How to Select a Content Management System for In-Flight Entertainment (IFE)

How to Select a Content Management System for In-Flight Entertainment
14.12.2016 Damir Tomicic

Choosing the right content management systems (CMS) as a management backend for in-flight entertainment system (IFE) is anything but easy. The core ability to manage different content types (e.g. audio, video, images, meta data) and service data (e.g. payment, flight information, fleet management) is no longer sufficient.

It is necessary to identify the CMS solution with the ability to support specific industry requirements in both connected and disconnected environments (e.g. on-board of an aircraft) while working with the cloud and on-premises data centres and covering unusual synchronisation and delivery scenarios for content and services. Furthermore, the ability to provide a studio-grade DRM protection in offline environments and cover different usage scenarios on-board is one of the core requirements for modern IFE systems.

In a perfect world every project would allow customers to start from scratch and use the latest hardware and software technologies. But in reality, customers need to keep supporting legacy systems on-board (e.g. wired IFE systems, old communication protocols and devices). This requirement should also be implemented in a management backend providing the ability to manage old and new systems in parallel and to implement an interoperable solution (e.g. second screen support for wired IFE on latest consumer devices).

Picture: connecting the worlds inside and outside of an aircraft using all possible synchronisation ways such as cellular 3G/4G/5G networks, wireless internet access, satellite distribution, and physical storage devices like USB and SSD.

Selecting the Right CMS

Customers in the aerospace industry feel the full weight of the video management burden. In 1998, the “Toy Story 2″ movie required a mere 10GB of storage to produce. This capacity need grew exponentially for digitally rendered movies like “The Hobbit trilogy” – the move from SD over HD up to 4K video formats cause large file size increases for the same video content. Additionally, the volume of managed video content is getting bigger and bigger daily. Huge movie catalogs, thousands of episodes of the latest series and TV shows require automated process for ingestion, transcoding, encryption, packaging, and publishing of video content.

The majority of established CMS solutions in the market is built to fulfil the requirements of traditional media scenarios at home. Implementing the needs of media and entertainment industry, CMS vendors emphasised management of audio and video content and meta data providing a rich feature set for management and delivery to home entertainment environments out-of-the-box. In the most of the cases, the customisation is either not needed or it only allows customers to adapt the look and feel of the system.

This approach is not sufficient for the customers in the aerospace industry. Implementing a management backend for modern IFE systems on top of a classical CMS leads to heavy customisation efforts, increased costs and higher complexity. 

Solution: Digital Platforms Built on Axinom

Axinom is providing a set of core products (Axinom CMS, Axinom CDS, and Axinom DRM) designed for the aerospace industry which connect services, assets, crew members and passengers with proven aerospace industry-specific architectures and technologies allowing customers to build the next generation of digital platforms for management and delivery.

Content Management for Wireless and In-Seat IFE Systems

Axinom CMS is an extensible content management system designed to cover the full end-to-end media workflow for  wireless and in-seat IFE systems. It is used by major aerospace clients around the world since several years to power existing IFE systems and to deploy new generation of wireless and wired IFE systems and services.

It is the first full-featured content management solution for the worldwide aerospace market that enables both cloud-based and on-premises deployments for a wide set of connected and disconnected consumer scenarios (e.g. on-board of an aircraft). Based on industry-standards, it fulfils the highest requirements regarding security and reliability.

With workflows delivered in source code and a unified API, Axinom CMS provides an open development platform allowing customers to expand to platforms that may not be considered part of the in-flight entertainment ecosystem today and to connect and organise services on-ground and on-board of the aircraft.

Axinom CMS is the winner in the “2016 Streaming Media European Readers’ Choice Awards”.

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Secure Content Store for Early Window Hollywood Movies

As Hollywood prepares for its transition to 4k video, customers need to choose a new approach to content protection, one that promotes more service flexibility and quicker time to market while preserving the required level of security. The path to premium video content fresh from theaters provided by Hollywood studios and streamed to devices on flights features a set of stringent requirements in relation to data security in order to safeguard content copyright.

Axinom works since years very closely with leading Hollywood studios to build secure content stores for premium video content stored on-premises data centres and in the cloud.

By providing a multi DRM service with the highest security requirements (such as Microsoft PlayReady DRM SL3000), Axinom DRM gives customers the flexibility to rapidly launch video-on-demand and live video streaming and deliver high quality, secure and flexible IFE services to the widest range of consumer devices (Microsoft Windows and Apple OSX/macOS and the majority of popular client devices – tablets, mobile phones, game consoles and Smart TVs).

Axinom DRM is the first multi-DRM product that can operate in a disconnected fashion enabling premium video on board of more than a hundred aircraft in the world today.

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Content Synchronization and Delivery

Today’s services  in an aircraft have several challenges. Networks can be slow and unreliable, bandwidth can be changing or costly, data can be personal and critical. A world with ubiquitous connectivity will never exist. Traffic quotas, allocated bandwidth, availability of connectivity, storage space, computational power, data security, privacy and many other resources and requirements cannot be taken for granted.

Axinom CDS is built to transfer data fast, securely, and reliably in any environment, e.g. on-board servers and devices exchanging entertainment content and services with the management platform in the cloud. Axinom CDS is the robust solution that manages all aspects of synchronisation, including utilizing different pipes (LAN, WiFi, 3G, LTE, satellite networks), managing interruptions, prioritizing important data, and controlling data transfer cost.