In conversation with Wiser Technology: Developing and hosting successful OTT streaming solutions

Developing and hosting successful OTT streaming solutions

When we think of streaming services, most people’s minds go straight to one thing - entertainment. While this is certainly a big part of the industry, there’s far more to the streaming landscape than first meets the eye.

One company that perfectly demonstrates this is Wiser Technology (formerly Bianor Services), an end-to-end software service partner with a vast portfolio of services. Everything from creating video streaming apps and OTT platforms for digital service providers, to engineering advanced communication and data transfer solutions for the aerospace and defense sectors.

We sat down for a chat with Ivan Dimitrov, Chief People Officer of Wiser Technology, and our in-house streaming specialist Lukas Navickas to talk about their diverse range of offerings. We also discussed taking an agnostic approach to infrastructure, and some of the latest market infrastructure trends shaping the industry – from cost-optimization to the impact of AI.

Introducing Wiser Technology  

Wiser Technology works in partnership with businesses and institutions from across the civil and defense sectors.

The civil branch covers the migration of infrastructure, business analysis and consultancy, and custom software development of full Internet Protocol Television (IPTV) and over-the-top (OTT) solutions. And for those that need it, Wiser Technology also manage the integration of third-party platforms, quality assurance, front-end applications, maintenance, and technical support.

“Basically, if anyone wants to build their own proprietary streaming solution or to integrate a ready-made streaming solution, we can do that and customize it to the needs of the customer,” explains Ivan.

The defense branch specializes in data processing, communications protocols, system engineering, and AI solutions designed to detect cyber threats.

“Here, a major priority is the interoperability with NATO,” furthers Ivan. “The way that US and European systems work together is crucial”.       

From building full-stack streaming platforms for national broadcasters to staving off potential cyber threats, Wiser Technology’s portfolio is vast and complex. And it means sourcing infrastructure solutions that will help their customers maintain optimum coverage is essential. 

Taking an agnostic approach

Wiser Technology will sometimes take on the sourcing and provisioning of infrastructure for its customers. “We are there to help the customers with this, so they don’t have to deal with the complexity,” said Ivan.

“The biggest challenge tends to be around limited infrastructure scalability. It causes streaming bottlenecks during demand spikes, preventing viewers from accessing content when interest is high during events or new releases.

“Then there’s insufficient global coverage through CDNs with buffering and lag in less optimal locations, resulting in poor viewer experiences and limiting audience reach”.

To meet these scalability and coverage requirements, historically, Wiser Technology has favored a mostly cloud-based approach.

However, Wiser Technology remains ultimately ‘infrastructure agnostic’, and the type of infrastructure provisioned for each project is based on the individual needs of the customer.

“If there is an existing system, we start with an analysis of the current state. Then, if necessary, we plan its migration to provide the best solution for the customer,” furthers Ivan.

“In defense, for example, I believe we will start having more and more on-premises needs. And in some cases, customers are leveraging hybrid infrastructure models. They maintain some legacy on-premises environments for specific workloads while shifting other applications to the public cloud”.

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“Operators are realizing that they need to be more agnostic when it comes to infrastructure.”

Are broadcasters re-evaluating?

This agnostic approach to infrastructure is something that’s becoming more of a priority for streaming platforms as they start to re-evaluate their stance on infrastructure, as Lukas explains:

“Many platform operators naturally moved from on-prem to hyperscale cloud environments, especially after the Covid-19 pandemic when viewership spiked. Operators needed quick, scalable, infrastructure solutions and didn’t have time to evaluate other factors”. 

But as the demands on broadcasters and content owners continue to increase, there’s been a noticeable shift. Operators are looking for ways to simultaneously reduce infrastructure costs and scale.

“Operators are realizing that they need to be more agnostic when it comes to infrastructure. They didn’t build their platforms in an independent fashion, resulting in price hikes and over reliance on a single solution,” furthers Lukas.  

 “Now we’re hearing a lot of platforms concerned about costs. They set up these great infrastructure stacks, but their viewership is starting to plateau, and they’re having to consider the tradeoff. It’s no longer just about how quickly they can scale.

“In these cases, I encourage operators to consider a hybrid infrastructure strategy - with bare metal hosting using dedicated servers for that baseline of consistent viewership and cloud for unexpected spikes. Because the cost-benefit does kick in and, in some cases, customers can cut spending by up to 40%”.

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“In some cases, customers are leveraging hybrid infrastructure models. They maintain some legacy on-premises environments for specific workloads while shifting other applications to the public cloud.”

What about the impact of AI? 

Artificial intelligence might be a buzzword right now but, from an infrastructure perspective, the potential impact of AI shouldn’t be ignored. With increased adoption of GPUs (Graphics Processing Units) more platforms will be forced to re-evaluate their hosting decisions.

“AI is a heavy consumer of hardware and processing power, so we might see a shift because of that,” said Ivan.

Lukas agrees. “GPUs are very expensive, so it makes more financial sense to go on-prem or use a data center provider that will buy the hardware and lease it back to you”.

“Now, we are seeing a similar trend when it comes to transcoding. Content owners are looking at replacing GPUs with ASIC cards which are specifically designed for transcoding. But these cards aren’t readily available in hyperscale cloud deployments like AWS or Azure”. 

But it’s still early days for AI adoption in the streaming industry – which to date has remained relatively slow paced and high-level.

“Big organizations are still a bit careful on this topic. Particularly because of data privacy and confidentiality – they don’t want to expose information to their competitors,” shared Ivan.

“They’re starting to live with it, but cautiously. For instance, one of our customers in satellite TV was quite conservative when talking about AI tools, but we eventually ended up using some models that allowed us to keep their data private”.

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“GPUs are very expensive, so it makes more financial sense to go on-prem or use a data center provider that will buy the hardware and lease it back to you.”

A future fit for a partnership 

For Wiser Technology, sourcing reliable, low-latency streaming infrastructure for their customers is an integral part of delivering quality services. Working with such a broad range of platforms means there’s no one-size-fits-all solution. One customer might need their platform hosted in hyperscale cloud, another might benefit from dedicated servers or a hybrid architecture.

Looking to the future, Wiser Technology is excited to explore new avenues. Starting with a new partnership alongside – so that when projects arise that could benefit from a bare metal or hybrid architecture, Wiser Technology already has a trusted vendor to lean on. 

If you’re an operator looking for a software layer, get in touch with Wiser Technology or contact a member of our team to learn more about our bespoke streaming server solutions.


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