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23 November 2017

AWS joins Streaming Video Alliance, driving standards collaboration

Nine months after we first heard that Amazon was poised to join the Streaming Video Alliance, the firm has finally put pen to paper by signing up its AWS cloud technology arm. Members don’t come much bigger than AWS, and the latest addition is a huge boost for promoting technical collaboration across the OTT video industry.

With Netflix now relying heavily on AWS infrastructure as well as investing R&D dollars in its own streaming technologies, we would not be surprised to see the world’s largest streaming company become the next significant member of the Alliance. However, despite the Streaming Video Alliance boasting some major members, it is less common for giant companies or service providers to join groups pushing for open standards, as they generally want to keep ownership of their own ecosystems.

Specifically what AWS is bringing to the table has unfortunately not been revealed, but the potential to use its massive web infrastructure as a test bed for the development of technologies including open caching, which Alliance co-founder Qwilt specializes in, will serve as a significant learning curve for the Streaming Video Alliance. AWS said it is seeking some additional details on the project and we will update this upon hearing back.

The unrivaled scalability of AWS will give Alliance members some insights into what is required to support rapidly growing streaming audiences, while investigating different delivery methods including IP Multicast, UDP vs. TCP and LTE Broadcast.

The Alliance aims to improve the efficiency of OTT video streaming through guidelines and technical specifications, covering multiple aspects including the critical CDN stage of the content life cycle, by implementing technologies such as open APIs for content and CDN providers, plus Common Compute and Storage resources for delivering content to the end user across shorter distances, reducing packet loss. It also has working groups digging into the areas of analytics, architecture, interoperability, management, monetization, playback and security.

As well as the vendor community of the Streaming Video Alliance which are set to benefit from AWS’ influence, the Alliance also boasts some big service provider names, including Comcast, Verizon, Liberty Global, Charter Communications, Sky and NBCUniversal.

The Streaming Video Alliance, founded in 2014, is a newer entrant to a cluttered field of TV standards bodies which already includes the ITU, EBU, DVB, SMPTE, and MPEG. The Alliance for IP Media Solution only entered the fray in December 2015, to promote adoption of standards for the broadcast and media industry as it migrates from SDI to IP.

Qwilt told Faultline Online Reporter earlier this year that it was due to commence phase 2 of its trials to create an open caching standard, using the recently approved Open Caching Request Routing and HTTPS Delegation technical specification, but we were unable to receive an update on the trial’s progress. Phase 1 was completed back in February, which involved CDN providers Limelight Networks, Level 3 and Verizon’s EdgeCast, testing the specification on both live and VoD content, with additional involvement from MLBAM Tech, Yahoo and Viacom. It may have delayed the commencement of phase 2 as it waited for AWS to jump on board.

Streaming Video Alliance executive director Jason Thibeault said, “The new dynamics of OTT are radically disrupting the media landscape across the globe, and we need to remember that the OTT market and online video are still very young when compared with television. The industry collaboration and unification that the alliance provides its members is key to solving some of the industry’s biggest obstacles in the proliferation of OTT TV viewing. From the very beginning of the alliance, OTT companies have been part of the conversation, and we’re excited to continue expanding the OTT expertise and participation inside of the alliance.”

An AWS spokesperson said, “AWS is committed to supporting content programmers’ advanced internet video services and to enhancing online video experiences for consumers. Joining the Alliance connects us with some of the best minds in the industry which helps drive interoperability of video streaming solutions and establishes best practices as the progression toward software- and cloud-based video infrastructures accelerates.”

The full list of current Streaming Video Alliance members is: AWS, Adobe, Anevia, Arris, Ateme, Cedexis, CenturyLink, Charter Communications, Ciena, Cisco, Comcast, Concurrent, Conviva, Digital Element, Dolby, Edgeware, Encompass TV, Ericsson, Espial Group, FriendMTS, Fox Networks, Friends MTS, Harmonic, Hughes Satellite Systems, IBM, IneoQuest, Intel, Interra Systems, Irdeto, Level 3 Communications, Liberty Global, Limelight Networks, Massive Interactive, MediaMelon, MLBAM, Mobolize, NBCUniversal, NCTA, NeuLion, Nexguard, Nice People at Work, Nokia, OwnZones, Qwilt, Sinclair Broadcast Group, Sky, SSIMWave, Telecom Italia, THX, Verimatrix, Verizon, Viacom, ViaPlay, ViaSat, Viavi, Western Digital  and Wowza Media Systems.