When employees tune into a company-wide announcement or town hall, the first thing on their minds isn’t usually what processes made the connection work. Instead, we take for granted the picture we see, the voice we hear, and focus our energy on the message we’re receiving. This is the natural reaction to a company live stream.
Where things get tricky is if and when the stream is interrupted. A cut in audio here or a skip in the video there is enough to frustrate most employees keeping up remotely. Considering the streaming quality they’re used to with services such as Netflix and HBO, it’s hardly surprising that the reaction is something between impatience and irritation. Worse yet, continued imperfection can cause a lack of interest and attention from employees, limiting the effectiveness of internal video communications. Unfortunately, such disturbances are not uncommon, and many businesses often run into this issue. So the next step is to ask what’s happening behind the scenes: How is video delivered and what causes it to falter?
The challenge of video unified communications
When attempting large-scale live streaming, a company is making massive demands on its network’s capacity. The reason we get slowdowns and trips in service is due to this vastly increased volume of external calls to the internet. This can cause plenty of problems, not the least of which is the impact on the operation of other company resources (think email and instant messaging). In the worst-case scenario, we could even see a crash where content delivery is suspended entirely. Consider how your internet slows down when you have too many videos, webpages or applications open; a corporate live stream represents the same phenomenon multiplied many times over. In short, live video delivery thoroughly overwhelms the company’s network.
Who takes care of managing the company’s network?
So, on whose shoulders does it fall to manage the traffic and ensuing demand on your servers? Our IT departments are generally the ones who have to handle such errors, and consequently those who are blamed if everything isn’t back up and running smoothly within seconds. As such, any request for a corporate live stream is going to mean weeks of preparation and stress for these IT teams who have to keep the machine well-oiled and running for the duration of the presentation.
IT preparation starts on the physical side: Cameras and sound systems have to be checked, set up, and checked again. With all of the devices ready to go, these teams then have to make sure the recorded material is translated correctly into the proper digital format. At every moment in the process, there’s the potential for something to go wrong. Equipment can fail or a misconfiguration can block the video file from being streamed seamlessly, for example. Assuming these steps run without error, IT then needs to make sure that the stream is delivered. For smoother delivery, they need to find an external network provider, or otherwise spend thousands of dollars on private servers that they would then need to configure to interact correctly with the network, firewalls, and other infrastructure. Whatever server the company decides to implement, IT teams spend days if not weeks configuring and testing, calculating the load it can handle, making an intensive and time-consuming project out of what we on the receiving end take for granted. These procedures also aren’t limited to one site, but have to be repeated across every global office to ensure proper integration.
There are a few long-term solutions that can help assuage the heavy load our IT teams undertake. As mentioned, companies could simply purchase more servers, giving IT some breathing room to operate demand-heavy live streaming smoothly. But the time and expenditure involved in this solution increases proportionally to the number of sites and servers added. They could also invest in an external Cloud server provider, but this does not overcome the fact that external links to the internet are limited in capacity. So are corporate live streams doomed to costly and lengthy IT preparation? Not necessarily.
Making Things Easier: a peer-to-peer eCDN solution
The most cost-efficient and effective way to avoid overloading our internal business network is with a peer-to-peer delivery solution. In essence, peer-to-peer enterprise video delivery turns individual employees’ devices into surrogate network projectors. Rather than having every device pull from the same source, in other words, peer-to-peer takes the pressure off of the company server by rerouting the material between local workstations. Subsequently, the pressure is also off IT teams to constantly monitor server capacity to prevent untimely lags and crashes. The result is the smooth operation we hope for, where important corporate live streams do not interfere with other critical business functions. Our other corporate functions remain untouched as the video traffic stays within the local company network.
So, next time you need to do a live event, give your IT teams a solution rather than a problem with a peer-to-peer alternative. Streamroot eCDN (formerly known as Streamroot DNA Enterprise), already employed by Fortune 500 companies, saves time and energy by eliminating much of the effort on the delivery side. With our eCDN, you can save your IT teams days or even weeks of their lives while providing a more reliable and seamless high-quality stream. By harnessing these local peer-to-peer connections, Streamroot eCDN optimizes delivery to ensure the best quality to each end user. That way, you can concentrate on what really matters during a live stream: the message you’re trying to convey to your employees.