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Streaming Media East Wrap-up

May 19, 2014 Leave a comment

StreamingMediaEast_LGI took the time to head over to Streaming Media East last week for the first time in a few years. I used to go regularly with a previous employer but circumstances hadn’t permitted over the last few shows. I thought it was time to get back over there to see what was latest & greatest in the world of online video.

The short summary is that I learned an awful lot, and it’s still kind of the wild west out there. While a lot is going on in terms of distribution options and content development, there just isn’t a single way of achieving success with a program. My preferred space of the enterprise was not as well represented as I’d like which is probably a combination of few proposals and not a ton of interest from the rest of the audience. The vendor floor was also much thinner than I expected based on previous experience – participants I remember seeing for years weren’t there and the space seemed emptier than I recall.

Key takeaways? Cloud cloud cloud; when some organizations are talking about large live events, they mean over 750,000 concurrent users; the technical infrastructure for ad serving is incredibly complicated. In the end I learned a lot, saw some old friends and made some new connections along the way – which is all anyone could really ask of of a conference. I only managed to get there for Tuesday, so I can’t say this is a full overview, but here’s my detailed wrapup:

Tuesday Keynote – Matthew Szatmary, Twitch

Call the keynote my big OMG moment – it’s only occasionally that I hear something that makes me stop and say “wow, I had no idea, but it makes a lot of sense.” Twitch, in addition to being next on Google’s list of acquisitions is among the largest delivery systems for live video anywhere, and all those people are watching other people play video games. One of my kids is a fan of those videos and I thought it was just her – turns out there are a LOT of people who enjoy being spectators to online gaming. Dan Rayburn shares some of the numbers here from Szatmary’s presentation and they’re astounding. Granted there are more people total watching the some of these events when TV is added to the mix, but online there’s no comparison. Frankly, 1 million broadcasters a month is the giant number to me – I haven’t heard of anyone that comes even close. He explained a lot of the behind the scenes needed to get this many broadcasts to work and it’s just one more facet of the streaming universe that has grown so enormously over the last 10-15 years.

Session B101: Big Streaming: Technical Challenges of Large-Scale Live Events

Not my bread and butter here as I’ve never streamed to the kinds of large groups that MLB and WWE do, but it turned out to be a great session on the specific challenges of streaming to large groups of people. The “how large” issue was another “whoa” moment for me – they explained they mean over 750,000 live viewers and above. As the panelists pointed out, there’s a huge gap between many small events and the giant events baseball and wrestling are called on to deliver. It’s not a simple question of scale, but a whole other way of thinking about how you deliver your streams. Some of the keys here are thorough pre-planning, contingency planning and on-the-fly metrics reviews. The latter was an interesting point – you don’t want to overwhelm yourself with reporting or you won’t get what you need in timely fashion; you also don’t want every jot and tittle or you won’t be able to separate the important information from the junk. Social is also a big key – hints about which games are heating up can tip the production teams off about likely increasing demand for those games. One last thought that should be applied in all cases – when your viewers are paying for a premium product, they expect the best experience possible and you just have to deliver excellently.

Session A102: Content Management Strategies for Enterprise Content Platforms

Surprisingly, not my favorite session of the day. It was one of the few targeted specifically at the enterprise user and I think I was expecting a bit more than I got. The presenters were fine, but a lot of it seemed to focus on how they built their programs and not on the content management process itself. I admit I know more that some people on this subject, but to me the meat of this would be in the content decision making process and the internal/external production debate. Every organization goes through those kinds of exercises – what stays in house, what goes out and why? More discussion about the use of user-generated content would have been welcome as well.

Session B103: Choosing a Corporate YouTube System

A pretty good session overall, though it turned into more of a comparison of available systems and specific implementations of those systems than I think I was expecting. I’m interested here in the strategic thinking – do we allow user generated content or not? What restrictions do we put in place? How is it administered? What kind of security is needed? Again, more strategy here would have been welcome, but in retrospect I don’t think that was the intent of the session.

Session A105: Server-Side Ad Insertion: Reducing Video Player Complexity & Improving Reliability

Another wake-up call for me in this session. I know much less about the ad-delivery world than I should, and based on this session there is an enormous amount to learn. The technical aspects of this are quite complicated and I admit freely I was lost at more than one point during the discussion. For a lot of companies on both ends, however, this is life & death. For the content owners, revenue depends heavily on the ads; for the advertisers, the eyeballs are what they care about; and for the ad serving companies, there are a lot of moving pieces to ensure that both forms of content (ad and programming) are delivered smoothly and correctly. I don’t have a lot of interest in the ad delivery side of things, but it was a good session to go to as a reminder of the huge impact advertising has on the streaming ecosystem.

Image courtesy of StreamingMedia.com; used with permission

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New Conference Announced

June 27, 2012 Leave a comment

Life has intervened, interfering with important tasks like blogging, but this was worth coming out of hibernation for:

Announcing the Enterprise Video Conference, Two-Days Of Content Focused on Enterprise and Edu Video Deployments

I’m delighted to see that Streaming Media has extended their already valuable conference to include this very critical area of online video.  If there was one thing about the Streaming Media East conference I found lacking it was the focus on enterprise-level video creation, production and delivery.  The sessions on YouTube and monetizing your videos are fine, but there are very specific nuances & needs for the enterprise, and I’m glad they’ve seen fit to expand the conference for that audience.  While I expect some growing pains, this is a great opportunity to really debate, discuss and share the key aspects of online video affecting large organizations.

They’ve also announced the list of advisory board members for the show, and I’m delighted with the selection.  I know two of the members from both past shows and from a vendor-client relationship, and I think it’s a great group of people that will help build a strong conference focused on the needs of enterprise managers.  Unfortunately I doubt I’ll be able to make it to the West Coast for this one, but perhaps they’ll extend it to the SM East conference next year.  If you’re out in LA in October, I’d add this to your schedule.

Categories: resources Tags: ,

The 80% Solution

July 25, 2011 2 comments

There’s an often cited report from Cisco that “80% of the bandwidth across the internet will be video traffic by 2015” (Here’s the report, and here’s a breakdown from a blogger).  Leaving aside the quality and accuracy of Cisco’s forecasting, it raises an important question for video and communications managers:

How much of that video will serve any purpose for our business?

Over 50% of the reported video delivered is Hulu, Netflix streaming, set-top delivery, etc. – all the entertainment a viewer could want.  But what about the enterprise?  Will 80% of the available network bandwidth for businesses be taken up by video communication?  And will that video contain material that communicates necessary information to enable the employees to do their jobs correctly, or even better than before?

I think we have to highlight the difference between volume of data and impact of that data.  Video uses a lot of bandwidth – there’s simply a lot of information that needs to travel from one location to another, or to many other locations.  Yes, a five minute video, even streamed at a low bitrate, involves sending 50-100 MB of data from a server or encoder across a pipe.  But that doesn’t mean the data is more important than a one-page memo in Word format that eats up only 150KB of space – it only means that it needs more resources to travel from point A to B.

There’s no overall “owner” of the internet that cares about getting the most out of its bandwidth and resources.  There are millions of individual content owners and billions of content consumers who care about their individual transactions and experiences, but viewed overall it’s a mosaic of billions of independent events.  At the enterprise level, however, there is a contained universe of people driven by a broad strategic goal – do what we do as well as we can to help our organization succeed.  That could be selling more widgets than anyone else, or delivering the most food aid possible to starving people.

Whatever the goal, there needs to be an overall understanding that the limited resources of the organization need to be deployed in the best way possible to meet that goal.  So even if Cisco’s prediction is accurate for a broad mosaic of transactions across the globe, it doesn’t necessarily translate into 80% of the enterprise’s bandwidth being turned towards video.  I’m a proud supporter of video in the enterprise, and I do believe it’s the best way to communicate internally and externally.  I do think a larger chunk of bandwidth used in the enterprise will be video, and that it will be used for important business functions.  But when you look at the use of video within the smaller universe of organizations, I’d be surprised if the volume keeps pace with that of the wider world.

Busman’s Holiday

January 30, 2011 Leave a comment

I’m back from a too short vacation with the family out to warmer climes – most of all I appreciated the chance to skip shoveling snow for the first time this winter.

While we were out West I took the chance to mix in some business, and I had an opportunity to tour a CMMA colleague’s shop out there (thanks, AG!)  They’re a bigger outfit than we are, in terms of geographical spread, staffing, and demand.  Where we do about 20-30 live teleconferences a week, they do about 75 per DAY.  Needless to say they need more staff than we do, and they’ve completely custom built their networking, endpoint, and UI infrastructure.

Despite the differences, what I took out of it is that we’re all feeling the same pressures, and we’re pushed by the same needs.  We have scheduling issues, they have scheduling issues.  They have pushback from clients, we have pushback from clients.  I admit to some jealousy, as they do have more resources than we do to manage their needs, but the reality is we’re only different in scale, not in practical experiences.

It was nice to get away, but it’s also nice to see how other people are working and how we match up.

IT and Streaming Media – Part II

January 4, 2011 Leave a comment

The first post got a bit long, so I’ll continue here for those who want this in more digestible chunks.

Situation 3: Let’s Webcast, everybody!

In this common situation, someone gets the bright idea to offer a new service or communication method without quite understanding it and without explaining themselves to the underlings who have to make it happen.

Our fictional VP of Marketing decides that the organization needs to start webcasting based on hearing the term at a seminar.  The competition is webcasting, so we have to as well.  A kickoff meeting is held with senior representatives of multiple business departments and IT and the VP lays out this grand vision of webcasting everything from CEO presentations to the annual company picnic.  The execs leave the meeting with an action plan of assigning people lower down the food chain to realize this vision. Read more…

IT and Streaming Media – Part I

January 4, 2011 Leave a comment

Like most other corporate efforts in the modern age, there are two sides to every streaming media deployment – the business side and the technology side.  There’s no real rule about where multimedia efforts lie – sometimes IT owns it, sometimes a business department.  (I happen to be on the business end – our department is part of the marketing arm of the organization.)  The key issue, as you might expect, is the quality of the communication and relationship between the two sides – a strong partnership leads to successful efforts, and antagonism leads to failure.  This is no different from virtually all other corporate activity. I’m going to attempt to highlight some of the possible contentious points and suggest some ideas to prevent them in advance, or short-circuit them before they become insurmountable.

I’m fortunate that I speak passable tech as well as good business priorities.  It’s a lot simpler to have detailed conversations with the IT side if you understand a bit about what they do and how their technology is deployed and administered.  80-90% of the problems between the business and IT sides develop because they aren’t communicating to each other clearly.  As has been said about the US and Great Britain, they are two peoples separated by a common language. Read more…

Beet.tv

November 30, 2010 Leave a comment

Late to the party I’m sure, but I just ran across beet.tv thanks to a post by a LinkedIn connection.  I need to look it over more carefully, but this may end up in my link list.  Lots of news and analysis of the online media world.

Categories: resources
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