Online services have become an integral part of consumer culture. Customers want instant reach to the companies they buy from, and adoption of digital advances in retail, music and banking confirm that customers yearn for more advanced ways of interaction. Next in line to digitise is the media and entertainment industry, hoping that 'if you build it, they will come', as once declared by The Fields of Dreams.
The introduction of broadband lead to a demand in online streaming services. Platforms like Netflix, BBC iPlayer, and Amazon Prime Video are now used by millions every day. For example, BBC received a record three billion programme requests during 2013, and this is only a relative drop in the ocean for all content being viewed around the world. Netflix has over 60 million users globally and this number is to grow significantly with the EU directive trying to reduce barriers to stream content.
This has put pressure on broadcasters who need to ensure their platforms can cope with the vast amount of requests they receive every day, and to have technology in place to support future needs. It is imperative that media organisations have a robust solution in place to process all requests efficiently on their databases and applications. This feat is all the more remarkable considering the amount of content available for customers to stream.
Another significant component in the consumption of content is user experience, and enterprises like Netflix are not sparing expenses. Personalised viewing suggestions, offering a trove of popular content, have set this service apart in providing a global, on-demand streaming service.
With exponential growth of customers, companies will also face added pressures, particularly regarding the management and storage of data. Netflix recently revamped the architectural foundation its service is built on to offer users a better viewing experience. It now has the ability to handle the vast amounts of requests made for content while still offering a seamless experience. It seems its rival services are aiming to deliver high quality content too.
Open-source and streaming
Online services providers currently suffer a lot of heartache to reach the end goal of frictionless customer experience. With the need to scale quickly, broadcasters are moving towards using open-source. Open-source used to be a term many companies associate with insecurity, in-fighting and lack of guarantees from the providers of the software, but that landscape has changed significantly.
Open-source continues to be a growing trend among businesses, not only for the fact that it's cost effective, but also because its product development cycles move at broadband speeds. Innovations are happening on a daily basis, because of the army of talented engineers working to improve their products. It’s also, arguably, more secure, with many eyes making quick work of finding any bugs or faults in the code.
Take Europe’s largest broadcasting organisation, EBU, which is a great example of a business which uses open-source for its backend media platforms. This will enable the entire system to quickly scale to handle spikes in traffic, ultimately avoiding costly downtime, and a loss in revenue. Automated management software available can lead to further benefits to the bottom line, as IT operation teams do not need to hire specialised staff for administrative housekeeping duties.
A bright future for streaming
The future looks bright for consumers considering the fact that competition is rife among providers of streaming services. The BBC and the EU are looking to allow expats and holidaymakers to access content around the world, which is a boost for those who miss home. As media companies expand to new markets, problems may occur if they do not have resilient technical solutions in place to support the growth in customer demand.
With strong technology to support their databases and applications, they could thrive in a world where content on-demand is becoming the way people consume. The summer holidays are coming and IT professionals deserve their time to relax; the automation of database management will certainly make their lives easier.
Vinay Joosery, CEO, Severalnines