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Join us this week as we chat with Glee Abraham, Director of Technology Operations & Engineering at RDK and discuss…

📺 Glee’s experience in Technical Ops and Engineering

📺 How to keep up with the constantly evolving tech world

📺 How RDK support the open-source community


Jamie 0:32
Hello, and welcome to the RDK podcast. I’m your host, Jamie Walker. And today I’m joined by the fantastic Glee Abraham, Director of technology operations and engineering at RDK. Pleasure to have you here with us Glee, how are you doing today?

Glee 0:49
I’m really good. How are you?

Jamie 0:51
I’m super good. Super excited for this episode and for what’s next. So, Glee, you’re mostly focused in two separate areas. So let’s start with the more technical ops side. Could you explain a little bit to our audience what technical ops is and what your role is within that?

Glee 1:13
Yeah, as you mentioned, I have two areas. One is technical operations that I had. And from the technical operations side, it’s mostly maintaining an open source community infrastructure for everybody, right. So the community needs all the open source infrastructure in order for them to use RDK and contribute to. So we maintain a wiki documentation, redo creating to the community, we maintain the jiras for the community for ticketing and support, we have a technical support team that provides technical support to our members.

Glee 1:48
So one of the key areas of technical operations is code management. So this is a main functional area for us. Because code is the most important part of it all. It is, of course, an open source community. So it’s all about code. So we focus a lot on code management, code releases, ingestive, community code contributions, maintenance activities, like static code analysis, open source licence, compliance, scans, testing, test automation, a lot of stuff like that. So there’s a lot of things going on under the hood, which we maintain as part of technical operations.

Jamie 2:24
That’s it and I think for all of our listeners, that’s the contributions from the community coming in, right. But your second side; so that the other half of your expertise is within engineering. Tell us a little bit about that side, because they go hand in hand.

Glee 2:41
It does. So engineering has been a key piece of our operations right from the start. Our primary focus till 2019 was relevant tools such as the GDK for test automation or test automation framework. And the porting and maintenance of RDK on open source reference platforms such as the X86 emulator, the Raspberry Pi, the Tories, Omnia platform for broadband.

Glee 3:04
But since 2020, we have changed our focus a little bit, we still do whatever we were doing, maintaining these open source platforms. But we’ve changed our focus to do pre-integration of RDK on OEM platforms that we call the video accelerator, and including an app store and premium odd streaming applications on it. So we are trying to move away from becoming a, you know, an open source community, do what do you want to do… These are reference platforms, go and work with a- say that we are now pre-integrating everything together to make it easier for you to adopt it. So that’s the main focus changed from an engineering side that we’ve done in the last couple of years.

Jamie 3:46
That’s it, I think I think the RDK-V platform was very well received. We have Carlos Santos on a few weeks ago talking about how KAON media have used that platform. So, Glee over time within the company, tell us about how you have seen the technology within the video and broadband industries evolve.

Glee 4:08
Yeah, RDK first started as a platform for the operators to achieve scale across SOCs, OEMs and platforms. The first focus was to achieve this goal retaining the feature parity with the legacy devices in the field, right? So when we worked with broadband also, this was exactly the same case, we wanted to ensure feature parity with existing devices that were out in the field. Moving away from proprietary middleware stacks to an open source platform.

Glee 4:36
But over time, we have seen that RDK move beyond that to adopt a full you know, App Store experience giving priority to premium OTT streaming applications and IoT use cases. So the deployment of say home automation, home security features by operators has pushed RDK in the direction to enhance its IoT offerings and bring in new profiles like for example, RDK Camera, which came out last year. Right? So that has been the trend and that trend is still continuing, you can still see that push where, you know, we’re looking for cutting edge features, pre-integrations, certification of premium apps. And you know, making sure that RDK is still cutting edge and competitive against, you know, all the competing platforms out there.

Jamie 5:25
That’s it, and obviously, the other side of our business [Paratus People] is an IoT side of the business and RDK is starting to come up in conversation there. So it’s definitely catching the eyes of some of the other businesses out there.

Glee 5:36
Yeah, yeah. And on that topic, RDK is more like a whole home platform, right? It’s not just about set-top boxes. It’s evolved the broadband pipeline into your home, right, that that’s the major focus for all operators. It is also about giving additional offerings to your customers from the operator perspective, the customers, that includes the what I said earlier, home automation, security and other features. So it’s like a whole home platform, not just tied up to your set top box.

Jamie 6:07
So Glee, how have you been able to keep up with these evolutions, and make sure that RDK software stays in line with new developments?

Glee 6:16
Yeah, most of the RDK contributions come naturally from the operator community, driven by their competitive product feature development goals. So mostly, it is all about riding these waves of contributions that keep coming in. And we also try to stay ahead of the curve through working groups, which give us a heads up on the new profiles and features that are on the roadmap, and be consolidated and share this roadmap with the community.

Glee 6:42
Knowing what is coming up in the future allows us to plan ahead and develop pre integrations, referencing emendations integrations on reference platforms, do make sure that the feature is ready to release once it is contributed by anybody in the community. So we try to stay ahead of the curve. And also, as I mentioned earlier, RDK is like a whole home platform. Everything that is contributed in two video, broadband and IoT, and cameras, they complement each other giving operators a single platform with a lot of you know, remote management capabilities and telemetry and a lot of built in functionality as well. So there’s a lot of collaboration, we tried to stay ahead of the curve, and we tried to quickly react and make releases to the community.

Jamie 7:30
Absolutely. And I think sort of going back onto the open source community side and the operations part of your role. Tell us how does RDK support the open source community? And beyond!

Glee 7:44
Yeah, so I gave a little overview of the tech operations that my team runs earlier. So we maintain a very elaborate wiki that has tonnes of information on RDK and RDK components, features, subsystems, tooling, so that if you actually go to RDK Wiki, to a newbie, it’s overwhelming, right? So we’ve also launched a new portal called developer.rdkcentral.com where it’s easier for a newbie to come and search for information and, you know, go through a process of self study, like getting started, how you build, how you download, you know, basic stuff, right?

Glee 8:23
So that that kind of a change we are bringing with the wiki plus the developer portal, and then we enhance it by our webinar series, right? We provide a webinar series every year, we run around 10 to 12 webinars each year. And it talks about the latest cutting edge technology updates in RDK. And to top it up, so these are more of the community education side, right. There is a collaboration side already, right? The collaboration is done to our events and working groups. So if you look at events, we have the technology summit, we have the global summit, we have the leadership event, back in March, April, there are multiple events that we run through the year, unfortunately, last two years have been virtual, but usually these are the live events where everybody comes together at a location. Some of the events are very high level, we’re talking about article roadmap, you know, latest technology, updates, etc.

Glee 9:20
But some of the events like the technology summit is a really hands on summit where people come and actually code together. So there’s a lot of collaboration at multiple levels. I have a peer group in our organisation under Rob Suero that runs some working groups. So these working groups actually work with the community. And, you know, it enhances the collaboration on certain features or certain topics. So we have focused working groups, special interest groups that drive a lot of technology collaboration in the industry. So it’s all about, you know, ensuring that the community is working together towards a common goal, and that there is some kind of a collaboration happening on an ongoing basis.

Jamie 10:10
That’s it and I think we’re going to touch on that as well on another future episode about how we’re bringing that collaboration together and discuss that at the summit. But talking about the summit; after the the end of the 2020 events, one of the key points that was discussed was the new lightning application platform for RDK4. How has the development of lightning progressed in the last year or so for your team?

Glee 10:41
Yeah, so lightning is a key platform for RDK. It enables faster performant applications, leveraging the browser framework. Now, we can always bring in native applications for enhanced performance. But every time you bring a new native application, it has a toll on your memory usage on your system and everything right. Lightning ensures that with a browser, you’re able to run multiple applications retaining the same performance that you expect from a native application. So there’s a lot of focus on lightning this year. And my team is also picking up lightning so that we, we are currently developing a UI for our video accelerator platform that can be used by any operator, right. So if an operator wants to adopt RDK and deploy the video accelerating platform, we hoped to give them a UI that they can customise and use on their product lines. So it’ll be very easy to customise our UI by, you know, changing some configuration parameters. And you know, putting in new colour schemes that match your branding, putting new logos up there, and making some tweaks so that you can quickly deploy it to the field. So lightning is a key aspect of for what we plan to do with RDK. And I think we’re all very excited about the potential of lightning.

Jamie 11:58
Yeah, I think it’s definitely been a big topic of conversation between myself and my clients as well. It’s definitely caught the eye of everybody, I think it’s how easy it is to use, how integratable it is. It really is getting people excited. But as we grow ever closer to this year’s summit, can you tell us or what can we expect around announcements, or maybe some new advancements and improvements within rdk?

Glee 12:26
Yep, I kind of like hinted about this one in one of your previous questions I think; it all is about what RDK management has been doing in terms of our evolution as an organisation, we are focusing a lot on the pre-integration stuff, pre- integrating an app store applications on reference SOC platforms, and on product quality OEM platforms, which we call the video accelerator. And there is a lot of tooling that we are putting in place to ensure that community code contributions are constantly tested and validated on these platforms. And that there is a very consistent release cadence by which there is a firmware upgrade process where it does not break any of the premium app integrations. So there’s a lot of focus on putting together what I call a pre-integration facility and all the pieces that go into it to make this a running engine. And I think we’re ready to talk a little more about these aspects on the summit this time.

Jamie 13:31
That’s it, well, I’m super excited to be joining you on the summit in a week or so’s time but but look, Glee; thank you ever so much for giving us a really good overview of your position and what it what your team do in terms of supporting the community.


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