Plan Now to Strengthen Your Video Network Infrastructure and Protect Your Business for a Return to the Office
Video has proven to be an important tool—especially since social distancing is the name of the game. Concerns over video network infrastructure scalability and efficiency have become more important with rapid adoption due to the pandemic. Planning now is the key to strengthening your video network infrastructure.
Some Advice for the Weary
In last week’s blog, Choosing the Right Enterprise Streaming Platform, I suggested it’s time to step back and take a breath.
Sometimes it’s obvious when we need to take a break. Like most of you, I have been busier than ever. COVID-19 has shifted everything. Created uncertainty. Even the experts can’t predict what’s next, which has created a constant state of change (and chaos!).
So, why should you take a break?
- Reduces the chance you’ll burnout
- Lowers stress levels, which is good for overall wellbeing
- Helps you stay focused
- Increases productivity
You probably are thinking, “She’s not an expert. How does she know?” Well, there is a lot of research to back my theory—including first-hand experience. I also believe it’s important to take inventory of what you’ve achieved and lessons learned. Then, you’ll be ready to create your plan for the second half of the year.
An Important Tool
We also talked about the 10 questions to ask when choosing an enterprise streaming platform. And I left you with a bonus question: How will you handle video distribution?
Video has proven to be an important tool—especially since social distancing is the name of the game. It’s an important tool for communication, training and ultimately employee engagement. But if people can’t actually watch your videos—because your video network infrastructure fails—they become useless.
Once you’ve invested in a beautiful and functional streaming platform, you need to think about what video will do to your network. Because use of video is at an all-time high, it might even impact other IT-supported systems. And who needs a deluge of IT tickets?
Moving forward, employees who have experienced video capabilities at home are highly likely to demand access to a growing array of video solutions, including those that bridge the worlds of video collaboration and video streaming.1Converting New Video Awareness into a Last video Advantage, Wainhouse Research
This is where an enterprise content delivery network (eCDN) comes into play. An eCDN efficiently distributes video across your corporate video network infrastructure to viewers whether they’re at headquarters, a branch office or retail location. Of note, an eCDN is less important when people are working from home, but everything when they’re watching video while in the workplace.
Concerns over scalability and efficiency become even more important when you take into account the adoption spurred by COVID-19 quarantines. We’ve heard over and over again from our clients, use of video is up. For example, one customer told us his company typically hosts all-employee meetings once per quarter with a 20-30% attendance rate. Now, they’re hosting webcasts on a weekly basis with a more than 80% attendance rate.
With those numbers, the network could fail without the right video network infrastructure in place.
Best Practices for Deploying an eCDN
Start by choosing solutions that adhere to the principles of a common enterprise streaming infrastructure. By doing so, you can make the best use of your streaming resources. This gives you the freedom and flexibility to change and evolve with the needs of your organization.
The core principles of a common video network infrastructure include:
- No vendor lock in: A vendor-neutral eCDN supports all enterprise streaming video, regardless of video source. You benefit from simplified deployment and management of the eCDN along with maximum flexibility to add and change streaming platforms at any time.
- Scalable: An eCDN should adapt to the changing needs of an organization, allowing you to start small and seamlessly expand as demand grows without creating an administrative burden or requiring forklift upgrades.
- Secure: Security is always a top priority regardless of the enterprise solution, and an eCDN is no exception. Your eCDN should measure up to your enterprise security policies to avoid potential risks to the enterprise.
- Resilient: Intelligent resiliency features in an eCDN allow the network to automatically respond and adapt to failures, transparent to viewers.
- Affordable: Because budget is always a top consideration, identify a solution that will maximize your return on investment. Your eCDN should leverage existing investments and future proof your streaming video environment.
At Ramp, we believe an eCDN should optimize the distribution of video from any video source, easily scale over time, and meet or exceed enterprise security requirements. Our solutions are built on these principles, and we are the only company to offer all three of the most common eCDNs in the market today.
Why is that important?
Networks are Like Snowflakes
Not all networks are the same. And beyond the network, how and when you use video are as unique as your organization.
“In a world where seemingly every corporate network is a snowflake – each with its own unique architecture and methodology for distributing video – system administrators must thoroughly evaluate their options and select the tools that will best smooth the flow of this data-intensive media,” said Steve Vonder Haar, Senior Analyst at Wainhouse Research.
Live broadcasts and video on demand (VOD). Desktops and mobile devices. Wi-Fi, VPN and virtual desktops (VDI). Multiple streaming sources. Distributed and centralized networks. Configurations and delivery requirements for enterprise video network infrastructure can vary greatly.
And when it comes to an eCDN, one size does not fit all. Regardless, you want to protect your network while delivering an awesome video experience to your viewers.
Which eCDN is right for your enterprise?
Choosing the Right eCDN
You’re probably not new to streaming live or on-demand video, but you might be new to the idea of an eCDN. If you don’t have one, you’ll soon learn how important it is to streaming success. In fact, some of our clients tell us they didn’t know they needed an eCDN until there was a network failure during a live event. One even described it as an “epic failure” that came with a lot of pressure from the CEO down to get it right next time.
We’ve all been there, right? Well, my goal is to help you solve a problem before you know you have one. You’re producing more videos and webcasts, and more people are watching them. So, we know video is at an all-time high. We also know social distancing will remain in place for quite some time. This means no gathering people in the same room for meetings or trainings as well as travel restrictions. As a result, more people will continue watching online video. So, you should prepare your video network infrastructure for massive amounts of video—even as people return to the office.
As we’ve discussed, the best approach for a given organization depends on a variety of factors, including the topology of the network, the type of video being streamed, budget requirements, and IT policies, such as security and management.
The different types of eCDNs are not mutually exclusive and can often be deployed in combination with one another to best meet the needs of the business. Below is a quick overview of the different types of eCDNs.
Multicasting is a one-to-many network protocol that reduces traffic by simultaneously delivering a single video stream to hundreds or thousands of users. Your network must be multicast-enabled to take advantage of this kind of solution.
Here’s how it works. A multicast sender retrieves a live video stream from the source, often a cloud-based broadcasting platform, and sends it out over the multicast-enabled network. Depending on the network topology, additional senders may be placed in locations around the network to serve as forwarding engines. Then, viewing devices on the network, such as personal computers, each host receiver software capable of tapping into the broadcast stream.
As a result, video traffic on the network is drastically minimized by eliminating the need for each device to pull an independent stream from the originating source.
The benefits of Ramp Multicast+ include:
- Live HTML5 video (HLS, DASH)
- Highly predictable network
- Reliable even over WiFi
- Patented error-correction
- Event analytics
- Silent testing with event simulations
- High availability with heartbeat monitoring
- Replacement for EOL multicast
Software-based HTTP video caching servers are deployed in strategic locations around the network, such as at the edge of the enterprise WAN close to groups of viewers. When the first viewer requests a video, the cache retrieves it from the source and stores a local copy. The cache distributes the video from the cache to other nearby viewers.
Not only are fewer video streams pulled across the corporate internet connection, but less video is traveling the full distance from source to viewer. This reduces the overall volume of traffic on the network. Storing streaming video closer to viewers also reduces buffering and latency and speeds up start times.
Because the video has less distance to travel, it encounters fewer opportunities to be impacted by the effects of network performance. Viewers enjoy higher playback quality and a better overall viewing experience.
The key benefits of Ramp OmniCache™ include:
- No client software or plugin required
- Supports any video source, any device & any player technology
- Best option for mobile devices
- Self-discoverable, self-healing for exceptional resiliency
- Content pre-positioning allows video to be pushed to the cache during periods of low network activity
- Software-defined networking (SDN) deploys independent of the streaming platform
- Deploys 100% behind the firewall, does not require connection to a cloud controller to operate
Peer-to-peer (P2P) networking decentralizes video distribution by utilizing the personal devices already available on the network. Once a viewer requests a video, it becomes available on that client device. Then other viewers requesting the same video can retrieve it from that device rather than the originating source.
As more viewers consume the video, it becomes more widely available through a larger number of P2P hosts. In this manner, P2P becomes a highly efficient model at scale, as additional infrastructure develops dynamically in correlation with demand.
The key benefits of Ramp P2P include:
- Cloud-based or on-premises option for ultimate control
- 80-95% bandwidth optimization
- GDPR compliant and secure
- Supports any HTML5 (HLS or DASH) video
- WebRTC, no client software or plugins required
- Analytics to measure results and detect issues
- Automatically detects users watching the same content to redistribute streaming video
Ramp: The eCDN for All
At Ramp, we are 100% devoted to video distribution behind the firewall, and we want to help you choose the right eCDN—or combination of eCDNs—for your enterprise.
Ramp is the first and first and only video distribution provider to offer all three eCDN technologies—multicasting, video caching, and peer-to-peer (P2P) networking. With Ramp, you can mix and match eCDN solutions to get the best bandwidth optimization at every location on your network.
Ramp eCDN software deploys behind your firewall on existing infrastructure, scales easily as demand for video grows, and maintains enterprise security policies. With centralized management, monitoring and insightful analytics, you get unprecedented visibility into and control over network performance to deliver an uninterrupted, high-quality viewer experience.
Hone Your Enterprise Video Game Plan
This new era of “business video awareness” is fundamentally transforming how video is used in the workplace. Beyond choosing the right enterprise streaming platform and eCDN, there are a number of other factors you need to consider as you bring employees—and video—back to work. Read Wainhouse Research’s Converting New Video Awareness into a Lasting Video Advantage to learn all about them.
In this white paper, Wainhouse Research outlines 10 strategies that your organization should keep in mind as you develop tactics for delivering on a video approach that meets the demands for this new era in business communications.