Unchanged for nearly 40 years, the world of television is being digitized in front of our eyes. Once exclusively worshipped within the hallowed ground of our living rooms, today television has broken free of the traditional family TV set. No longer are we required to watch what is programmed — instead, we watch what we want to, whenever, wherever and on whichever device we choose. This fundamental shift in distribution and consumption has been made possible through innovations in video workflow and a paradigm shift in the philosophy of computing.
Piksel — the world’s largest independent provider of video solutions — is at the forefront of this transformation. The company’s deep experience in delivering digital video for over a decade, gave it a unique perspective on how video would be delivered in the future. Piksel foresaw that as the online video market matured into the mid and late 2010s, building a unique and bespoke solution every time simply wasn’t a viable solution. At the same time, there was also the understanding that past successes of the company had come from the fact that the company didn’t have a series of monolithic products that were rigidly implemented and deployed.
Drive toward modularity
In eschewing the monolithic approach to building video platforms Piksel adopted a modular way of thinking — offering discrete features as packaged solutions that could be mixed and combined to create the particular type of solution the customer was hankering for. This is especially relevant in a market undergoing such a rapid evolution that agility and flexibility become critical for success.
Thus, the Piksel Palette, a micro-services architecture (MSA) that simplifies the complexity of the video workflow, was born. Unveiled in 2014, the Palette uses a modular, cloud-based approach combined with a services-orientated architecture framework. This gives customers the freedom to choose the functionality they need — tailoring the solution to match their exact requirements — while speeding time to market and providing the kind of versatility that the online video market requires.
The value of a micro-services architecture and the Piksel Palette
Piksel’s entire product portfolio is now built using the Palette framework, the only commercially viable micro-services based video platform in the world.
The MSA approach is based on many fine-grained, lightweight services and follows what is called “The single responsibility principle.” An easy way to visualize it is to think of the monolithic approach as a train: one engine driving everything in a single direction on a single track. The MSA method is like a fleet of cars; each has their own engine, driving across a number of lanes, all going in the direction and speed they need to.
One of the guiding principles of the MSA approach is that each service is focused on a particular set of capabilities, with the ultimate goal being to break down the overall functionality into as small a service as is reasonable. This allows the services to operate and evolve independently; upgrades and fixes may be carried out as necessary, and verified and released on their own schedule, often several times a day through continuous and repeatable delivery. In addition, the architecture is built on the understanding that these services will fail and are engineered to tolerate and recover from such failures. Best in class monitoring is vital for the MSA to ensure that the right actions are undertaken to maintain overall good health.
The future of online video
As the online video market continues to evolve and influence the broadcast industry, there will be a further drive to find the best, most agile ways of meeting customer demand and getting to market sooner and more cost-effectively. Moving into the 2020s, the issue of viewer engagement — attracting and keeping audiences — will become an increasing challenge. This is where technology can continue to make a difference with new developments like the use of machine learning, richer metadata and behavioral recommendations can provide content creators with valuable insights into viewing behavior and help deliver truly personalized experiences. Underscored by a versatile platform such as the Palette, the possibilities for enhanced viewer engagement are almost endless.