Building Consensus on Enterprise Video
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Building Consensus on Enterprise Video

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The use of online video in the enterprise is not a new subject, but it seems to have an endless ability to create friction amongst key stakeholders in the organization. Though every company has a......

The use of online video in the enterprise is not a new subject, but it seems to have an endless ability to create friction amongst key stakeholders in the organization. Though every company has a different dialogue under way about video, the typical discussion involves line of business (LOB) managers, media professionals, and IT managers. Each group has its own distinct and serious point of view on the topic, and true agreement is rare. The media department generally favors expanded capacity for video, as demand for the medium in the corporate space is growing dramatically. At the same time, the IT department has a legitimate concern that more video use will create problems in the network infrastructure. And, LOB people may be reluctant to foot the bill for the video capability, especially if quality and reach are uncertain. This three-way tug of war begins to look different, however, in light of recent developments in multicast technology. This paper will explore how the advent of multicast fusion on the Adobe® Flash® Platform brings a new perspective to this familiar dynamic, offering a solution that satisfies the business and technical needs of each stakeholder group.

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  • 1. Building Consensus on Enterprise VideoBy Kevin Towes, Senior Product Manager at Adobe Systems and Greg Pulier, President of MediaPlatform, Inc.Abstract: The use of online video in the enterprise is not a new subject, but it seems to have an endless ability tocreate friction amongst key stakeholders in the organization. Though every company has a different dialogue underway about video, the typical discussion involves line of business (LOB) managers, media professionals, and ITmanagers. Each group has its own distinct and serious point of view on the topic, and true agreement is rare. Themedia department generally favors expanded capacity for video, as demand for the medium in the corporate space isgrowing dramatically. At the same time, the IT department has a legitimate concern that more video use will createproblems in the network infrastructure. And, LOB people may be reluctant to foot the bill for the video capability,especially if quality and reach are uncertain. This three-way tug of war begins to look different, however, in light ofrecent developments in multicast technology. This paper will explore how the advent of multicast fusion on theAdobe® Flash® Platform brings a new perspective to this familiar dynamic, offering a solution that satisfies thebusiness and technical needs of each stakeholder group.IntroductionThe use of online video in the enterprise environment has reached an inflection point. It’s no longer anoptional or “nice to have” feature of corporate life. It’s a key ingredient of communication, training,collaboration, and management. This development is not necessarily viewed as good news by everyoneinvolved in the delivery of video in the enterprise, however. While media professionals may be pleasedthat video is becoming increasingly prevalent, two other stakeholder groups are potentially stressed by theincrease in video consumption. Video is often perceived as a costly hassle by the Information Technology(IT) department, which is tasked with delivering video through constrained infrastructure, and line-of-business (LOB) managers who must pay for the infrastructure upgrades necessitated by video.These three groups – media professionals, IT, and LOBmanagers – must come together to reach a consensus on The use of online video inhow to proceed with video in the enterprise. It is no longer a the enterprise environmenttopic that can be relegated to futuristic visions. Video is herenow. How much video will the enterprise really consume? has reached an inflectionHow much infrastructure will be required? How much will it point. It’s no longer ancost? And of course, who will pay for it? These areimportant questions that must be answered. The price tag optional or “nice to have”for video is potentially staggering: According to Gartner,companies that want to keep up with the building demand feature of corporate life.for video will have to increase their network capacity by afactor of 100!1 Yet, this need not be the case. The good newsis that recent developments in video streaming technology,in particular the new multicast fusion capability on the Adobe® Flash® Platform, changes the rules of thisdiscussion. While previously, there was a clear correlation between increases in video consumption andinfrastructure investment, this need not be the case any longer. Multicast fusion enables pervasive1 Steinert-Threlkeld, Tom – “Video Will Require 100X Boost to Corporate Nets, Gartner Says” – Securities TechnologyMonitor, 17 November, 2010 Page 1
  • 2. The jump in video use ispenetration of video and significant streaming capacitywithout requiring commensurate increases in network driven by advances in videocapacity or cost. This paper will examine the underlying technology as well as recentfactors driving the discussion and highlight possible ways forthe three stakeholder groups to reach consensus on video and shifts in business operatingmove forward with clarity and unity of purpose. patterns and workplace behavior.Enterprise Video TodayThe use of online video is growing rapidly within corporations. Industry data shows that video consumptioninside the corporate firewall is growing at an unprecedented rate, following consumer trends of the pastfew years. Approximately 12% of large enterprises were generating more than 100 hours of video contentper month in 2009, up from 9% in 2008. The number of corporations generating 25-100 hours of videojumped from 21% to 29% in the same period.2 At that rate, a company could have amassed a 6,000-hourlibrary of video since 2005. In the consumer public, video as a percentage of Internet traffic is projected toreach 91% by 20143, with corporate network traffic likely to mimic that consumer pattern. GartnerResearch projects that 25% of content that workers see in a day will be dominated by pictures, video, oraudio by 2013.4 The surge in video production affects both live and on-demand (VOD) uses of the medium.Video has crossed the boundary between “nice to have” and “have to have.” The jump in video use isdriven by advances in video technology as well as recent shifts in business operating patterns andworkplace behavior. As corporations grow more global and virtual, information workers have a greaterneed to collaborate and communicate through rich media. In many cases, video is the best way to achievea specific business result, such as training, on a limited budget. Cuts in travel budgets, as well asenvironmental pressure to reduce travel and facilities costs, are also driving video consumption. And, it’snot just young people who are turning to video for collaboration and communication processes. Consumerbehaviors, encouraged by YouTube and other popular media experiences, are influencing the workplaceand people of all ages.Stakeholder Dynamics Surrounding Enterprise VideoAt the risk of being too simplistic, it’s possible to identify three core stakeholder groups that are typicallyinvolved in the discussion of enterprise video. Media professionals are tasked with producing videos,webcasts, virtual meetings, and comparable business applications of rich media. LOB managers run thebusiness units that drive the creation of rich media. LOB managers oversee information workers who usevideo in their collaboration and communication processes. They use video for marketing, training, andexecutive communication. IT managers are responsible for the network, and the related IT infrastructure,that supports video throughout the enterprise.The dynamics between these three groups are potentially fractious. Each group has a different set ofconstraints and business incentives that puts them out of alignment on the subject of video. Media2 Interactive Media Strategies Executive Web Communications Survey, Q4 20093 Cisco Visual Network Index 20094 Gartner Data 2008 Page 2
  • 3. professionals generally favor video and encourage its expansion. Overall, LOB managers appreciate videoand want to see it used appropriately, especially if it benefits productivity and corporate cohesion. At thesame time, LOB managers are usually circumspect about the kind of IT investment that has traditionallybeen required to keep up with growth in video use. IT managers, in turn, are frequently conflicted aboutvideo. They may or may not like it as a technology, but they want to provide the services that LOB clientsrequest. However, the costs involved are substantial, and the pressure to deliver a service that requiresmassive investment is stressful.Current Technological Limits to Video in the EnterpriseNetwork capacity is the number one issue affecting the three-way dialogue about video. Online video is nota friend of the corporate network. Video’s massive bandwidth consumption can disrupt network traffic andhog infrastructure resources. And, of course, it’s growing. According to Gartner, video communicationaccounted for 30% of corporate network traffic in 2010, up from 15% in 2008.5 That volume is projected togrow to 40% in the coming year. What will this mean for those who manage corporate networks?According to the same Gartner analyst, companies that want to keep up with the building demand for video will have to increase their network capacity by a factor ofAccording to Gartner, 100.6 That kind of upgrade represents a huge investment that not every organization is prepared to make in thecompanies that want to current economic environment, no matter how valuablekeep up with the building video is to the business.demand for video will have To understand the network problem, and hence the root of tensions between the three stakeholder groups, it isto increase their network necessary to delve into the detail of how video movescapacity by a factor of 100. across a corporate network. There are a myriad of challenges involved in getting a corporate network ready to handle such a high volume of video data.UnicastingUnlike the public Web, where global contentdistribution networks (CDNs) such as AkamaiNetworks, can do the heavy lifting ofdistributing big video files from intelligentlyand dynamically determined media servers tothe end viewers, a corporate network mustmanage video on its own. Video files tend to Figure 1 - Unicasting of video causes severe network congestion for a location with limited bandwidth.require more bandwidth than any other datamoving around on a network. If many people are watching different video streams simultaneously, this cancause serious traffic congestion on most networks. Most organizations first start streaming video through5 Steinert-Threlkeld, Tom – “Video Will Require 100X Boost to Corporate Nets, Gartner Says” – Securities Technology Monitor, 17November, 20106 ibid Page 3
  • 4. unicast delivery. Unicast is a one-to-one transmission between the client and the server. That means thatfor each end user watching a video stream, the server must originate and deliver a unique stream.As Figure 1 shows, unicasting can wreak havoc on a location with limited bandwidth. In this case, a T1 line isoverwhelmed by 5 requests for a 500 kbps stream. Unicasting is so inefficient that IT managers oftensimply ban unicast video rather than allow this kind of network congestion. However, banning video is nota viable option today, as it antagonizes the other two stakeholder groups. Media professionals, of course,want to be able to stream video. LOB managers also need it. The tension on this point is easy tounderstand. The IT manager is effectively trapped. If he or she bans video, the other two stakeholdergroups will be unhappy. If video is allowed, but disrupts the network, everyone will be displeased,especially the IT manager.IP MulticastingTo solve the unicast problem, many organizations turn to IP multicast, a networking technology thatenables a single video stream to reach all viewers on that network. Figure 2 illustrates how IP multicastwould work in the T1 office scenario depicted in Figure 1. IP multicast, though effective, is entirely relianton hardware upgrades, router configurations, and other network related factors, which makes it difficult and costly to implement. Additionally, in most companies there are frequent changes in network topologies, due to internal reorganizations or mergers and acquisitions, which greatly complicate the maintenance effort needed to sustain IP multicast enablement. As a result, very few companies have succeeded in IP multicast- enabling their entire network, which meansFigure 2 - IP multicasting enables a single stream to reach multiple end users at least some, or even many, employees simply can’t get video.IP multicast, as well as various WAN accelerationtechnologies, is effective at easing the network burden IP multicast, though effective, isof video. However, it only offers a partial resolution tothe tension between the three stakeholder groups. IP entirely reliant on hardwaremulticast implementation is almost always upgrades, router configurations,incomplete. And, even when a network is completelymulticast enabled, certain remote locations will always and other network relatedbe bandwidth constrained and unable to support factors, which makes it difficultmulticasting. In practical terms, it is very rare to find a100% multicast-enabled network. Even if such a and costly to implement.network was fully enabled, it probably wouldn’tremain that way. Page 4
  • 5. Platform IssuesEnterprise video also runs into platform problems in most current corporate deployments. Whileenterprises predominantly use Windows-based PCs, there are enough Apple devices, mobile devices, andLinux boxes to make pervasive enterprise video nearly impossible to deliver. Given the increase of videousage and its growing relevance to corporate life, platform incompatibility is now a serious problem.Each stakeholder group will likely have a different perspective on platform issues. Media professionals tendto be agnostic, wanting universal distribution of media. IT managers face constraints on how manyplatforms and devices they can support, though in reality they often end up supporting all of themunofficially. For example, when the CEO has a problem with an unsupported device and needs help,an ITmanager has to jump in and fix the problem. IT managers face pressure from LOB managers to supportmore recent technologies, especially popular new devices, such as tablets. As a result of these pressures,an enterprise video solution needs to offer cross-platform functionality without adding to overall systemiccomplexity.Multicast Fusion: A New Solution ApproachMulticast fusion is a new approach toenterprise video based on the Adobe®Flash® Media Enterprise Server. It solvesthe cost and complexity challenges ofsupporting both live and on-demandvideo to the enterprise audience. Byintroducing a new form of multicast,which combines a secure peer-assistedmodel of video distribution and IP Figure 3 - Multicast fusion, a combination of IP multicast and peer-assistedmulticast, a video stream can reach content delivery with Flash Player 10.1.virtually everyone on the network usingexisting bandwidth and infrastructure. Multicast fusion finally unlocks the full potential for video within theenterprise by combining IP and peer-assist multicast to deliver enterprise-grade streaming media using themost efficient algorithms in a dynamic self-optimizing topology. It radically reduces the correlationbetween video growth and infrastructure upgrades. As a result, it has the potential to change the terms ofthe discussion between media professionals, LOB managers, and IT managers. Multicast fusion enables corporations to keep up with growing video demand while cutting expenses across several cost centers. Page 5
  • 6. Based on the new edition of Flash® Media Server and the Flash® Player 10.1, multicast fusion enablescorporations to keep up with growing video demand while cutting expenses across several cost centers. ITmanagers will appreciate it for the ability to deliver the greatest level of video service while minimizing theneed for additional media servers, upgrading networking gear, managing networking configuration, addingedge caching devices, eCDNs, and WAN acceleration hardware. And by having less hardware to installthroughout the network, Flash® Media Server promises a shorter deployment cycle than existing videostreaming technologies and lower ongoing IT maintenance and support costs.Multicast fusion is of primary benefit to live videostreaming in the enterprise. However, the technologyalso benefits video on-demand in several ways. Thesame network efficiencies that multicast fusion conferson live video also work for video on-demand. There isalso the added economy and simplicity of having just oneserver handle all live and VOD traffic.Multicast fusion provides a further benefit in thatAdobe® Flash® technology is compatible with alloperating systems, so corporations can now streamvideo to Macs, PCs, and Linux machines with relativeease. It’s compatible across all popular browsers,making the video experience seamless for users ofInternet Explorer®, FireFox®, Chrome®, Safari®, andOpera®. Media producers will no longer have to producevideo in multiple streaming formats when a corporatevideo event is intended for both internal and externalaudiences, which is potentially a huge money and timesaver.The peer-assisted delivery capability in multicast fusion Figure 4 - Cloud/On-Premise video streaming optionsalso enables some new architectures. As shown in Figure with multicast fusion4, a Flash® Media Server can be hosted in the cloud.However, it can stream video through the firewall, where the stream can then be shared through the peer-assisted mode of delivery. This is a potential driver of cost savings, as it reduces the investment in videoinfrastructure inside the firewall.Peer-assisted delivery of video with Flash® Media Server is quite different from conventional peer-to-peercommunication on the public Internet. Like IP multicasting on Flash® Media Server, which providesmultiple layers of security and a protected stream, peer-assisted content delivery in multicast fusion issecure and well governed. Flash® Media Server acts as a “rendezvous” server and controls who can talk towhom so that there is no haphazard, random peer-to-peer traffic that might shut down the network. It isall very carefully controlled and network traffic can be even be encrypted with a 128-bit cipher. Then, theclient is required to know the name of the stream and have the Peer ID of the publisher before it will playthe stream. The Peer ID is a 256-bit value unique to the publisher. The publisher must accept a peer request Page 6
  • 7. before a connection can be made. The whole system can be mapped to LDAP for compliance with accesscontrols. These measures mitigate the risk of poorly controlled peering, which could affect networkperformance.Satisfying the Stakeholder Groups with Multicast FusionWhile there are no magic bullets in corporate IT, multicastfusion does offer an approach to enterprise video that willmitigate many of the factors that create tension amongst While there are no magicthe stakeholder groups. Media professionals will like the bullets in corporate IT,flexibility of the Flash Platform for enterprise video. Flashis cross-platform, enabling the audience to experience the multicast fusion does offervideo on a variety of devices, browsers, and operating an approach to enterprisesystems. Flash is also the dominant mode of video on thepublic Web, so producers can create a single stream that video that will mitigatewill serve all viewers. (In many corporate video scenarios many of the factors thattoday, the producers must stream a Flash version forpublic consumption and an alternative format for internal create tension amongstaudiences. This adds overhead, complexity and error the stakeholder groups.risk.) LOB managers should appreciate multicast fusion,as it makes video available without requiring the kind of ITinvestment needed for alternative streaming formats.IT managers should appreciate that multicast fusion makes the most efficient possible use of the networkfor streaming video. With its blending of IP multicast and well-governed, peer-assist media delivery,multicast fusion can deliver video to virtually everyone on the network without requiring infrastructureupgrades. As video demand grows, the correlation between video consumption and infrastructureexpansion is far less onerous than it can be with traditional approaches to video. The IT manager can domore with less, which is always an appealing proposition for this stakeholder group. With multicast fusion,video does not have to be the factor that drives network upgrades in the enterprise.The Business ROI for Multicast FusionEstimating return on investment (ROI) for enterprise technologies is always tricky, given the subjectivenature of each deployment scenario. However, it is possible to approach an ROI thought process formulticast fusion on the levels of both hard dollar financial figures and intangible business value. Thefollowing table summarizes some key ROI factors for multicast fusion. In a simple sense, the cost of a 100Xnetwork capacity upgrade should exceed the investment in a multicast fusion solution by orders ofmagnitude. For that reason, the ROI is implicit and extremely clear. However, every company’s process forupgrading its infrastructure is going to be different, so it is necessary to show that multicast fusion confersadditional financial benefits, such as reduced support costs for video events, and intangible values such asincluding remote locations in all video communications. Page 7
  • 8. Financial ROI Intangible Business Value  Financial impact of deferring, reducing or  Video growth with low business impact. avoiding a large scale (up to 100X) network upgrade to keep pace with video  HR/Training/Collaboration/Communication growth. benefits of pervasive video distribution.  Reduce support costs due to  Inclusion of remote offices in corporate- improvements in platform compatibility wide video experience. and a single public/private streaming format.  Simplified production management for enterprise video, driven by single streaming format.ConclusionEstablishing technology strategy in the corporation is almost always driven by human, not technical,factors. This is particularly true for enterprise video, where the stakes are high and the potential fordisagreement spans multiple stakeholder groups. As media professionals, LOB managers, and IT managerscome together to find consensus on video and find a mutually satisfactory way forward, multicast fusionoffers a number of promising options. By enabling growth in video consumption without the level ofcorrelated expense and investment typically required for video, multicast fusion makes possible a path toconsensus amongst the stakeholder groups. With multicast fusion, it is possible to satisfy the business andtechnological needs of each group. Page 8
  • 9. Additional Resources  Flash® Media Server Security Video: http://tv.adobe.com/watch/max-2010-develop/secure-enterprise-video- streaming-with-flash-media-server-and-p2p  Flash® Media Server Security Papers: http://www.adobe.com/devnet/flashmediaserver/security.html  Flash® Media Server Hardening Guide: http://www.adobe.com/devnet/flashmediaserver/articles/hardening_guide.html Page 9
  • 10. About the Author s Gr eg Pulier a founder and president of MediaPlatform and has spent the last ten years developing rich media webcasting software products. He has previously worked at the Harvard Robotics Laboratory, the NYU Robotics Laboratory, and as CTO of Radiant Enterprises. Mr. Pulier has experience managing software teams and developing new technologies in the streaming media industry leveraging his knowledge of neuroscience and brain processing. Greg holds a B.S. in Physics from Harvard University. K evin T owes is the Senior Product Manager at Adobe Systems Incorporated, responsible for Flash Media Server. Prior to Adobe, Mr. Towes spent 13 years working as a prime consultant enabling customers with Flash-based communication, collaboration, social media and video streaming solutions using Flash Media Server. His FMS Live Video work with Canadian Broadcasting Corporation (CBC) led to an Emmy nomination in 2004. About MediaPlatfor m® MediaPlatform, Inc. delivers best-in-class webcasting and media management technology to global enterprises and digital media producers. MediaPlatform’s webcasting software enables high-impact presentations for lead generation, corporate communications and training. The company offers organizations the ability to take advantage of scalable cloud-based computing, as well as on-premises deployment, to present and manage rich media. With media management tools built on its platform, the company helps clients derive long term archive value from their investment in media content. www.mediaplatform.com www.twitter.com/webcaster info@mediaplatform.com Page 10Adobe®, Flash®, and the Flash® logo are either registered trademarks or trademarks of Adobe® Systems Incorporated in the United States and/or other countries. MediaPlatform® is a registered trademark of MediaPlatform