Streaming and Security: In Conversation With Smita Aeron
People from around the globe are looking for instant and uninterrupted access to streaming services, on any device and in any location. But delivering high-quality streams that can easily scale to meet audience demand is no easy task.
To better understand the ways that Akamai provides innovative content delivery solutions, that give providers an advantage in performance, reliability, security and cost, we spoke to Smita Aeron, Senior Manager in our Media Delivery division.
Great to meet you, Smita! Can you tell us about your role at Akamai?
In the Media Delivery division, our team works on the edge server -the backbone of the Akamai Cloud. The moment an end user makes a connection, they contact the edge server and decisions can be made; how we process the request, what we do and what kind of products apply to it. My role is to maintain quality on the edge server, testing its performance and seeing that it operates as efficiently as possible.
How long have you worked at Akamai?
In January, I'll have completed 15 years at Akamai. The great thing is that it's never felt long, because every day is a new day, and an opportunity to learn something. Akamai is also always innovating, so its people are at the cutting edge of technology.
What made you choose Akamai as your place of work?
This is the first company I entered after completing my Masters. I'd taken a course in Content Delivery, so it made sense to enter the biggest content delivery company. To then join the edge server team has been a dream come true for me.
What is Akamai's role in content streaming?
Akamai is the biggest video delivery platform, providing high-quality streaming at scale. For OTT providers especially, that's huge. But if you go back a decade, Akamai pioneered the standards in media delivery, allowing customers to access all the kinds of entertainment they can today. There are so many options, from live Football, March Madness, World Cup Soccer and Cricket. When streaming live games, we can see peak traffic as high as 18.6 million viewers, so just being able to support that type of scale makes Akamai unique.
How does Akamai protect content?
Akamai has to cater to the Media customers need to restrict access to their content in accordance with their content rights agreements. Customers are increasingly being challenged by anonymous proxy and VPN services that are specifically designed to defeat region controls of popular OTT services. Akamai protects content with various geographic restrictions such as Content Targeting and Enhanced Proxy Detection. Next is to make whether users have the right subscription level to access the content. Token Authentication is used to validate user authorization. Then to ensure content is not intercepted over the wire, the stream is encrypted during transport. These are just some of things Akamai is doing to make sure that authorized users can access content securely.
What does the future hold for content protection/streaming?
I think one of the biggest problems facing this industry is piracy. With so many people sharing and streaming content, there are many attacks like link sharing, or downloading the content and streaming it to other unauthorized users. Broadcasting can even be done by screen capture, publishing it through live streaming or social media. We're currently working on innovative technology that can solve the problem of piracy attacks, to prevent unauthorized access on streams. What is the most exciting part of what you do?
The most exciting part is that we are at the cutting edge of this technology, so that includes all the features I've spoken about, all the solutions and products. Whether we're selling this content or protecting it, it's all done in real-time, and it's constantly developing, allowing us to think about all the emerging problems and their solutions. These are not problems that have been encountered before, so we're the first to attempt to solve them. While we do this, we also balance the cost to Akamai and what this means in terms of performance and efficiency in our Cloud. I think maintaining this balance is incredibly exciting.
Why is the service Akamai providing able to pull viewership away from traditional streaming?
Akamai is providing such high-quality viewing experiences to an audience, allowing for instant play and no buffering - its seamless. We're also catering to so many connected devices, providing a real range of services to our end users. For devices that are high definition and resolution, Akamai can deliver the quality they're expecting.