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Test & Measurement

Kasenna Leads IPTV Test Charge

The start of the NAB2007 show in Las Vegas has fueled an outpouring of IPTV test-and-measurement announcements, including news of a telco TV test bed in the south of France and new test tools from IneoQuest Technologies Inc. and Pixelmetrix Corp.

Kasenna claims IPTV milestone
Video systems vendor Kasenna has developed an IPTV test-bed with partners HP Inc. (NYSE: HPQ) and Intel Corp. (Nasdaq: INTC) intended to prove to service providers that telco TV environments can scale to more than 1 million users with a relatively small deployment of service delivery and support systems. (See Vendors Test IPTV Setup.)

Kasenna, which sells video servers and IPTV middleware, is already involved as a video server supplier for a number of live IPTV deployments and has signed up with some big-name partners in the telco TV world. (See Kasenna Deployed in Russia, Kasenna Powers Jazztel, Cavalier Picks Kasenna, and Ericsson Brings the IPTV.)

Now, though, it's looking to position itself as a credible alternative to Microsoft Corp. (Nasdaq: MSFT) as a supplier of an IPTV middleware system that can be deployed by Tier 1 carriers and scale efficiently as subscriber numbers grow to seven figures, as they are set to do in the next few years. Orange (NYSE: FTE), for example, already has 600,000 IPTV customers, while PCCW Ltd. (NYSE: PCW; Hong Kong: 0008) in Hong Kong has 700,000. (See Europe to Dominate IPTV Growth.)

The battle to win the attention of major operators among IPTV middleware players is intense, as vendors such as Kudelski Group , Espial Group Inc. , Dreampark AB , NDS Ltd. , and others attempt to join the chasing pack that includes the likes of Orca Interactive Ltd. , Nokia Networks (Myrio), Thomson S.A. (NYSE: TMS; Euronext Paris: 18453), Minerva Networks Inc. , and UTStarcom Inc. (Nasdaq: UTSI). (See Who Makes What: IP Video Systems.) Microsoft, along with its partner Alcatel-Lucent (NYSE: ALU), remains the company to beat out for the big deals. (See Microsoft IPTV Hits Spain, DT Plans M&A, IPTV Push, Alcatel-Lucent Unveils IPTV Strategy, and Microsoft Adds Three for IPTV.)

So Kasenna has set up a simulated IPTV test network in HP's Grenoble, France, labs to show how, under certain conditions, its middleware and video server software can support the video-over-broadband needs of 1 million subscribers with just five HP ProLiant servers using Intel Dual-Core Xeon processors.

Of course that means Kasenna has created a set of criteria, such as the number of customers making on-network requests via their set-top boxes (STBs), the nature of those requests, and related network conditions, that will probably never match an exact carrier scenario.

For example, the test-bed assumes that for every 200,000 subscribers that are using a video service, there is a 60 percent concurrency rate for active set-top box use. That means, only 120,000 of the 200,000 are using a service that is making service requests of the network, while the remainder are using services such as STB-based PVR (personal video recorder) that aren't utilizing network resources, a user profile that's typical of a Friday or Saturday evening, according to Kasenna.

"We think that's a reasonable profile based on our experience," says Allan Linder, the vendor's spokesman.

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digits 12/5/2012 | 3:10:18 PM
re: Kasenna Leads IPTV Test Charge It may be a step forward in terms of providing pointers towards scalability, but what are the real world lessons that can be learned?

Carriers might be able to go to HP's lab and input their own metrics, but it's still a test network that's running Kasenna software *only* on HP servers - a limited concept.

What we need is an industry bakeoff -- multiple IPTV middleware systems under the same network and user conditions. If anyone had the time, resources, and money to do that, I wonder how many of the middleware vendors would participate?
:-)

Ray
cross 12/5/2012 | 3:10:11 PM
re: Kasenna Leads IPTV Test Charge Ray,

Good point. As long as the HP test network involves just Kasenna middleware, it will not help much in resolving the scalability myth around IPTV and VoD middlewware/headend quipment.

I believe that most middleware vendors have not reached the user scalability mentioned in this announcement yet. In part this is due to the fact that most real IPTV networks have by far less than a million subscribers today so middleware vendors prioritize other issues first. I guess only very few middleware vendors would dare to participate in a neutral and public test now, as there is much to lose.

On a technical note: Scalability of generic IP TV (TV broadcast streams distributed via IP multicast) is usually a no-brainer because the network infrastructure deals with replication and subscriber switching. Whether an IPTV channel is viewed by a single or a million subscribers does not make any difference for the headend.

It gets tricky only when middleware vendors implement some unicast helper streams to speed up channel changing time and other aspects of the subscriber management. As soon as unicast comes into play, the middleware needs to handle each subscriber individually. To my knowledge, this is one of the biggest scalability concerns to IPTV headends and the primary reason why the Microsoft IPTV solution is said not to be easily scalable.

Best regards,
Carsten Rossenhoevel
EANTC (European Advanced Networking Test Center)

digits 12/5/2012 | 3:10:10 PM
re: Kasenna Leads IPTV Test Charge Carsten

Great answer!!

And unicaast is pretty much unavoidable when it comes to carrier video marketing strategies as that's where the most incremental revenue is to had, so it's going to affect each and every IPTV service provider.

Still, I think Kasenna has at least put itself out there and with reputable partners. And if it delivers on its transparency promises, then it at least gives something for the industry to work iwth, albeit in a single middleware vendor environment.

Ray


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