor.

[Editor’s comment – There are bunch of reasons that we will want all kinds of personal data kept private in the IoT era but in this simple use-case, you may have hidden your 20-a-day cigarette habit from your health insurers, or maybe you are running for some kind of government office, where a weak heart would scare away voters! Whatever the data, and whatever the reason, we are going to need some kind of data security and maybe even personal rights management (setting our own rules on what can be seen and when, and by whom, across a whole range of situations). Content security companies already secure data and manage content rights so it is not a big stretch of the imagination to see them replicating that function in the IoT.]

Oetegenn offers a compelling example of where Verimatrix can play its part. “I don’t think people will feel very comfortable having in-home video monitoring if they think they could suddenly find themselves on YouTube!”

So the Verspective Intelligence Center is not just a connected hub for managing content security but the heart of Verimatrix’s ambitions to aggregate and secure more of the data that we care about – still acting as a partner to service providers.  

In terms of the immediate applications for Verspective Intelligence Center, Verimatrix currently provides security maintenance and monitoring services as part of the license fee when someone takes their software, so the global monitoring service that comes with Verspective will be bundled with VCAS Ultra. From 2016 VCAS Ultra (also known as VCAS 4.0) will be the only release of VCAS available to Verimatrix customers. The company expects that nearly all its customers will want the UHD support that VCAS Ultra contains. If not, then virtualization or Verspective Intelligence Center would the other reasons to upgrade. 

The regional datacenters that will form part of the Verspective Intelligence Center infrastructure are necessary to comply with privacy and data storage laws in some countries. As for the California master global headend, Oetegenn smiled but would not comment on whether it is buried in a mountainside somewhere. “We are not saying where the server farm is but it will be something extremely acceptable.”


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Interested in Pay TV and the IoT?

The Day One breakfast briefing at this year’s Connected TV Summit – The role of Pay TV in the Smart Home and Internet of Things – considers where the money is in ‘Smart Home’ services, whether someone can become the gateway brand for a myriad of connected life services and apps, and whether Pay TV operators can become the umbrella UEX for Smart Home services. Panellists will also be discussing how we secure the IoT from outside attack and who will protect us as individuals from the IoT when sensitive and private data is flowing freely. This [free to attend] session also considers the skillsets within the Pay TV ecosystem that could shape the IoT. You can read more details and register here.

Speakers are: 

Chair: Jordy Egging, CEO, TimeLabz
Christophe Rufin, Director, Cloud, TV & Entertainment Ecosystems, Orange
Dimitri Carbonnelle, Founder, Livosphere
Gonçalo Monteiro, IoE/IoT PayTV Senior Strategist
Steve Christian, SVP, Marketing, Verimatrix
Jon Carter, UK Head of Business Development, Connected Home,  Deutsche Telekom AG
Lionel Guicherd-Callin, Head of Products for Europe, Nest

Check out the session and register here.


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