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Six types of video distribution technology and why you need most of them

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Six types of video distribution technology and why you need most of them

By Paul Herdman, Vice President, Qumu

It’s no secret that within the enterprise, video files are large and bandwidth-intensive. With this in mind, the growing need to stream both live and on demand video over corporate networks can – and often does – have a negative impact on network performance and user experience. Flawless delivery of video across the enterprise requires a sophisticated combination of behind-the-scenes technologies.

Here is an overview of these technologies, as well as the strengths and weaknesses of each.

But first . . . Why is video distribution important?

Although the vast majority of end users will never know whether their video is being delivered via Unicast, Caching, Multicast or some other method, the video distribution technology being used has a significant impact on overall user experience and engagement. In fact, studies have shown that viewers will abandon a video if their content doesn’t stream within 2 seconds and after only a few seconds, you can lose a quarter of your audience.

What are the most common video distribution technologies?

There are six primary video distribution technologies in use within the enterprise today—and each plays an important role within its specific use case and network environment. Additionally, because large companies typically support multiple use cases across the enterprise, most will require a combination of two or more distribution technologies.

Technology #1: Unicast

Unicast distribution is the simplest form of streaming video within an enterprise, i.e. sending video from a single media server directly to a single recipient.

Unicast Pros and Cons – Unicast is a simple, mature and reliable technology requiring minimal configuration and is also supported natively by most network devices. However, establishing a single and dedicated stream for each user causes significant network load when viewing volume is high. To use Unicast successfully in high-volume environments, most companies will be required to deploy Edge Servers at key sites to ensure video is served as locally as possible.

Technology #2: Caching

Caching is a technique that involves storing on demand video content on multiple servers (called Media or Edge Servers) across the network – meaning Caching only applies to on demand video and not live video. When a video is requested by a user, it is automatically stored locally on an Edge Server so that other users in that region or network area may access it.

Caching Pros and Cons – Caching video content on Edge Servers greatly reduces the number of times a single video asset is pulled across a WAN, which both accelerates video delivery and reduces bandwidth usage. But on the flip side, Caching requires the added expense of additional infrastructure.

Technology #3: Multicast

Multicast involves streaming live video from a Source Media Server to a group of secondary hosts or recipients on a network. A good analogy would be a radio broadcast – the server simply “broadcasts” a video signal and whoever wants to tune in may do so.

Multicast Pros and Cons – The biggest advantage of multicast is that it minimises WAN traffic because requests for video assets are not being sent across the network. While this is a key advantage, Multicast is only applicable to live video and requires significant additional management resources. Multicast also requires Multicast-enabled network equipment, browser plugins in most cases and is often not supported by Wi-Fi networks or mobile devices.

Technology #4: Peer-to-Peer (P2P)

Peer-to-peer distribution allows devices on the network, like two employee laptops for example, to connect and share video directly from one to the other. P2P is gaining momentum in the enterprise as of late with the emergence of WebRTC, which allows video to be shared directly between browsers without apps or plugins.

Peer-to-Peer Pros and Cons – Peer-to-Peer can significantly minimise WAN traffic, because the video asset is being streamed from a peer instead of a Source Video Server. P2P is also especially useful in companies with many branch offices, where it is impractical to deploy Edge Servers at each location. However, Peer-to-Peer configurations may still require software and storage on each peer device, and may not include native support for mobile viewing.

Technology #5: External CDN

External Content Delivery Networks (CDNs) such as Akamai, Amazon CloudFront, Level 3, and Cloudflare are paid services that utilise the internet to deliver video. While not a distribution technology in and of itself, an external CDN can be beneficial as part of the distribution mix in certain use cases.

External CDN Pros and Cons – External CDNs allow organisations to offload video traffic from an internal network and can be a great way to deliver video to remote users on VPN connections or in branch offices with local internet connections. But as with any external connection, companies must ensure that security requirements are met and deal with internet gateway infrastructure and configuration requirements for branch offices and VPN access.

Technology #6: Virtual Desktop Infrastructure (VDI)

VDI is a technology used by many large enterprises to give mobile and thin client devices a centrally controlled set of applications and data – such as a Citrix solution – and therefore a standardised end-user experience. VDI environments are notoriously challenging to provide acceptable video to users at scale, due to the inherent performance limitations in virtualised computing.

VDI Pros and Cons – VDI optimisation allows companies to offload video traffic from the Citrix server to an Edge Server, which not only dramatically minimises WAN traffic but also makes “desktop equivalent video” possible for thin client and mobile devices. However, there is one significant caveat: VDI environments are complex and the solution provider must be experienced in delivering VDI video solutions at scale.

Conclusion

There are multiple types of video distribution technologies and, while it might seem overwhelming to choose one or more of them for your environment, you can simplify the process by checking out some real-world examples and case studies and also by getting help designing your video network.

A well-designed network – one that saves costs and delivers a great user experience – begins with everyone on the team understanding the technical challenges and strategic objectives of the organisation.

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Holding Cloud To Account, How Cloud Adds Up In Financial Services

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Trends influencing the 2020 data storage landscape includeAI, mass adoption of hybrid cloud, object storage at the edge, and cybersecurity

By Dom Poloniecki, General Manager, Western Europe and Sub-Saharan Africa at Nutanix

Cloud computing and the deployment of increasingly cloud-native technologies is happening across every industry vertical. Even in industries where a degree of previous inertia existed such as legal and finance, the drive to cloud flexibility and scalability has become a primary driver for the technology fabric that firms in these markets run on.

As traditionalist operations in the legal trade start to undergo increasing levels of digital transformation, the weighty behemoth systems running financial institutions are also now being carefully and strategically replaced by more efficient, more flexible and more cost effective cloud installations. Now a proud owner of its sub-sector label and hashtag, FinTech is the new financial IT… and FinTech was born on the cloud.

As part of the Third Annual Enterprise Cloud Index report by Nutanix, a specific analysis of the 3,400 IT decision-makers questioned is now dedicated to examining how financial services organisations are using cloud technologies. Looking at the key data points related to Financial Services, we can start to understand the implementation, workload separation and (in most cases still, as of 2020) the migration issues that these firms are experiencing.

In the world of Financial Services cloud computing, the importance of an integrated and intelligently managed hybrid framework can not be overstated. Financial operations can of course draw upon the resource backbone of public cloud for their foundational operational technology requirements. However, they often still need to run a carefully deployed private cloud footprint commensurate with the privacy and security needs of any organisation operating in the financial sector.

The central importance of hybrid

Hybrid cloud and the use of Hyperconverged Infrastructure (HCI) is therefore a key cornerstone for Financial Services hybrid cloud development. This is the route to a cohesively managed hybrid cloud environment, where workloads are optimised according to the security, performance and compliance needs arising from the use case of the data and applications at hand.

The Nutanix Enterprise Cloud Index findings back this reality up and show that the majority (86%) of financial services respondents identify hybrid private/public cloud as the ideal IT operating model for their organisation. So much momentum is there now in this space that financial services companies are running more applications in private clouds than most other industries polled. Their reported usage of private cloud (39%) outpaces all other industries except for IT, tech and telecoms (40%).

As a further validating and driving factor here, HCI is the lower substrate technology behind the big public cloud offerings from Amazon, Google and Microsoft. So HCI and the wider hybrid approach is no longer perceived as ‘just’ a route to cost savings, which perhaps it was as recently as half a decade ago; it now represents an important enabling and facilitating technology to reduce complexity and increase scalability. In the hybrid cloud world where cost is no longer the main driver for cloud implementation, we can say that we have moved on to a point where we identify the ability to ‘achieve business outcomes’ as the primary driver.

HCI for modernised financial challengers

Given the growth of so-called ‘challenger banks’ shaking up financial services with new online services, extended customer loyalty offers driven through dedicated mobile banking applications and other fast-moving business models, traditional financial institutions have realised that they need to become altogether more agile.

Adopting hybrid cloud in Financial Services allows even older and more established firms to build scalable and easily managed private clouds as part of a hybrid cloud model. This scalability can be engineered for rapid growth when and where it happens, but it is also scalability that enables financial organisations to rein in compute resources serving banking products that have proved to be end-of-life and ultimately laid dormant or retired.

It’s important to remember that, as powerful as it is, cloud can still be a complex consideration, especially when aggressively deployed in an essentially hybrid mix of public and private cloud instances. The Enterprise Cloud Index found that for every aggressive hybrid design being deployed, there is an equally aggressive drive to deploy Hyperconverged Infrastructure (HCI).

This is because HCI helps accelerate cloud adoption by sharply reducing the time it takes to build the software-defined infrastructure necessary to support private cloud. It also supports the rapid capacity expansion that enables the scalability benefits of cloud technology. Nearly 50% of the financial sector respondents said they’ve either fully deployed HCI or are in the process of doing so. Another 38% said they will be deploying HCI within the next 12 to 24 months.

It is difficult not to mention the impact and legacy of 2020 and the global pandemic on the financial services technology market space. More than three quarters (78%) of financial services respondents said Covid-19 has caused IT to be viewed more strategically in their organisations. In addition, 50% of financial services respondents said they increased their investment in hybrid cloud as a direct result of the pandemic.

Choice: from the bank teller to the backbone

The key point we keep coming back to here is choice. As financial institutions will be working to offer corporate and individual customers the widest choice of products and services, so too will they need to gain choice of operational compute fabric in the shape of the cloud deployments that they do actually make. More specifically, it’s about these Financial Services businesses having the flexibility to concentrate on the delivery of strategic business outcomes quickly, easily and – crucially – without the need to keep within the limitations of a particular supporting IT model.

As previous Nutanix surveys have shown, companies consistently express a desire for the ability to run workloads in the infrastructure best suited to them, based on a variety of criteria. Be that wanting to enhance security; rapidly on-board new apps during takeovers and acquisitions; reach new markets with different compliance needs and so on.

Over the next five years, financial services organisations expect a significant drop of 13 percentage points in their use of non-cloud-enabled datacentre technology, taking them down to less than 1% penetration. As in almost all aspects of life, some products, tools and processes that we took as standard parts of the way the world works are eventually superseded.

Nobody uses a ‘flatbed slider’ paper-slip credit card reader anymore to take a payment – and nobody will use non-cloud financial services IT functions in the very near future. There may be a few archaic legacy hangers-on, but they’ll be nothing more than the exception that proves the rule. Hybrid cloud for our Financial Services’ future? That’ll do nicely.

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First of a kind Virtual Coffee Machine app with social meeting moments to support workforce wellbeing in a remote workplace

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First of a kind Virtual Coffee Machine app with social meeting moments to support workforce wellbeing in a remote workplace 1

Powell Software’s first in a series of wellbeing technology innovations help remote employees socially connect with colleagues and keep the workplace culture alive

As the third UK lockdown continues and many countries worldwide face severe restrictions, Powell Software, a global organisation creating digital solutions and tools for the digital workplace, has launched the first of its kind Virtual Coffee Machine, an application within Microsoft Teams to ensure employees stay better connected, positively engaged and take regular breaks while working from home.

With employee wellbeing at the top of the global workforce agenda for 2021, Powell’s Virtual Coffee Machine app positively connects employees through virtual chats to maintain a culture of togetherness, even when apart.

Replacing the absence of the in-person coffee catch up, HR can swiftly set up a Virtual Coffee Machine break within any Teams channel, encouraging employees to take regular short breaks while inspiring networking and socialising between colleagues.

Matthieu Silbermann, Chief Product Officer at Powell Software said: “The effects of the Pandemic have reshaped the Digital Workplace and research has found that three quarters of employers intend to shift some employees to remote work permanently. However, with one in five remote employees naming loneliness as their top complaint regarding work from home, reinforcing togetherness needs to be a top priority.”

Take a virtual coffee

HR can set up a Virtual Coffee Machine meeting within any Teams channel defining time, frequency and date, and number of people. The app then uses an algorithm that collects data from employees registered in Powell Teams, automatically comparing outlook calendars and generating meeting invites based on the criteria of the meeting. For example, if the Virtual Coffee Machine meeting criteria was set at a maximum of five people and ten people are available to join then two meeting invitations would be sent.

Virtual Coffee Machine consciously avoids one to one or full team meetings, focusing on creating intimate, short social breaks where employees can take time out to engage with colleagues in a positive digital space.  Colleagues can also ‘travel’ to differently located virtual offices across their organisation to meet colleagues for a coffee break in different virtual buildings.

Employees are unaware of who else will join the group until the event, to encourage different team members to meet, chat and get to know each other. The app automatically books an agenda and also suggests ice breakers like ‘what was the last film you saw or book’?

If a team member does not want to or cannot join a Virtual Coffee Meeting, they simply decline the meeting invitation.

Silbermann continues: “Powell Software is passionate about connecting employees to their organisation and to each other, ensuring that they have a positive and stimulating experience at work, every day. Remote workers need to be connected, they need to feel part of the company, the culture and feel able to socialise in the hybrid or remote workplace.

“Powell’s new Virtual Coffee Machine app is all about the employee. We all miss the little social moments at the office, whether they be at the coffee machine or the cold water fountain. Coffee Machine allows us to progressively see our workplaces positively come to life again in a virtual way, promoting connectivity, collaboration and employee wellbeing. It’s part of a bigger goal and series of initiatives to bring the virtual building to life.”

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Top 5 Ways To Lose Your Video Files

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Most Video Content Created in the Summer Months, Finds Veritas Research

There are lots of reasons why you can lose video files in your system or device. While some of these problems are avoidable, others are inevitable. Simply put, it is only a matter of time before the latter problems will be experienced. The major challenge is that most people don’t understand why their video files are either missing, damaged or deleted.

Are you amongst those mentioned above? Do you always ask why a video file can get lost, deleted or damaged? Don’t waste time to rack your brain on a such topic/matter. This is because you have come to the right place. This well-researched blog will provide you all the top reasons why you are losing your video files. Before thinking about which video recovery software to start using, it is recommended you know why files are getting lost in your system.

Power outage

This is a common problem that is responsible for loss of data. However, most people are yet to discover it. Have you ever noticed any situation whereby there is sudden power outage in your system? Simply put, your system suddenly shuts down. In such case, applications and other files (photos, videos, audios and doc) will be closed without any prior warning. The implication of this is that your video files are likely to get damaged.

Top 5 Ways To Lose Your Video Files 2

You may want to argue that systems come with batteries. Therefore, there will not be a problem of power shut down. This is not true in any way as power shut down can happen due to some reasons. It could even be that your system is malfunctioning. Even when your video files are not damaged through such incident, there is every chance that your hard drive will be adversely affected.

Faulty hard drive

If your hard drive is damaged due to one reason or another, there is every chance that your video files will be lost, damaged or deleted. Most of the cases related to data losses can be traced to malfunctioning hard drive. In case you don’t know, hard drives are very fragile. They can easily become faulty because of poor handling. If your hard drive crashes, it is recommended you find out what must have led to such problem. Trying to use a data recovery tool without knowing the root cause of the problem won’t do any good.

There are numerous factors responsible for a faulty hard drive. These could be hot system, frequent crashing, constant freezing, slow processing speed, booting up issues. The longer you ignore these problems; that is how your hard drive will be further damaged. This will in turn lead to loss of video files.

Human error

The truth is that as humans, we are always bound to make mistakes. These could sometimes prove very costly since they can bring about loss of video files. There are cases when important business files have been deleted mistakenly in the past. Human errors are very common. They can bring about formatting of hard drive, data loss and repair of system.

The only way to avoid this problem is to ensure you understand files to be deleted or retained. Most people don’t read messages displayed in dialogue boxes before clicking on “Delete” buttons. This is an easy way to delete important video files without knowing.

Computer viruses

Computer virus is one of the major reasons why people lose video files. Just as the digital world is becoming increasingly popular, viruses and malware are also waxing stronger. One of the most notable causes is when you begin to explore unsecured websites. It can also happen when corrupt files are downloaded and installed in your system.

When your system has been compromised by viruses and malware, there is a very high chance of losing vital files like doc, videos, audios and photos. You will try to open these files but they won’t respond. The best way to overcome this problem is using anti-virus software. This will help to monitor your browsing habit online.

Hard drive formatting

This happens to be another major cause of data loss. Most people format their hard drive without backing up vital files. In the end, these files are lost. Without the help of a paid or free recovery software, you may struggle to get back such data.

It is recommended that you backup important video files before initiating such a process. There are lots of ways to do this. For instance, you can use an external hard drive or even store such files online. This will save you the stress of spending unnecessarily on a data recovery software.

Final words

When it comes to losing your video files, there are lots of reasons which could be responsible for such problem. The tips shared above can help you to a great extent. All you have to do is ensure they are avoided.

 

This is a Sponsored Feature.

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