Video in the enterprise: dealing with the data deluge

As enterprises continue their digital transformation, the use of live and on-demand video continues to grow. Driven by a growing virtual and mobile workforce, the need to control business travel costs and the availability of more cost-effective solutions, enterprises are using video to reach wider audiences across multiple departments. How can a Software-Defined Enterprise Content Delivery Network (SD-ECDN) help you cope with the data loads this puts on your IT systems?

With millennials hooked on YouTube and Netflix, it’s little surprise that enterprises are increasingly turning to the medium of video to communicate. Video is a proven way of improving collaboration between internal and external stakeholders and geographically dispersed offices, enabling real-time, knowledge and best-practice sharing. But distributing video over enterprise networks can be a daunting task. File sizes are huge, sufficient bandwidth is essential and users expect to enjoy the same high quality video experiences at work that they’re accustomed to at home.

Video solutions market

Content delivery networks

This is where Enterprise Content Delivery Networks (ECDNs) come in. Without an ECDN, each user ends up streaming the same video from a server, putting the entire corporate network under huge stress. In contrast, an ECDN uses virtual appliances – installed on-premise – to cache the video content and deliver it to large, local audiences. Each instance of the video content only has to be downloaded once, which dramatically reduces the bandwidth required and stops the buffering and delays for the end user.

A Software-Defined ECDN takes this a step further by using a peer-assisted delivery model that enables every end-user device to act as a server. If an employee wants to view a video, he can receive the data from a closer computer rather than directly from the server. This means you can expand network capacity, without adding hardware, and control bandwidth costs.

At the time of first request, a new video is only available on the origin servers of the SD-ECDN. They “seed” the peer-assisted network that is created using agents on your employees’ desktops. A cloud controller serves as the brains of the system, managing how content is stored, secured and shared on this “mesh delivery grid” of end-user devices. It dynamically determines the network layout by monitoring the available bandwidth and response times of each peer to provide the best throughput.

An SD-ECDN is like ball bearings for a corporate network: without edge caches to speed up the load times of content, the gears of the WAN would grind to a halt, while the peer-assisted network acts as a “shock absorber” during sudden spikes in demand.

Addressing security concerns

With increased use of video in the enterprise, security has become a key issue. According to Steve Vonder Haar, Senior Analyst at Wainhouse Research, "As managers and executives begin discussing more sensitive topics and sharing more proprietary information, it becomes increasingly important for organizations to make sure they can keep that video content under lock and key."

Content can be protected on a per-item basis with user authentication via username/password and access control by user or groups to make sure that only authorized users are able to play or view the content.

In addition, every piece of content is automatically scanned for viruses when published and every day thereafter. A file can’t be corrupted or substituted during transmission because every file has a digital signature that is checked to verify successful download. As a result, hostile attackers can’t send a malware-infected file, substitute some other piece of content for the one that was requested, or alter the content in any way.

Video content syndication

APIs enable the flexible integration of rich content into portals and management systems. Videos can be automatically syndicated to existing intranet sites featuring content channels for different groups of employees. For example, you can livestream all-hands meetings featuring your CEO and senior executives and create on-boarding video play-lists for new recruits and training modules for employees in different job roles.

At the same time, over-the-top (OTT) video services – like Skype and WhatsApp – are growing in importance. ABI Research forecasts the enterprise video solutions market will surpass $49 billion by 2023, driven further by OTT usage. OTT services enable people to use their device of choice to access the content, be that a PC, tablet or mobile. Integrated chat enables participants to answer employees' questions and gain valuable feedback.

Cloud or hosted enterprise video, provided as an SaaS by service providers, is increasingly appealing to enterprises as they only pay for what they use. This provides flexibility and scalability, making video a cost-effective proposition.

Future enterprise video

Enterprises today can’t afford to ignore video as a medium of communication. Initially, videoconferencing was widely seen as the number one way to cut travel expenses. However, the need for video communication has only increased. In fact, worldwide spending for unified communications is on track to grow about 17 percent a year through 2024, topping out at nearly $143.5 billion, according to the business analysis firm Research and Markets.

Moreover, video is forecast to account for 82 percent of global Internet traffic by 2021, according to Cisco. Deploying video in the enterprise provides a platform for better engaging employees and stakeholders, while improving collaboration. All of which inevitably increases productivity and the bottom line.

For more information about using video for communications and collaboration, read about our workspace solutions.