Guest Post: Could Networks Become Houses of Cards?

Alex Conners

NetFlix announced last week its first original series, House of Cards. According to a recent NYTimes article, the first 13 episodes of House of Cards are already available on NetFlix. This upfront investment – much different than the way standard TV shows are produced - is a foreshadowing of what’s to come for streaming Internet television. The reality is DVD and BluRay relevance is changing, the way the relevance of physical books changed with the Kindle, Nook and tablets. And now it seems traditional television broadcasting is also being challenged by online video from companies like NetFlix, Amazon Prime, HBO Go and Hulu.

Therefore, my concern is less about the success of the show House of Cards. It is only a matter of time before NetFlix develops an original series or movie that’s an instant success. Frankly the success of NetFlix’s move to create an original series relies less on plot, actors, writers and storylines. The longterm success of this venture will depend on the quality of viewer experience.

The irony of the whole thing – the show title House of Cards, could become a metaphor for the networks it’s streamed on.

According to the Wikipedia page for the phrase House of Cards, “… the expression dates back to 1645. It means a structure or argument built on a shaky foundation or one that will collapse if a necessary (but possibly overlooked or underappreciated) element is removed."

If NetFlix and other companies (Hulu, Amazon Prime and HBO Go) over time start streaming on “shaky [network] foundation[s]” and network management is "overlooked or underappreciated," it could be a disaster.

Today, NetFlix accounts for about a third of all peak Internet bandwidth consumption. But this is only the start. Sandvine, the provider of broadband network solutions for fixed and mobile operators, forecasts that real-time entertainment will be one of the biggest growth areas in data consumption. Sandvine also predicts streaming will account for two thirds of peak bandwidth consumption by 2015. Lastly, Sandvine expects the 2014 World Cup will be the most streamed event in Internet history.

The conclusion - scalable big data network and IT performance management will be imperative to ensure superior quality of viewer experience.

Also remember - the infrastructure challenges aren’t limited to home delivery. Even with high-speed LTE networks expanding across the globe, wireless networks will continue to face congestion problems as mobile device use increases and access to streaming video dominates tablet usage.

Businesses are constantly at risk of network outages and failures. We’ve seen firsthand two examples in the last week alone – Twitter and Amazon both had network crashes in the last month.

Twitter and Amazon aside, my question is this: Is the market prepared for the potential infrastructure issues that could result if NetFlix and the other mentioned content providers continue to create extremely high demand for award-winning programming that is only available online?

Alex Conners manages Wilmington-based SevOne, Inc’s blog,  Rethink IT Performance. According to its website, SevOne provides the world’s fastest, most scalable IT management and reporting platform, delivered as an all-in-one solution, to help you detect and avoid performance events before they impact you business. On January 15, 2013 SevOne announced receiving a $150 million investment from Bain Capital. This article appeared earlier this month in Rethink IT Performance.


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