No television operator or video streaming service provider wants to be responsible for a news headline like: “Blackout during Super Bowl Upsets Millions of Fans.”
But the truth is, no matter how much you prepare, outages can happen. Take for example the recent outage that AWS experienced. The customers that run all their services with the same cloud provider were down with no other option than wait for AWS to get things up and running again.
With every successful streaming and video delivery service, having a clear video service continuity and disaster recovery strategy can help prevent and resolve service failure, faster. Let's look at your options for video service continuity and how modern and flexible strategies such as cloud disaster recovery services can help you be proactive about the goal of zero downtime.
What is Video Disaster Recovery?
Video disaster recovery is a backup system that will instantly take over when a failure occurs on the main source.
The combination of both the live system and the backup ensure that your service has high uptime with a more seamless experience for your viewers if ever an issue should arise. Disaster recovery is an approach to ensure greater service continuity and can apply in multiple situations:
- Video playout
- Video delivery over broadcast for cable DTH, DTT, and IPTV and OTT networks
- Live sports streaming or other live events and news
What Causes a Video Streaming Service to Fail?
There are generally two types of failures that can occur that would cause services disruption for video delivery.
- Catastrophic: If the primary broadcast site or platform goes down due to a physical incident, such as a fire, flooding, terrorist attack, geopolitical incident or earthquake, this type of failure is categorized as a catastrophic failure.
- Major: When there are multiple issues within the primary fault domain, this type of failure is categorized as a major failure. Major failures of streaming services could be caused by a security breach; an upgrade going wrong; cascading bugs in your software; something simple like a technician making a mistake and forgetting to plug in a cable; or when a main feed goes down and a UPS does not start up, etc.
These types of service failures are not something you can predict, and they can result in downtime that spans weeks or even months unless there is a video disaster recovery plan in place.
Choosing a Disaster Recovery Solution for Video Streaming Workflows
1. Duplicate video processing and delivery infrastructures
The traditional approach to disaster recovery is to replicate the main infrastructure, such as the appliances on-premise or software running on a private cloud. You are essentially duplicating the headend with additional receiver/decoders, off-air receivers, encoders, transcoders, rate shapers, channel modulators, channel processors and channel signals.
This backup infrastructure must then be linked to all of the other elements in the media processing and delivery ecosystem: live and file-based video sources, DRM, CAS, CMS, and CDN partners. The backup must also be scalable to handle shifts in consumer demand and to accommodate for your biggest channel lineup, or the maximum number of simultaneous subscribers.
A duplicate infrastructure requires regular maintenance and updates and needs to be monitored by dedicated personnel, 24/7. The cost of ownership of the entire system grows as more hardware and resources are added. That comes at a high cost when you have to cover the expenses for both the main and the backup infrastructure.
2. Disaster recovery as a service (DRaaS)
Disaster recovery as a service (DRaaS) is becoming a very popular approach for many video streaming and service providers. Disaster recovery as service, a cloud disaster recovery service, provides all the same capabilities as an on-premise system, but without the added costs and hassle of managing a data center.
Instead, your services are hosted for you, in the cloud. You can have one, some, or all your video services ready to launch, on standby. If a failure occurs, you just spin-up the backup service, or services, as needed. Then, you just turn them down when your main is back up and running.
It is the cost-effectiveness, scalability and resiliency of video DRaaS which has attracted cable TV operators (that provide video services), as well as OTT service providers and broadcasters. This is especially true for high-revenue channels -- live sports, major live events, or UHD channels -- that need guaranteed uptime.
How Does a Video DRaaS Work for Video Providers?
The DRaaS provider supplies the entire system design, configuration, setup and all the equipment needed to feed the video content to deliver into the cloud. Then that content is linked to all of the TV provider’s sources. Sources can be from:
- Live feeds
- Linear TV
- Digital rights management (DRM) systems
- VOD files
- Other networks
- And more.
Benefits of Disaster Recovery as a Cloud Service
- Simplicity: Disaster recovery as a service makes robust disaster recovery systems accessible to a wider range of TV providers. It’s fast to launch a backup and easy to deploy since the DRaaS provider handles all the hardware.
- Lower TCO: TV operators and streaming providers can subscribe to a disaster recovery service and benefit from a reliable disaster recovery system, without the major upfront investment. Also, you only pay for the service when it’s used, so that could translate to just a few hours or days versus annual maintenance, monitoring and upgrades.
- Optimized testing: Some providers even use video disaster recovery infrastructure for regular testing, called fire drills. These tests are used to prove the system for when an actual service failure or outage occurs. For example, the TV operator could pay for a few hours of fire drills per month to test uptime.
- Service continuity: Back up your premium channels so your highest paying subscribers get the high-end experience you want to provide. You can even use a multi-cloud approach leveraging different cloud providers to ensure high uptime.
- Quality of experience: Use the backup to ensure availability during live events, like a major championship sporting event, or for your revenue driving UHD HRD services.
Disaster Recovery Services for Video Delivery are Essential
A backup on-premise infrastructure provides high availability but is costly to create and maintain. With a video DRaaS approach, operators can subscribe to a cloud service and activate or shut down the backup service as needed. Harmonic is a leading provider of video streaming platforms for the most demanding and complex media processing and delivery workflows, including disaster recovery.
Do you have a video disaster recovery solution? Which one are you using now? Contact us to learn more about our video streaming solutions. We’re happy to answer any of your questions.