With more video than ever being watched, whether it is on our mobile devices, connected TVs or Virtual Reality headsets, there is no question that the way we consume content has changed. Consumer expectations have never been so high. They don’t care how the video travels to them – streamed or broadcast – they just expect it to work, and to work well. And that applies to all devices used. For organisations delivering that user experience, testing and monitoring has never been so important.
As we shift to IP, there is the opportunity to do amazing things with video services: personalised UIs, tailored content recommendations, and TV Everywhere. With this innovation comes added pressure on Video Development and Operation teams to deliver and validate more.
The demand to do more, to accelerate release cycles, has driven video organisations to focus on software, and modern software delivery approaches. This has seen the arrival of concepts from ‘born on the web’ companies such as Continuous Delivery and DevOps, resulting in an increased need for teams to work cross-functionally. The ultimate goal is to deliver new services to market, faster with accelerated release cycles and improved service quality.
Regardless, putting the consumer at the heart of any testing and monitoring strategy is critical as success is defined by the experience they have. As such, there is a fundamental need to test through the users’ eyes, taking into account the actual end user Quality of Experience (QoE) independently of the underlying architecture.
However, the transition to IP brings new challenges. To systematically measure performance and availability there are aspects of a testing and monitoring environment that need to be aware of the hybrid infrastructure underneath.
By design, IP networks are a shared medium offering an assembly of services with a number of touchpoints. With DVB the distribution was fixed, unlike IP, so there are significant differences when it comes to testing. As operators are transitioning, most networks today are hybrid so there is a need for hybrid monitoring.
The Cloud, of course, is playing more of a role in testing and monitoring as it provides greater accessibility, additional elasticity and scalability. The Cloud is not the single answer to success though, it is all about applying the most relevant testing at the most appropriate time and in a way that is flexible enough to work within virtual and real-world environments.
Video companies are adapting quickly to the changing demands IP brings to ensure the customer is satisfied, but there is still a long road ahead as change continues to gather pace and richer content and new technology such as Augmented Reality requires experiential, rather than purely functional testing. We are addressing these by blending crowdsourcing of testing talent with other innovations such as automation and artificial intelligence.
We expect that in 2017 and the coming years, video operators to continue the trend of increased investment in testing and monitoring, and will put this at the core of their service to ensure a seamless QoE across all devices.