Sunday, 15 June 2008

IPTV's missing standard - Middleware

Having spent the last week researching IPTV before presenting a two day session on it, it has struck me we've got one big flaw in our current IPTV architecture.......

Middleware. Why haven't we got a standard for Middleware, all I see at the moment is proprietary solution after proprietary solution. What we need is to come up with a standard for interfaces to STBs (SSL/TLS encrypted HTTP with XML/CSS would be a good start), Billing engines (IPDR would be a good start here - yeah some vendor support this), OSS interfaces for events and alarm status. Hey about a plug-in based interface for the Digital Rights Management (DRM) and Conditional Access (CA) systems too, which seem to be spawning quicker than "Aliens off-spring".

Sure we've got some standard way of doing things at least, Multicast (Internet Group Management Protocol - IGMP) for channel hopping and RTSP for controlling Video On Demand (VoD), but alas we still seem to be in the dark ages when it comes to a decent spec for the middleware and management systems.

I think we owe it to ourselves to come up with a standard specification and Architecture framework for IPTV middleware to increase competition and reduce costs. I'd like to choose STB vendors, Middleware vendors and OSS/BSS vendors separately for IPTV networks. I have the choice of network equipment already.....

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