Enterprise IT organizations are struggling to keep up with the surge in traffic for delivering video to employee tablets, laptops and desktops without compromising network performance.
Many organizations were faced with the choice of scaling back their video applications or investing in unicast video delivery strategies that have added significant costs while overloading network and IT infrastructure resources. Last year, VITEC announced the availability of its Multicast-to-the-Edge® solution for standard browsers, which has re-introduced the efficiency and performance benefits of multicast video distribution across enterprise environments.
Multicast-to-the-Edge® is VITEC’s patented technology to provide the most efficient delivery of video streams. This technology is the basis for our next generation IPTV browser player called EZ TV Player Lite.
- In the last few years, all major browser vendors announced that they would stop supporting NPAPI type browser plugins and legacy application extensions. This resulted with various enterprise-grade application including video-centric ones not able to deliver live multicast video to users’ browsers.
- Most vendors in the enterprise space ended up dropping multicast support and many enterprises opted to go with unicast delivery solutions based on the natively supported streaming formats (such as Flash HLS and AV1).
- Multicast-to-the- Edge® allows organizations to use their existing multicast content and existing network configurations to deliver live, multicast video directly to any workstation, laptop, or mobile device in sub-second glass-to-glass delay with no browser extensions or browser plugins.
- VITEC is creating new opportunities for organizations across industries to re-embrace multicast delivery on an enterprise-wide scale.
- Without Multicast-to-the- Edge® organizations are faced with costs that rise with increased usage of video. The more channels and users are supported, the more video transcoding and/or unicast distribution servers are needed.
To understand and appreciate the VITEC innovation, we need to look at what the enterprise video market has gone through in the last two decades.
In the early days, video delivery to large user bases either in local area networks or to remote users—used the MPEG1 standard and a dedicated hardware decoder, or a dedicated software player, because computer CPUs at that time on computers were not powerful enough to process video. In some instances, software players were accelerated by PCI video decoding cards.
As CPUs matured and browsers became more sophisticated, companies started utilizing browser plugins and browser extensions to build integrated video playback solutions. Operating systems and browsers began focusing on over-the-top delivery via the internet using buffered video formats and were less concerned with optimizing the way enterprises deliver video within their private networks. However, enterprises continued to focus on MPEG to generate video and multicasting for its one-to-many efficiency on the network side.
As video and protocols like Flash, Silverlight, and HLS evolved, new technologies emerged. These technologies sensed network capability and adapted to variances in the quality of service and bandwidth to deliver the most optimized quality based on the data link performance.
These technologies were great for streaming video over the internet, but not so great for the enterprise space due to the redundancy in content being duplicated to all users and the high delay associated with the buffered streaming protocols. Enterprises had to rely on homegrown solutions—including extensions or browser plugins.
Several years ago, Google, Apple and Microsoft announced that they would stop supporting plugins and extensions. Other browser providers made similar announcements with no consistency on impact or end of support dates. This killed the option—and viability—of dedicated multicast video applications for the enterprise, which in turn had serious ramifications for video-centric private organizations and federal entities that relied heavily on plugins and extensions for delivering video effectively to its local area network users.
Most vendors in the enterprise space ended up dropping multicast support and many enterprises opted to go with unicast delivery solutions based on the natively supported streaming formats (such as RTMP, HLS and MPEG-DASH).
The problem is that these solutions were not designed for enterprise delivery and introduced a lot of challenges for IT professionals. For instance,
- Most source feeds for enterprise organizations originate as MPEG-multicast transport streams. Over-the-Top solutions require the purchase of installed hardware to transcode and change formats. This can be very expensive.
- Unique customer solutions create a dedicated session for each user that consumes a stream of video. This elevates network bandwidth requirements and can quickly become unmanageable. For many organizations it is just not practical and will not scale.
- In order to deliver video streams to many different endpoints, dedicated video streaming servers are required, which can become a major financial expense.
- And finally, internet protocols are often buffered which can result in playback delays that are far from ideal. It can be a showstopper for real-time applications — like those in the breaking news, military, sports and medical environments.
This is where the VITEC Multicast-to-the-Edge® solution comes in. We address the needs of enterprise video streaming with an innovative browser agnostic solution that is a user-friendly, intuitive, HTML5 interface combined with the ability to continue using the benefits of multicasting and IGMP as the stream format for the browser player.
The ability to reach the end user—or the edge as we refer to it—with the original multicast video, via the EZ TV Player Lite, which requires no plugins or browser extensions, makes our solution easy to deploy and manage, plus it is the most IT-friendly in terms of bandwidth utilization and costs.
This is important because it provides organizations with a straightforward plug-and-play solution. Enterprises do not have to change their networks or move away from protocols that are already in place.
Moreover, VITEC has engineered this solution to minimize latency during the video decoding process. As a result, it is a high-performance video solution that can be rapidly deployed, easily maintained, and inexpensively scaled.
Due to the requirement to move off plugins, many organizations abandoned multicast and were forced to adopt unicast video delivery strategies. This had dramatic implications from both an economic and operational perspective.
They experienced increased costs, decreased performance, and tied up network resources as dedicated network resources were diverted to support unicast video streams. Many needed to upgrade their network infrastructure, IT rooms and server rooms to accommodate for the additional transcoding machines and the hardware required for streaming. It also affected the end users’ experience. Employees accustomed to seeing video in real-time were now getting big delays because of buffering.
VITEC took all these challenges into consideration when designing Multicast-to-the-Edge® in creating new opportunities for organizations across industries to re-embrace multicast delivery on an enterprise-wide scale. For example, broadcast, military, medical, and sports venues typically have control rooms with equipment to generate MPEG multicast. We can come in and map those existing multicast channels. If they are encrypted, we can support the encryption aspect. We do not require any major architecture change on the network.
Our solution is effective because we let the network handle the distribution of video traffic using the Internet Group Management Protocol (IGMP). We do not require additional infrastructure. If you need us to generate the stream, we provide encoding equipment. If you already have the streams, our powerful browser based HTML5 IPTV Player is interoperable with every type of MPEG video.
Multicast-to-the-Edge® produces exponential savings for organizations that require enterprise-wide video streaming solutions. Without it, organizations are faced with costs that rise with increased utilization. It gets expensive fast.
With the VITEC approach, we are agnostic to the number of users, workstations, laptops, iPads, Android devices or phones you have. Everything we do is multicast based, which means that our scalable solutions are fixed no matter how many channels and users must be supported.
This is an immense benefit for organizations with employees who require video as part of their day-to-day jobs. It significantly enhances enterprise investments in IPTV distribution systems, which allow organizations to bring high-quality, low latency video experiences to desktops and laptops, without the need for further investments in physical hardware, set top boxes or smart TVs.