Looking for ways to build collaboration and engagement among your employees? Live streaming company events like all-hands meetings can be a great tool to bring your team together. But internal streams are only effective if employees can actually watch the video. Too often, a network bottlenecks occur when employees use the same ISP to view a live stream. Because video is bandwidth-intensive and puts a strain on your internal network, streaming video can cause the Internet to crash, slow other applications running on-site — or both.
This article discuses strategies to avoid delivery issues to large, locally confined audiences. It approaches this from the need to keep content secure, for internal audiences only, but to successfully deliver that content as well, sometimes across a variety of different viewing devices. For those looking for a use case example of scaling internal video delivery, check out this How to Scale Your Corporate Video Communications webinar that details how IBM’s CIO office manages their own internal video needs.
Potential delivery methods
Those looking for a solution to local congestion issues have three delivery methods to choose from that can eliminate network bottlenecks caused by video streaming. These include:
- Local unicast server: A virtual server or machine on a physical host at each site on the network receives a single stream from the source and then distributes it to viewers, minimizing network impact. (Learn more about how this works.)
- Multicast: In a fully multicast-enabled network, a multicast server (usually located at the data center) receives a single video stream and then uses routers to distribute it to all network segments.
- Peer-to-Peer: A viewer serves as super node, or “leader,” and shares fragments of a single video stream with other viewers, who then share fragments with each other. This reduces the data load on the network.
Not only can these solutions minimize bandwidth consumption at the internet connection, they can also allow employees to interact during live presentations and enable employees working remotely to access the video as well.
Matching your streaming needs with the right delivery method
For enterprise leaders wondering which delivery method is right for them, the answer is that there is no right answer. But there is an optimal solution for each specific network setup. To ensure consistently streaming high-quality video, you should use a vendor that offers all three delivery methods so you can mix and match them or craft your own hybrid approach.
Chris Zaloumis, senior offering manager at IBM Watson Media, also offers these tips to help prevent your internal streaming from being throttled by bottlenecks:
- Involve your IT team in deploying webcast systems or hosting an event.
When you involve the IT department in the process from the beginning, your event is likely to be a lot more successful from a connectivity perspective. Each role brings a different perspective to the event. The network team knows where network bottlenecks are likely to occur, the desktop team knows the type of browsers employees will use, the security team can provide insight on the best method to secure the content, and the virtualization team can assist in deploying a virtual machine to receive the video in your server infrastructure.
- Ensure IT understands that streaming programs are mission critical.
If your IT department doesn’t know about an upcoming webcast, it may schedule maintenance during the event and take the system offline. As a result, your live streaming event will become unavailable, causing frustration and a missed opportunity.
- Create a backup plan. Internet connections go down.
Nodes go offline. The power goes out. If you prepare for unexpected problems by creating a capability to failover to a backup solution in case any of your first-line distribution components fail,, the webcast can continue and your team can view the stream.
- Use a low encoding and bit rate.
When users stream from a remote location, they often rely on wireless connectivity, which is not recommended because of potential connectivity disruptions like jitter and packet-loss issues. Instead, make sure that the encoding is not set too high from the point of origination and start with a low bit rate on the delivery site. While ideally you want the highest resolution possible, it’s more important that everyone be able to see the stream, even if it’s in a lower resolution.
To learn more about how delivery options can decrease bottlenecks during video streaming events, check out the IBM ebook, Internal Video Without Bottlenecks: Comparing Unicast, Multicast and P2P Delivery.