Enterprise Video Delivery and the Benefits of the Decentralized Approach

Lubomir Chorbadjiev, CTO, Viblast
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Lubomir Chorbadjiev, CTO, Viblast

When it comes to live video streaming within enterprises, there is no universal approach, let alone a standard solution. However, there are four distinct points, from which the search for a solution starts—the things enterprises do not make compromises with:

•    Security
•    Scalability
•    Integration
•    Quality

All of the above are vast themes for discussion, i.e. there are many things to be said and considered, and there are even more things that derive from them.

What we are going to focus on in the following article is not to try to explain the complexity of those things and reach the point where it is, indeed, all relative, but to examine something rather simple - the network resources and what can be done with them so that the network performance improves. We are going to address particularly the decentralization of those resources.

How can the network resources be decentralized and the network—offloaded?

By using P2P—pure or hybrid (peer-assisted delivery in combination with a CDN).

What makes the decentralized/P2P approach effective is that:

•    The centralized resources are offloaded.
•    The network load is distributed between the peer nodes (who are equally privileged).
•    The bottleneck between the office/building and the CDN is removed.
•    It is a self-scalable solution that, if designed well, can work seamlessly both with 5 and with 50 000 viewers.
•    It is secure—it doesn’t expose the end-users’ devices to any additional malware/virus risk and content never leaves the corporate network.
•    The offload of the centralized resources reach nearly 100% percent in the best-case scenario.
•    It cooperates with your network infrastructure. Thus, saving you the complexity of changing it entirely while still improving it substantially.
•    It is software defined which makes the integration effortless on the client-side. Moreover, the lack of hardware in the solution is a real time-saver.
•    It is friendly to new technologies, e.g. if WebRTC is used, you will need no plugins, which also adds great quality to the solution when it comes to integration.

This is a situation to describe the state of the enterprise network without P2P:

For example, 15 employees have to attend a live streaming event (e.g. a webinar) once a month, and need to watch a 2mbit stream. However, they are connected to a CDN with 10mbit connection. Thus, they wouldn’t be able to watch the stream because they would need 20mbit more.

Why the P2P approach is effective in this case:

•    Typically, the 10mbit CDN connection is enough for their daily job.
•    It uses already existing resources—if the employees share 1gbit LAN connection between each other, these connections can be used to decentralize the central load of the network. Thus, the overall network performance is improved and no extra resources are used.

“The P2P solution has one great asset—the more the peers are in a network (and the better the connection between them is), the better the video quality is”

This is how the aforementioned situation looks like in a different scenario:

With the P2P approach, only some of the viewers are connected to the CDN and fetch the stream directly from it. While watching the video, they share part of their resources (chunks of the stream) with the other peers in their office network.

Now, the numbers are the same: 15 employees, 2mbit stream, 10mbit connection to a CDN.

The situation, however, is different—only 1 or 2 of the 15 employees are downloading the stream from the CDN. Thus, they use maximum 4mbit of their 10mbit connection and have 6mbit extra. Since they share it with the others—using the LAN connections, everyone watches a seamlessly running stream with great quality.

No extra resources are used and the network is highly optimized. Moreover, the P2P solution has one great asset—the more the peers are in a network (and the better the connection between them is), the better the video quality is.

All in all, the decentralized approach improves your network in three important ways. It gives you:

•    Better performance (resulting in high video quality and high QoE)
•    Fast implementation (effortless and time-saving integration)
•    A lot of benefits (for example, real-time data monitoring and analytics)

How does it work?

Every viewer shares part of the stream with the other nodes (peers in the same LAN) while watching it. Thus, the CDN is not the only source of the stream.

When a viewer wants to watch a video stream, the player connects to the tracker. Then the tracker returns a list of other peers that can be used as sources of the stream.

Once the peers are connected, they start sharing chunks of the stream among each other.

Moreover, the P2P solution can be hybrid—it can use both the centralized and the P2P resources, i.e. the nodes can fetch the stream both from the central server and from the other peers in their network.

In conclusion, the P2P solution:

•    solves last-mile video delivery problems
•    offers great optimization of the network resources
•    has effortless integration on the client-side
•    is secure—Viblast ePDN supports DRM and HLS AES encryption,  content never leaves the corporate network and Viblast ePDN can never get access to employee work stations and data

All in all, it faces not only the problems enterprises have when it comes to live video streaming, but also meets their requirements for an effective streaming solution. Thus, becoming one truly valuable addition to the list of video streaming solutions and we can not only hope, but also predict that it will reach its top.

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