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We’re back, with another fantastic episode 😍

In this week’s episode, Jamie sits down with Jonny McKee from Amino Communications, who have released their AminoOS platform on RDK. 👏🏻

They talk about the ins and outs of AminoOS, and how operators can overcome some of the general issues they might come across when building their own platforms or working with RDK. 🧑🏻‍🔧

Jamie 0:39
Hello, welcome to the RDK podcast. I’m your host, Jamie Walker. And today I’m joined by Johnny McKee from Amino Communications. Johnny, how you doing today?

Johnny McKee 0:50
Hi, Jamie. Hi. I’m doing well.

Jamie 0:52
Good. Well, it’s great to have you on Johnny. So let’s, let’s jump straight into this, shall we? Who is Amino and what do you provide to operators?

Johnny McKee 1:05
Okay, so, I mean, always is no one half of their theory and group alongside our sister company 24i. You know, most people in the industry know, Amino as a pioneer of IPTV and streaming devices. We’ve been around since the end of the 1990s. And have sold set of boxes for IPTV vendors for many, many years. Increasingly, though, you know, there’s there’s less differentiation in hardware and Amino, we’re focused a lot on the software. And I think a lot of our value and our differentiation is actually in the software, what we do on the setup box to make it easy to deploy cost effective, manageable, you know, the management tools are an increasingly important part of our product set. So why I think we’re really known as being a hardware vendor, we’re an awful lot more than that known, there’s an awful lot of our focus is on the software and the features and the capabilities and integrations that we provide without hardware. And then, you know, I mentioned 24i is our sister company, they provide user interfaces and back end components. And when you put a meal together with 24i, you really have a complete end to end video delivery streaming platform. I think that’s that’s who Amino are, combined with 24i, that’s our real value these days.

Jamie 2:34
That’s it, I think the combination between 24i as you said right works really hand in hand and exposed you on a more global scale as well, right? It’s just those those new areas.

Johnny McKee 2:45
Yeah, it’s very complimentary. You know, we have end to end deployments with the 24i team on both Android and Linux deployments. And so, you know, it’s not something that a lot of companies can bring. A lot of companies bring significant portions of that, but there are very few of any that bring everything from the client hardware right through to the back end services. So it’s pretty unique.

Jamie 3:10
Okay, so I guess the reason why we’re here today is to talk about your involvement with RDK. Right. So why did Amino choose to get involved with RDK?

Johnny McKee 3:22
Well, okay, you know, there’s a, there’s a number of reasons. First of all, you know, RDK is getting a lot more traction in the market recently. If you look at what has happened with Android, over the years, Android has standardised a lot of software on device platforms. It makes it easier for OTT vendors to build their apps to deploy onto those platforms. And RDK is increasingly doing the same thing. And that adds a lot of value to RDK. On the back of that, a lot of the chipset vendors have really started to look at RDKand invest in the platform. And that’s really what we need to enable us to develop products we need the services that our customers want to deploy to be integrated with RDK. And we need the hardware vendors who you know, are our partners and we rely on to build the technology to make sure that we have an option we can deploy devices with Okay, so in the last 18 months, two years, I would say those things have come together. I think the days of every operator doing a custom integration on Linux stock are gone. Nobody wants to support that there’s too much reputation of the effort. OTT vendors having to build custom apps just for you know, one operator. It doesn’t doesn’t scale any longer. And I think Android led the way I think the RDK community have done Job was already paid for and video accelerator. And that’s why we got into it. We’ve now got the options with the chipset vendors, we’re getting the services with RDK that our customers need. And I think it’s the right time. And if you look at the market research, you know, not saying exactly the same thing. Already cage becoming a really good viable platform and underarm turn over to Android, or customers want to retain the control.

Jamie 5:28
Yeah, I think it all comes down to the flexibility of the stack as well. Right, Johnny? And I guess, again, talking about Amino and 24i, together, you can really work together as a whole to create a new solution for your customers, right, and ultimately bring both aspects together.

Johnny McKee 5:48
Yeah, and you know, you say flexibility, but really control has a lot of this with Android. You know, with operator care, particularly, there’s there’s a lot that operators can do. But there are still constraints. There are requirements from Google. And don’t get me wrong androids an important part of our strategy. But it depends on the priority of the operator. And so RDK is also sits alongside or Android strategy is another very important part for the operators who want to keep complete control of their UI, their release cycle, their device lifecycle, their data, that that’s important for some operators, and therefore RDK really has a very important place in the market.

Jamie 6:29
Absolutely, I guess, I guess sort of touching on the control aspect as well, I guess from from your point of view, what challenges are operators facing that Amino and RDK can overcome as a solution?

Johnny McKee 6:44
Well, you know, they, the largest one, and probably most significant is access to the premium apps. Understandably, the premium app providers don’t want to be doing a custom integration for every operator not only works for teams. And, you know, we’ve done this, we’ve integrated most of the premium apps on Linux stocks over the years. So we’ve been doing it for quite a long time. But it’s expensive. It’s time consuming, which means it’s only available to largest operators. And it’s really not scalable for anybody that the OTT vendors or Amino or the operator. So RDK standardising, and when you look at what’s happened RDK and video accelerator, bring in lightning, bringing the RDK test suite into this gives you standardisation on the platform, which then means the providers know and can rely on the services and the features that are available on that platform. So they can write once run many times, run a certification programme to make sure the quality of the integration is good. And it’s significantly reduces the cost of deploying those premium OTT services for the operators. So that’s what the operator needs to be doing and focusing on, you know, that’s important to their subscribers, they stays on, and it’s our job to make sure that we do not cost effectively. And that’s not why I feel RDK really does. You know, it really does offer something to a lot of operators. Now. The other thing that, you know, that’s the, that’s the customer facing the service side of the platform, the other thing that I think is quite important is actually the obstruction from the hardware. Because you invest a lot of time and money building middleware or building integrations with various different services, you know, building the user experience. And hardware has a lifecycle, it will change, you know, maybe buy a particular piece of hardware for two, three years longer. But it will change, that silicon will no longer be available hardware have to be updated. You don’t want to have to start and rebuild all of that UI not integration again. So getting obstruction from the hardware, and getting portability between different generations and different chipsets is really valuable. Something we’ve done with amener will last for years. But I think with already k then it becomes easier, it becomes something where you can go between really quite different hardware without affecting the upper layers of the stock. Without migration really quite easy. So you know, there there are several aspects to it. It’s not just all about the services that’s really valuable. But there’s a significant benefit from the abstraction and some of the cost savings that we can provide with RT K as well.

Jamie 9:33
That’s it as well, I guess, in the world of technology where the last 20 years alone have accelerated in terms of growth, right. We’ve seen sets of boxes get smaller and smaller and smaller, but it’s also the death of the set top box, right eventually, in 20 years, is it going to be around?

Johnny McKee 9:53
Well as 20 years as a tan, who knows we’ve been talking about it for years. You know that the setup box still has a role. I’ve talked about this before, you know, smart TVs, there’s, there’s a place for them. You know, people want to watch video on all of their devices. But an operator still has a managed service. And the big differentiation of the set of boxes, the control in the management features you can put in. So, you know, your your operator up and fails on a smart TV, who do you call when you call the operator, they have no idea what smart TV version model operating system is or not, they have no remote management features. So that is the differentiator set. The box is designed to help an operator deliver service and operators role is to deliver service. So there’s there’s still life and the old dog yet as they say, it’s it’s adding value. It’s I’ve talked to a number of operators to say, we need to have all device types, but the central box is still very central to our strategy. And I think that’s going to continue for a time. Yeah,

Jamie 11:04
absolutely. I fully agree with you on that one, Johnny. I guess then, I mean, I’ll have an operating system. AminoOS. Yeah. How does that fit with RDK?

Johnny McKee 11:19
right. So in the past, RDK was, you know, a huge investment, it was really in the realm of the tier ones. And there’s a lot has happened with RDK in recent years to mean that, it’s, it’s easier, lower cost to deploy. If you look at a middle class, what we were always trying to do with the minimal s was also reduced the deployment costs. So we do an awful lot of pre integration with AminoOS so that when we when a new customer, it isn’t a huge project to start from scratch to integrate every third party service on that platform. And you know, we’ve been, we benefit from the type of customers that may not have traditionally service, we’ve got, you know, a very large number of customers. And so we’ve seen just about every third party integration that’s out there, we’ve done most of them, we’ve experienced of this. So we’ve got a platform that’s integrated with most of the other services we need. And again, that’s reducing the cost of deployment. And then, you know, we tried to productize this with our hardware. So the, you know, the low level parts of the stock, there’s still a lot of work on putting RDK onto a device. During those integrations, getting certifications done pre integrating a range of cars, DRM solutions and the other core services that you need. AminoOS is really what we use to bring this all together, turn it into a productized platform that you can pick off the shelf. And you can run very, very quickly. Yes, there’s there’s still going to be integrations required. There’s there’s still unique things you find when you go on to a new network. But we’ve done everything possible to make this up fast, easy, low cost deployment, though, you know, it’s another aspect of the cost of owning a device. And it isn’t just about the hardware cost. There’s there’s a whole lifecycle of costs here. And we try to take as many of those costs as we can.

Jamie 13:32
That’s it I guess it brings us well on to our next topic, which is sort of looking at the combination benefit for for operators, right, so we can look at it in two parts, essentially, we have migrating existing customers to new platforms. And then the other aspect is the attraction for new customers who don’t know, I mean, oh, s. So I guess I guess from you, what are your views on migrating existing customers to new platforms?

Johnny McKee 14:04
Right? Well, this has been a, you know, a big priority for us through the the RDK project that we’ve been rolling for the last time, we have to work to give a lot of focus to our existing customers, they’re our bread and butter they we have, we have to make sure we support them as best we can. And to present them with a new hardware and software strategy that would have required them to have to start from scratch and integrate all of their services and their middleware. Again, it’s just not reasonable. It’s not what a you know, our customers should expect from us. And yet we want to move on and technology and offer new capabilities. So what we did was migrate over all of the personality of AminoOS onto RDK. So all of the API’s, all the services that our customers use on a meaningful way as we have brought up technology over into the RTK stock. And we’ve demonstrated our customer middleware platforms, running on the New York CAE software from Amino with no change without any involvement from any third party. So, you know, I think that’s really proved a strategy. All of the existing amenable West customers should be able to just drop their existing middleware onto the device. And they should expect that to work. And I’m sure there’s gonna be fine tuning, there’s always other things that you have to deal with in a new hardware deployment. But it opens up a new hardware platform with a new software stack. I think most importantly, it moves into an environment where our existing operators can very easily put the premium OTT services onto the platforms that were in the past, we’ve done some we’ve done YouTube, we were a YouTube scaling partner. Now, I think this opens up the full range of OTT services to our operation much more easily. And without having to invest in complete new middleware integrations and new API’s that have to be sorted between the various different parts of the stack. So I think that’s a massive benefit for existing customers. And that was a very important thing for us, because those customers are our bread and butter. You know, you mentioned about them, how do we attract new customers? Well, I think productizing RDK on Amino hardware. You know, the reason for doing that is making sure that we’re eliminating the barriers to RDK. So customers in the past would have looked at already can think there isn’t a chance this isn’t for us, because of the huge amount of effort involved could look at an Amino product. And the time to market would be very short. The stock is pre integrated, you’ve accessed all of the RDK services, lightning, API’s, metrological AppStore, you know, and you could be in the market with them very, very quickly. And it’s not a it’s not an integration that you’re gonna have to be involved in amino have done all of the low level work, we’ve integrated the management tools, we haven’t upgraded the, you know, other services, things fast channel change retransmissions and IP networks. It’s done. So, you know, I think that’s a significant benefit. And it’s something that’s different for the market. You know, RDK with RDK4 and particularly video accelerator, is no longer the massive challenge that it once was. So I think that’s the benefit we bring to new customers thinking about, well, I don’t know if they’re thinking about RDK or not, but they’re thinking about what services they can run and expose their customers on this as a platform that can do it for them.

Jamie 17:53
That’s it, and again, one of the common factors that keeps coming up is cost right and time to market. In an increasingly competitive sector, getting your product to market at the right time for the right cost is more paramount than ever. So where you sit and what you can provide as you can provide that that quick route to a to b, with a fully tested platform and the hardware back into that. I guess I guess we look at how do or how does Amino and RDK give operators, a future proof platform in that case?

Johnny McKee 18:35
Yeah, well, I think even you know, if we look backwards, that was one of the things that differentiated Amino with AminoOS because, you know, I look at devices that were deployed in maybe 2010 2011. Pure multicast with the cars. And you know, I look back at that, and where we are today where we’re running, and DASH and HLS, you know, protocols that were not even considered back then we’re running them on AminoOS on those same devices. So we future proof of the hardware we sold many, many years ago. And it’s because we have a roadmap for a manual way as we continue to develop the software. And we make that software available on all of our devices going back quite a few years. So I don’t intend to change anything without I want us to continue to develop a roadmap. It’s informed and guided by our by our customers involved they need. And, you know, we should be able to deploy hardware today and keep that alive in the network for quite a long period of time. Because we’re able to upgrade and develop that roadmap so we don’t do big one off projects just for one deployment. men walk away. We don’t want to touch it. We develop our hardware, we have amenable our software, and we provide maintenance release As to that on a regular schedule, and our customers get those those upgrades over time to extend the life of the hardware. So, you know, I think environmentally, it’s a good thing we shouldn’t be adding to the the electronics going into landfill. I think for our customers, it’s cost effective. It helps them evolve, they get input into that roadmap. You know, I think RDK, you know, it gives us a platform that we can continue to do that with, we’ve got RDK management, you know, bought into our roadmap, we’ve got the chipset vendors, committed to RDK, that gives us a platform that we can continue that same approach, though, that’s really what makes it future proof. And I don’t see anything changing there. I think that’s something that we we’ve always felt very strongly about and will continue to do.

Jamie 20:51
Absolutely. Well, I really look forward to having you back again in the future Johnny to discuss sort of where Amino and 24i collaborated, and, and and where you are, and maybe a year’s time, but less today, it’s been an absolute pleasure having you on the show. I guess for our listeners, where can they find you online, Johnny?

Johnny McKee 21:15
Oh, you’ll find us on amino.tv You can find me on LinkedIn. You know so, and yeah, I’m easy to find.

Jamie 21:27
Perfect, Jolly. And guys, please make sure that you follow us on Twitter and LinkedIn using that to the RDK podcast. And don’t forget to subscribe to our YouTube channel so you get notified every time we upload a new episode. But for now, take care and let’s continue the conversation


The RDK Unplugged Team

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