Distributing videos in the Cloud: what are the business advantages?
Nowadays, businesses want to publish video content for the consumption of the general public as well as private audiences (such as employees and partners). Video demands a variety of technical resources for hosting, encryption and streaming. It also eats up a lot of bandwidth. Video distribution must therefore meet complex professional requirements that operational teams will have to spend time mastering.
before you begin
before choosing a solution, businesses should ask the following questions:
- what service or technical resource should be used to distribute the videos?
- how will the videos be hosted and encrypted?
- how will the business’s IT environment limit the ability to stream videos?
- how will security and content privacy be protected?
- which teams will use the service? what are their needs?
These questions should be asked directly by IT and operational teams. To minimize costs, IT divisions typically look for off-the-shelf solutions from external providers, so they can avoid long and costly architecture projects.
At the same time, communications teams prefer simple and user-friendly tools that are ready to use, so that they can easily distribute videos on all of the company’s internal and external channels. They want an ease of use comparable to YouTube or Dailymotion.
So why don’t they just use these services? Because some business content may be intended only for an internal audience or a small group of partners. Large video servers open to the general public are great for reaching a massive audience of consumers. However, some content is not meant to leave the privacy of the company, such as:
- speeches by the Chairman and CEO or top management
- training content
- internal communications videos
- competitor and internal analysis, etc
An appliance manufacturer communicating its products’ advantages to distributors will not want this content broadcast on the web, since that may put it at risk of being sued by competitors. For this reason, communications teams want to use video services that combine the simplicity of web tools aimed at the general public with the security and privacy necessary for business content.
how can cloud video services meet the needs of IT experts and communications teams?
Cloud solutions are available for hosting, encrypting and streaming video from external, technical and functional environments. Depending on the supplier, these environments are accessible on the web or through a company’s private network. Adopting a cloud solution for video streaming can provide the following benefits:
- video hosting, encrypting and streaming is handled outside the company’s infrastructure, which requires few or no internal resources
- online content administration using plug-and-play interfaces that typically do not require any advanced technical skills from users
- variable service costs based on data storage, number of users and views, etc
what key factors determine the success of a cloud video service?
To meet the needs of both IT experts and operational teams, a cloud video solution must offer the following advantages:
1. for IT teams: flexibility and security
- access to the service must be provided transparently, without compromising the company’s security policy or application policy.
A video feed that interferes with a business’s critical applications is not acceptable
- video streaming must adapt to the bandwidth capacities of various sites, as well as the company’s data and internet access. Streaming quality must be based on the bandwidth of the streaming site.
There’s no point in streaming a video in HD over 1.5 Mbps to a boutique that only has a 512 Kbps ADSL connection
- media protocols must be updated transparently and anticipated so clients can schedule updates on user workstations. IT teams will appreciate having an advance look at updates for the cloud application’s video protocols
- infrastructure that hosts video content must guarantee the security of this content, such as protection against attacks, encrypting streams, isolation, etc. Any security department will raise the question of protecting content from attacks originating from outside the company. This is a crucial issue for sectors such as banking, public services and “sensitive” industries (defense, aeronautics, pharmaceuticals, etc)
2. for operational teams: plug & play and simplicity
- they need to be able to publish video on the internet or intranet with easy-to-use features that do not require a Ph.D in computer science. The tool should limit complex and time-consuming manual operations, instead offering automated operations for things like video encryption. Each time a video is published, encryption in multiple formats should happen automatically or following a simple selection made by the user
- content must be easy to integrate into the company’s collaborative tools, using easy-to-install APIs to edit video automatically in corporate social networks, wiki pages, sharepoint, etc
- content must be readable on all devices used by employees, including PCs, smartphones, tablets
- content will be showcased better internally when paired with interactive tools such as comments, like buttons, ratings, surveys, etc
Whether it’s a cloud or internal service, any video solution will need to be defined by the IT department and embraced by the operational teams that use it. If communications employees feel that the service is too complex or they’re wasting too much time, sooner or later they’ll choose another solution. Compared with an internal solution built around computers, applications and custom developments, a cloud solution will win out if it offers a simplified, flexible and secure path open to as many use cases as possible.
photo: © madgooch - Fotolia.com
April 28, 2014Thierry GrenotFrançois, thanks for this very clear positioning of cloud-based video on-demand services. From the network point of view, hybrid approaches combining MPLS networks with local Internet breakout (like in Orange Network Boost) is bringing innovative options to get the necessary bandwidth without impacting budget and guarantying business apps performance.
Regards - Thierry