May the 4th (be with you) has turned into a day to celebrate all things “Star Wars,” followed closely by Revenge of the 5th. This year, however, the entire month of May could be filled with “Star Wars” celebrations, including the 45th anniversary of the original movie on May 25 and culminating with the May 27 premiere of Disney+’s “Star Wars: Obi-Wan Kenobi.”
The streaming wars are certainly heating up when it comes to non-Star Wars content as well, and at times it can get messy. Actress Scarlett Johansson sued Disney last year, saying the simultaneous release of the Marvel movie “Black Widow” in theaters and on Disney+ was a breach of her contract. And change is rampant across the industry, with the merger of WarnerMedia and Discovery to form the new Warner Bros. Discovery just one recent example.
Still, as the various content providers refine their strategies, the video streaming industry is booming and on the rise. U.S. online streaming subscriptions increased by 15% year-over-year in 2021 to 353.2 million, according to an annual report from the Motion Picture Association. That translated to $40.2 billion in revenue, up 24% from 2020.
What it takes to win the streaming wars
There are two key things that can give the multitude of content providers the necessary ammo they need to win the streaming wars: the first and most obvious being the content itself. The phrase “content is king” may be somewhat cliché, but these businesses understand that they need to give viewers the content they actually want in order to attract and retain them as subscribers.
Netflix, for example, went all-in with Sony Pictures Entertainment last year with an exclusive deal that gives the streaming giant rights to the studio’s movies for the next five years. The aforementioned Disney+ has an inherent advantage in this vein thanks to the likes of Marvel, Pixar and the Star Wars franchise, each of which is almost guaranteed to churn out blockbuster hits each year.
The other key for streaming providers, but one that flies mainly under the radar, is how they deliver services that are reliable, easy and free of disruption and glitches. The greatest content in the world can’t save a service that’s choppy, buffers often or suffers from outages on a regular basis. There’s no faster way to lose subscribers than serving up a user experience that doesn’t meet today’s high standards.
Returning to a “Star Wars” analogy, IT ops teams at streaming companies are like the Rebel Alliance: they use technology in creative ways to win by ensuring they deliver the best possible experience to their customers. Specifically, most of these leaders use artificial intelligence-powered IT operations — AIops — to continually run digital services free of disturbances.
How AIops powers today’s streaming all-stars
The fact that AIops flies under the radar when it comes to video streaming is by design; the idea is to give users a seamless experience so they don’t need to think or worry about the many moving parts behind the scenes that make it all possible. Any disruption for end users can instantly kill the immersive experience and, in worst-case scenarios, prolonged or frequent outages can ultimately lead to canceled subscriptions.
So what exactly is AIops’ role in all of this? This, of course, can become very technical very quickly, but at a high level, the role of AIops is to deploy automation across a service’s entire suite of tools, allowing teams to automatically detect if and when an incident occurs, and then respond to it quickly so it goes virtually unnoticed by end users.
Most of today’s streaming businesses rely on AIops platforms using agnostic architectures, which essentially means the technology connects to a variety of tools and platforms regardless of which vendors they originate from. It’s not uncommon for streaming services to utilize dozens of various tools in tandem, meaning each of them needs to be monitored. With agnostic AIops platforms, the service can utilize the tools it already has in place without worrying about being locked in with a specific vendor.
AIops is comprised of three major components:
- AIops event correlation: With AI/ML-driven event correlation, modern enterprises reduce IT noise by 95%, enabling incident detection in real time. This empowers the IT ops team to solve issues quickly and focus on what matters.
The process of event correlation aggregates, normalizes and enriches events collected from fragmented tools, and uses AI to correlate that data into actionable insights. IT operations teams can detect incidents as they form, in real time, before they escalate into outages.
- Root-cause analysis: IT ops teams also have to pinpoint the earliest symptoms and identify issues and changes that may have caused them. Instead of burning hours on bridge calls, IT can identify the root cause and quickly take action with AIoPs-fueled root-cause analysis, which helps visualize incident progression, identify changes to services and infrastructure that cause incidents, and surface probable root causes in the form of incident titles.
- Incident automation: AIops helps accelerate triage, ticketing, notifications and war room creation, as well as runbook automation for workflows, giving teams time back on activities once done manually, shaving critical minutes off incident management lifecycles and driving faster resolution.
All of this combined leads to improved collaboration across IT ops teams, improvements in cross-team collaboration and visibility, and significantly reduced response time to incidents. It also aids with root-cause analysis, meaning teams can pinpoint where and why an incident occurred in the first place so they can prevent it from happening again.
Hard-core technologists understand that AIops is a key element of maintaining video streaming order (and restoring it when necessary). Big-name movie stars and franchises may continue to grab the most eye-catching headlines, but today’s streaming leaders understand that a seamless user experience driven by a platform’s underlying tools and technology is what will drive them ahead of the competition and help them win for years to come.
Mohan Kompella is vice president of product marketing at BigPanda.