March 8, 2022 - Video remains the fastest-growing source of traffic on enterprise networks. Companies are using video in many ways. The importance of video as a tool to assist organizations in meeting their business objectives cannot be understated. A growing number of enterprises today rely on video to share important information with employees, and other stakeholders, to access training material and policy updates while staying up to date with business, weather, and general news reporting. It is emerging as a critical tool in a volatile business landscape that requires a high level of situational awareness to support real-time decision-making. The applications are endless.
However, the reliance on video forces many businesses to reevaluate their enterprise networks and find ways to improve capacity to handle the increase in video applications in day-to-day business. Video is a bandwidth-intensive and latency-sensitive application. It can quickly consume precious network issues if it is not properly managed.
According to a BTR-100 survey by VITEC—a leading worldwide end-to-end video streaming solutions provider for broadcast, military, government, enterprise, sports, and entertainment—the vast majority, 93%, of enterprise technology executives reported that video traffic in their organization is growing because of end-user demand and has required capacity upgrades to their networks.
Business and technology leaders essentially have two options for meeting the growing demand for video content at work. They can either increase capacity or find ways to optimize current resources.
Increasing capacity can be costly. It often entails buying new servers, new transcoders, and an upgrade of equipment to build out their infrastructure. In contrast, solutions are now available that optimize existing network infrastructure to make it more cost-efficient and more operationally effective.
If we talk about how video is delivered across the enterprise network, it often boils down to a dependency on plugins used by desktops or laptops—the typical device on which the user experiences the content. In recent years, plugins emerged as a convenient way to stream video content to a desktop browser over an internet protocol (IP) network. It represented a great alternative to using expensive dedicated video network resources (staff, network, and devices) that were previously required to provide video to employees. In fact, the advent of IPTV, with the availability of plugins that enabled multicast delivery, democratized access to video, allowing a much broader segment of the workforce to cost-effectively benefit from this category of content.
As organizations became more dependent on multicast video, cyber security staff became increasingly aware of the fact that these plugins required updates or upgrades and often introduced a considerable level of risk if not properly managed. Concerns about the inherent risk of plugins prompted the top internet browser providers—including Google, Apple, and Microsoft—to stop supporting plugins altogether.
The end of plugin support turned out to be a problematic development for organizations because many enterprise networks relied on them for multicast delivery of content to their users. The removal of browser plugins forced them to shift gears and seek alternate video solutions, including unicast delivery or the development of proprietary approaches to video delivery.
However, unicast delivery and proprietary solutions have challenges. Proprietary—or customized—solutions are expensive to develop and require a level of expertise to be present in the organization. Most organizations lack access to these resources.
With unicast, every person that watches video content must interact directly with each individual stream. The net effect is that this exponentially compounds the amount of video traffic flowing through enterprise networks. This is especially true when multiple users watch the same content. As an example, if 1,000 users were accessing a 3Mbps video stream in a unicast delivery, that could require 3Gbs of capacity compared to a multicast delivery that would only require 3Mbps. This becomes extremely expensive and compromises the performance of other mission-critical data and applications fighting for bandwidth on the network. In the end, it is not a sustainable solution.
It requires organizations to respond by limiting the amount of video delivered through the network, reducing the number of people who can access video content, or worse-case scenario, a combination of both. It is not an ideal situation as video becomes a more and more valuable way of delivering content.
Multicast technology plays a critical role in delivering high-quality video for enterprise purposes. When plugins were no longer supported on the most popular browsers, as business video delivery specialists, VITEC still viewed multicast as the best solution for delivering video content across enterprise networks and patented our Multicast-to-the-Edge™ (MttE) technology.
This technology essentially brings back the multicast ability that existed before support for plugins was discontinued. It allows video content to flow to any number of users—whether you've got ten users, a hundred users, or a thousand users—in a cost-efficient and technically effective manner, even when they all pull down the same stream of live content.
Multicast-to-the-Edge doesn't require plugins, and it lets an enterprise cost-effectively use its existing multicast network to continue delivering business critical video content across the network.
VITEC engages with enterprises to make sure they can effectively manage infrastructure and video content in an effective and cost-efficient manner. VITEC's IPTV platforms are flexible, robust, and scalable to fit any enterprise need. We can start with a simple platform, and as the company grows and develops, we can expand the platform to offer additional video solutions like video on-demand, video archiving functionality, and digital signage.
In fact, we expect digital signage to play an increasingly important role in organizational facilities as people in the public and private sector begin returning to work and going to public venues—like stadiums. It is a terrific and flexible way to communicate important messages about organizational policies and expectations, while also delivering interesting information that engages facility visitors in a productive manner.
Our survey revealed that 71% of enterprise networks are currently using digital signage, and we expect the new normal to catapult digital signage to new levels as the need to communicate about things like physical distancing and safety precautions rises.
VITEC solutions continue to evolve as enterprise needs shift. It's exciting to see how video content shapes the way enterprises engage with key stakeholders—including employees, customers, and suppliers—to advance important business objectives.
by Bryan Reksten, VP of Marketing, VITEC