Matias Høibraaten
February 2, 2022

Why it’s time to replace that 15-year-old OTT legacy system no one wants to touch

Throughout my years representing Vimond, I’ve spoken to many media organizations that are still using their home-built OTT video systems to power their streaming services. This might be particularly true for broadcasters, but I’ve also seen many telcos and other content owners who are in the same position.

Pro tip: If you are not sure what I refer to as an “OTT CMS”, here is a full explanation about what we mean by "OTT CMS"

These home-built on-premise solutions are usually very old and stem from the early days of streaming. OTT quickly emerged as an important viewing platform, but there wasn’t an established market for commercial solutions to utilize the potential of this new revenue stream.

So people “hacked it together” themselves. And very understandably so – it was simply done out of necessity. But let me make one thing very clear – if you’re still on the same strategy, you are missing out. Big time.

With this piece, I aim to discuss some common challenges that media organizations face to this day, which prevent them from changing their systems and moving at the pace of the market.

And one by one, I aim to break down the challenges for you and detail why it’s never going to be the right time to change, and why you should make it a 1st priority for your digital departments to do so immediately.

“Why change it if it works?”

This is a normal challenge I hear from many organizations when they consider a change. Everyone understands that all systems have an expiry date, but if it’s working and doing its job, questioning why it should be changed is a logical and reasonable thing to do.

On the surface, that is.

OTT CMS systems are integral to your business, and they determine your ability (or inability) to develop and innovate. If left unchecked for several years, you are simply left with a system that hinders you from competing against international rivals.

Limitations can surface everywhere, and simple improvements to your service can prove a much bigger headache than originally planned for.

Let's say you want to integrate a recommendation engine into your service.  Perhaps you want to be able to easily ingest metadata and video files from multiple sources and run them through a cloud-encoding solution to offer 4K or UHD? Or maybe you’d like to ingest pre-transcoded files in an easy and cost-effective way?

Maybe even something as simple as offering multiple subtitle tracks to your viewers in all your videos? And how about a better way to access systems from the home office rather than through unstable and slow VPN connections?

The list is endless, but the point is that if you’re running on an old legacy system designed for an era far surpassed by services on the market today, it’ll be a constant thorn in your side.

Adding these functionalities should be easy, but if you need to integrate with, and adjust for, old, complex technology every time you make an improvement, it’s simply going to slow you down.

Now, you are probably able to achieve many of the things mentioned above through your in-house legacy today. But I’d bet it took you a lot of time, resources, and unexpected hiccups to do so.

Working on old technology, where internal knowledge and expertise on the system might be long gone or undocumented, is a cumbersome way of living your life as an OTT service provider.

There’s a better way – I promise.

“We know we have to change it, but not now”

This is another statement that I’ve heard many times.

We’ve put it on the plan, but there are too many systems to upgrade, and this is just one out of many.

Streaming premium content to millions of viewers is a complicated task, and I think we all can appreciate that your OTT CMS usually is part of a bigger ecosystem with many tools and solutions that also need an upgrade.

But it’s a big mistake to put the upgrade of your OTT CMS system in the “future problem” box. As mentioned above – this is one of the most crucial pieces of the ecosystem, and the market is running at a fast pace. In most cases, it is also not as hard as you may think.

The latest and greatest within OTT CMS infrastructure is having the ability to operate on true cloud-native solutions. Microservices, Kubernetes, multi-tenancy – we could go on for many pages on this. And we have, so if you’d like to read more on the topic, check out this think piece.

But the point here is that if you’re operating on a cloud-native infrastructure, you are in a much stronger position to explore new technologies to enhance your streaming service.

You can drive innovation at a high pace, try out other cloud technologies with super quick integrations, forget about system maintenance, and mark phrases as “planned downtime for upgrades” or “6-months setup project” as a thing of the past.

Oh, and it also makes the job to upgrade all your other systems easier if you first focus on your OTT CMS.

You don’t need to worry about complex integrations with the legacy CMS, and can rather enjoy the fact that once you’ve upgraded another piece, it’ll easily fit into the new ecosystem.

The service providers that have made the change to modernize (and there are many), are operating at this high pace right now. If you’re to compete with them, you need to upgrade your OTT CMS as quickly as possible – otherwise, the gap will only continue to grow at a rapid rate.

“Isn’t cloud super expensive?

Now, the final question many people ask themselves is “But isn’t a cloud-model super expensive?”.

And rightfully so, in some areas, it is expensive (even though it is constantly improving).

But, and I’m sure you’ve heard this many times before – you need to also consider all the cost that goes into maintaining and developing your on-premise infrastructure today.

What’s the cost of having those engineers on standby 24/7 in case something fails? What’s the cost of spending a month of a team’s time just to add in one new feature? What’s the cost of buying new hardware that’s expired?

On Vimond’s cloud-based model, these costs are included in your license. Sure, the bill for transcoding your files, or paying a SaaS model compared to a one-time investment might seem more expensive, but remember to include all costs before you make the comparison. Otherwise, you’re not looking at the entire picture.

But, having said that, there are also ways of operating hybrid models.

Are you sitting on a transcoding farm that is giving you great rates compared to a cloud model? Maybe you don’t want to operate all your linear channels on cloud encoders? Or maybe you have a great multi-CDN setup that you don’t want to mess with?

Well – you don’t have to.

When I refer to a cloud-native OTT CMS system, that’s exactly what it is. You don’t need to move the transcoding, CDN, DRM, or other parts of the ecosystem to the cloud if you don’t have any good reason to do so. But you can still enjoy all the benefits mentioned above by moving your OTT CMS to the cloud.

Through external video references and APIs, a hybrid model between the CMS and other core pieces is very achievable and makes sense for many service operators (including several of Vimond’s current clients).

Pro tip: Read more about the benefits of a flexible OTT workflow.


So, to sum up – it’s very understandable why it seems like a good idea to push out the task of modernizing your OTT CMS until the timing is right. But, in the hectic life of media and streaming, the right time will never come.

There are always going to be other tasks that need your attention, but I hope this was useful to show you what you’re missing out on by waiting, and how much damage it can actually do to your future success by not making this an immediate priority.

If you feel inspired to start the journey of modernizing your OTT CMS, we’d be happy to take your call and tell you more about how we’ve helped other media organizations to do the same.

Simply just get in touch!

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