Enabling Remote Employees with High Quality Video Intelligently Routing Video to Users in the Global Enterprise
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Enabling Remote Employees with High Quality Video Intelligently routing video to users in the global enterprise.
Let’s face it – video consumes more bandwidth than just about anything else, and just about any IT manager will say they have concerns about video on the corporate network. On the other hand, video is fast becoming the best way to enable remote employees to do their job, and remain competitive, with globally distributed workforces. The simple fact is that companies need to overcome barriers to leveraging video. Employees need access, and they need it from any device they choose to use. In many companies, a central portal exists for employees to easily search for and view video and related content. Video is also being embedded in business-specific applications. But, once employees begin to access the video streams, IT struggles to make sure it plays seamlessly for everyone. There are many aspects of mobile device management and security. In this paper, we focus on the bandwidth constraint challenges for delivery of live and on-demand video content. We address the complexities of available bandwidth, various network connection types, and supporting a multitude of devices. We will investigate powerful methods for content preparation and “smart routing” of video and related business content.
Business Goals for Enablement of Employees
The increasingly wired world enables collaboration among teams from all over the globe and with flexible work arrangements. For managers, the challenge is putting a human face on it. Video does just that. It personalizes communication and lessens barriers of distance and time zones. While video communications solutions can contribute value in many areas, the highest value use cases for enabling remote employees are the ones where knowledge workers can discover and exchange information: 1. Dynamic training on-demand 2. Team collaboration and connectedness 3. Corporate communication and community building 4. Compliance standards 5. Sales and marketing team dynamic video presentation tools
“By 2016, large companies will stream more than 16 hours of video per worker, per month.” —Whit Andrews, vice president, distinguished analyst, Gartner (MarketScope for Video Content Management and Delivery, April 13, 2012)
Main Points ●● Deliver video with location awareness. ●● Understand variations in device types for viewing video – especially mobile. ●● Different audience types require different video streams. ●● Support distribution inside and outside the corporate firewall. ●● Save bandwidth and CDN costs.
“The popularity of YouTube and other videosharing sites inspires organizations to share videos with workers, partners, clients and prospects and to seek products and services that facilitate business goals, such as support, training, marketing and executive messaging.” —Whit Andrews, vice president, distinguished analyst, Gartner (MarketScope for Video Content Management and Delivery, April 13, 2012)
Use Cases for Video Consumption ●● Employees watch all hands meetings live from their smartphone ●● Field agents access video tutorials on-demand ●● Executive teams consume video information from anywhere on iPads ●● Sales reps use tablets to access sales videos at customer sites ●● Employees view training videos from home ●● Distributed project teams collaborate ●● Video portals provide self-help to reduce help desk calls
Why Intelligent Routing Matters
In all of the above use cases, video has become an essential element of communications, and organizations want to use and deploy video to mobile workers. A key function of an enterprise video platform solution is to make video more easily available at the highest available quality, without impacting the network. In other words, allow video consumption by as many constituents, on as many devices, while being a good network citizen for IT.
Who is the Target Audience?
It is important to know your audience. What department do they work in? What are their access rights? What are the characteristics of the network(s) they use? Will it be necessary to adjust bandwidth allocations differently for some individuals or audience groups? For most companies, employees are represented in groups in an LDAP directory. By tapping into this directory, it is possible to set bandwidth limits for particular groups.
Where are Viewers Located?
Another critical understanding is where your audience is located geographically. Are they viewing from offices in New York, London or Singapore? What type of network access do they have at each location? Video delivery systems should automatically select the right quality level for video based on these types of considerations. It is also important to work with legacy, as well as with all adaptive streaming formats, to intelligently cap the maximum bitrate to prevent network congestion and interference with non-video traffic on the corporate network.
What Devices are Being Used?
This one is not difficult to do and there are many solutions on the market for detecting device type. But, because there are so many variations in formats supported by different devices, and new devices with new capabilities will be introduced in the future, it is critical to make sure that the rules for device identification are not “hardcoded,” and are flexible, and can be extended easily. Your video solution needs to know what video formats are supported on various devices, so viewers never get that annoying “video cannot be played by your device” message.
Combining Audience Characteristics
A critical best practice is to setup business rules that combine all three of these audience characteristics. These business rules then need to be built into your video distribution solution to automatically adjust the type of video streams for different audiences. It needs to scale to support tens to tens of thousands of viewers, combining information about each individual’s location, rights, and device to provide the best quality video stream possible based on known elements.
Distribution Infrastructure Considerations
As video becomes easier to create and more pervasive on corporate networks, IT organizations are concerned about how to optimize the increased traffic. And, especially when it comes to the enablement of employees who change locations frequently, it is important to understand how content distribution networks can be effectively leveraged.
A public CDN speeds up delivery of data objects over the internet by caching content at edge locations around the globe, so that end users, or website visitors, are requesting content from servers within their region, instead of coming back to origin servers. For example, Akamai has more than 95,000 secure servers around the globe and is deployed in 71 countries. AT&T's ACDN offers a similar wide reach.
Hybrid Approach for Enabling Mobile Employees
In large organizations, there are many reasons multiple internal and external CDNs exist. Acquisitions are a common one. Geography is another. Cost is another. There may be a Cisco CDN used as the primary network setup for US headquarters and other primary regional US locations, and a Blue Coat CDN leveraged for EMEA offices. Perhaps there are additional offices in both regions leveraging Qumu VideoNet on Riverbed Steelhead devices to extend the reach of video to more locations. Additionally, a public CDN may be leveraged for offices that do not have access to the corporate CDN.
Mobile workers will often switch corporate CDNs Internet CDN when traveling between offices. And, there are times cloud Multiple Devices when they are not near any physical office and will Video Content Management need to leverage a public Enterprise CDN CDN. To ensure flexibility, Employees it is best that your video distribution solution be able to push content to multiple Multiple Devices VideoNet CDNs simultaneously, and that it can associate audience Enterprise CDNs members with multiple An enterprise CDN is a set delivery networks to allow of appliances that provide wide area network optimization, and allow IT to more granularly manage the flow of video traffic across dynamic routing of a viewer request to any CDN they have access their networks. As the volume of video traffic increases, the fees to at the time. associated with relying on external CDN providers often become cost prohibitive. Setting up an internal CDN network, with appliances in various office locations, eliminates these external CDN fees and provides a secure way of distributing video to network edge locations throughout the enterprise. Examples of enterprise CDN technologies include Blue Coat, Cisco ECDS, and Qumu VideoNet, running either standalone or on Riverbed Steelheads.
When enabling mobile workers for video, we must consider the amount of time they are nowhere near a physical office and are relying exclusively on 3G/4G network connections from their wireless carrier. Video delivered to mobile devices with 3G/4G connections must be managed to reduce data transmission costs and to ensure good viewing or uploading experience. Your video solution must provide a way to dynamically serve multiple versions of the video depending on the userâ€™s connection, and other criteria. This ensures these 3G/4G users will get the best quality experience possible wherever they are. Essentially, content preparation prior to publishing becomes critical.
The Importance of Content Preparation
With so many variances to consider for mobile workers, content preparation becomes a very critical factor for success. The primary process within content preparation is transcoding. The role of transcoding is to take a single video asset uploaded by the user and produce multiple renditions of the same file with different formats, video dimensions, and quality (bitrate). This, in turn, will allow the delivery system to serve a proper format and bitrate to each mobile or stationary device on the internal or external network. In order to provide a reliable and scalable solution, your video solution needs to incorporate an automated transcoding workflow. This way, every time a new video is added to the library, it is automatically transcoded, in a “one to many” fashion, to as many formats and bit rate versions as your pre-determined rules specify. Looking across all these business goals, what must an enterprise mobile video distribution solution provide?
The Qumu Pathfinder product is an extension of the Qumu Video Control Center – providing central management of video assets and intelligent distribution to a heterogeneous set of desktops and mobile devices. Qumu's patent pending Pathfinder technology provides the most intelligent solution available for prepping and routing video content to viewers - without administrative burden. It provides the following key functions:
Intelligent Content Routing
Qumu Pathfinder allows administrators to ensure that users at network locations with limited bandwidth capacity automatically get lower bit rate files.
Qumu Pathfinder goes beyond just routing video content based on network characteristics. It integrates with corporate user directories (LDAP, Active Directory) and Identity Management (SAML) systems so that rules can incorporate groups. For example, bitrate ceiling limits can be set higher for members of the facilities group (if facilities managers frequently login to setup webcast presentation on large screens in meeting rooms), and lower for the rest of the employees connected to the same network segment.
Device Appropriate Formats
Users will not have to select a file format appropriate for their device. Qumu Pathfinder automatically does this using its customizable device-detection rules. It dynamically recognizes the type of device a user is connecting from and routes the appropriate format for that device. Qumu Pathfinder is flexible, with the ability to add new rules for the devices of the future.
Viewers automatically receive the appropriate asset from the management system (multiple versions of a video with different formats and bitrates exist for content items). For the viewer, it is seamless. The video experience is optimized and the only thing the viewer has to consider is the message being delivered.
With adaptive streaming protocols such as Apple HLS and Microsoft Smooth Streaming, it is common to include high quality/ high bitrate streams along with lower quality/low bitrate streams in the same bundle (playlist). This allows users with good network connections to experience high quality video. But when users
Qumu Pathfinder Use Cases: 1. Same network – different devices. Control multiple devices connected to the same WiFi network differently. A laptop’s bitrate cap can be higher than an iPhone’s. 2. Same device – different networks. Employees connecting from the same device type, but in different office locations. Those in an office with a CDN edge device have a higher bitrate cap than those in an office where video traffic is going over the WAN. 3. Same network – PCs vs. Virtual desktops. With virtual desktops all traffic goes through the same channel so bitrate caps for video must be set extremely low. In the same office, however, PC users can have much higher bitrate limits. 4. Same network – same device – different people. Managers or customer-facing salespeople can be allocated more bandwidth than other employees in the same location to ensure they always receive the best available viewing experience. Similarly, facilities managers who often setup large viewing sessions can have higher bitrate limits.
access such streams on bandwidth-constrained segments their players also try to receive the highest quality stream. This can lead to excessive allocation of the bandwidth for video, thus slowing down other tasks requiring network traffic. Dynamically excluding higher bitrate streams from adaptive streaming bundles prevents this from happening. Qumu Pathfinder can intelligently exclude higher bitrates from the manifest - preventing network congestion and interference with non-video traffic. Qumu Pathfinder works with legacy as well as with all adaptive streaming formats.
Qumu Pathfinder works seamlessly with the Qumu Video Control Center’s (VCC) capability to simultaneously route to multiple CDNs. This includes corporate CDNs such as Blue Coat, Cisco, Riverbed, and Qumu VideoNet, as well as internet CDNs such as Akamai, Amazon Cloudfront, or AT&T's ACDN. Live webcast events are simultaneously pushed to multiple CDNs via multicast and/or unicast. Video on-demand assets are pre-positioned at the edge of the network before the first viewer request is received – optimizing the end user’s video experience. If a public CDN is used, low-cost Qumu VideoNet Edge devices can be deployed to reduce public CDN costs. This is done by taking a single video stream from the public CDN and splitting it locally at the edge.
2 Pathfinder notes viewer's location
Network Location, LDAP and Client detection
Therefore, regardless of the number of users at that location, for the purposes of the public CDN cost, the customer only pays for one. Qumu Pathfinder automatically adjusts the type of video streams for audiences from tens to tens of thousands of members, combining information about each individual’s location, rights, and device to provide the best quality video stream possible. For live webcasts, Qumu Pathfinder supports transparent failover that ensures that the viewer continues to watch a webcast even when there was a failure along the video delivery route. Qumu Pathfinder is natively built into the Qumu VCC product and is available as software, hardened appliance, or as a managed service in the Cloud.
Qumu Pathfinder Benefits ●● Ease of Administration - Setup rules once; Pathfinder takes care of the rest. ●● Reduced Cost - Smart Pathfinder rules reduce traffic over public CDNs and 3G/4G data networks. ●● Mobile Support - Pathfinder tames the unruly world of BYOD (bring your own device) - supporting iOS devices, Android and Windows phones.
After ingest, Pathfinder prepares all content
Network Location: 10.1200.00/24 Bitrate cap = 500 Kbps
Pathfinder determines device type
WMV: 400 kbps 800 kbps
Smooth: 200 kbps 500 kbps 1200 kbps
Flash: 400 kbps 800 kbps
HLS: 200 kbps 500 kbps 1200 kbps
Device Type = iPad OS = iOS Browser = Safari/iPad Pathfinder queries LDAP for group rules
Mp4: 400 kbps 800 kbps
Pathfinder Rules Engine
Selected: HLS / 500 kbps
4 LDAP Groups Bitrate cap = 500 kbps
Qumu Pathfinder Solution Overview
Known Device Types
Pathfinder presents correct content
Enhance Corporate Communication ●● Communication is immediate. Employees receive information instantly and do not have to wait to get back to the office before viewing the latest video webcast communication. ●● Quality control is managed. Viewers receive the highest quality video experience possible based on their network type, connection and role. ●● Employees become more connected. Video provides linkages between people that often do not exist without in-person connections. ●● No one is left out. Regardless of physical location, network connection or personal device, everyone has access to collaborate with video.
Video delivery to today’s mobile workers has a few deficiencies. These fuel unnecessary bandwidth consumption and degrade the user experience and network performance for other applications. To truly reap the business value of video communications, enterprise video solutions must not only create dynamic interactions for viewers, but must also address the architectural network concepts for distributing video to a variety of network types successfully. Qumu Pathfinder optimizes mobile video performance and makes it possible for everyone – regardless of location, connection or device – to create a more connected enterprise community with video.
Qumu, Inc., a Rimage company based in San Bruno, California, is the leading business video platform provider, empowering organizations to better engage and inspire employees, improve productivity, and reduce costs. Video is pervasive - it appears in all business applications and is consumed on all devices. The largest Global 1000 companies depend on Qumu's video platform to capture, manage, and distribute live and on-demand content with total reliability and security. Regardless of audience size, viewer device, or network configuration, Qumu simply makes video work. Only Qumu delivers the Freedom to work with existing infrastructure; the Power to reach everyone; and the Control to do it right.
Visit www.qumu.com to access more white papers and case studies on how Qumu is advancing the mobile video experience. If you have a question about Qumu mobile video solutions, please email firstname.lastname@example.org or call 866-654-8333.