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MediaKind CTO: Adding Agility Will Shorten 'Feedback Loop' With Customers

Jeff Baumgartner
11/22/2019

Agile, a model based on iterative changes and small, quick releases, is table stakes for any software company. It's just how things get done these days as the older "waterfall" project management process, which is much more linear in nature, falls increasingly by the wayside.

MediaKind, the video software and services specialist now owned 51% by One Equity Partners and 49% by Ericsson, leans heavily on the Agile process internally. But it has work underway to weave that model into its day-to-day interactions with customers.

Allen Broome

"We're starting to kick off initiatives with our customers to figure out ways that we can work more efficiently with them, and work in more of a complete end-to-end agile continuous integration model with our customers," said Allen Broome, MediaKind's recently named chief technology officer. "We want to be Agile in the full model where we're not just Agile from software development and then we go into this waterfall release process with our customers."

Broome, who was consulting with MediaKind and other companies prior to the CTO appointment, most recently was VP of cloud engineering at Comcast Cable and a member of the company's VIPER (Video IP Engineering & Research) team. In that post, he helped the operator develop its managed IP video streaming platform for its X1 video service and the addition of features and capabilities such as a cloud DVR. Notably, Comcast, now a software company in its own right, was among the first US cable operators to broadly adopt the Agile model.

Among his initial key focuses at MediaKind, Broome hopes to tightly link this Agile methodology to MediaKind customers in a way that results in the more rapid spinning-up and deployment of new features and capabilities.

"Coming from the operator side, you end up working with a vendor and there are these long feedback cycles where a vendor releases a product, it goes into an operator's lab or test facility and the operator runs through a lot of testing," he explains. "They find issues, report it back to the vendor and the vendor goes through another cycle. These things take a long time."

But if MediaKind can tie the Agile model to its ongoing work with customers and tighten the integration with the customer's test labs and facilities, "we can shorten that feedback loop," Broome said.

The pursuit of cloud native
Tied in, Broome is also coming on board to help MediaKind tune up its cloud strategy and broaden its software-as-a-service capabilities.

"We want to enable cloud native versions of the entire MediaKind portfolio," he said. "We believe this will help us further enhance our scale, our costs, our time-to-market and our service availability."

He said MediaKind is "pretty far along" with its cloud native plans, noting that the company has already adopted containers and Kubernetes as an orchestration layer. It has also parlayed some of that activity into MediaKind's relatively new products, including headend-as-a-service and a live events-as-a-service offerings.

That is also fitting into a cloud-agnostic deployment model at MediaKind in which it can go into AWS, Google Cloud or Microsoft Azure, or into a private cloud that a customer is operating, he said.

Much of that work also flows into MediaKind's cloud-focused MediaFirst platform, which is designed to support pay-TV providers as well as pure OTT players.

It's also playing a role with Mediaroom, the IPTV platform that Ericsson acquired from Microsoft in 2013. To help extend the life and broaden the capabilities of Mediaroom deployments, MediaKind has figured out a way to build in a common backend with MediaFirst that enables Mediaroom-based systems to tack on and integrate OTT products.

While the OTT market continues to grow, there are challenges ahead for MediaKind as well as its various competitors that also target the traditional pay-TV provider market. Although many are looking to enhance or upgrade their existing video platforms, others, such as Cable One, are content with cutting further investment in pay-TV to instead focus on higher-margin broadband services.

Broome acknowledges that different customers have different approaches and plans with respect to pay-TV. "I don't think there's a one-size-fits-all for every customer," he said. "We have a broad portfolio and products we believe can help customers that are at any point on this evolution."

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— Jeff Baumgartner, Senior Editor, Light Reading

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