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Video: The Challenges of Delivering Reliable, Adaptive, Scalable Low-Latency Video
Wowza's Tim Dougherty and Streaming Media's Tim Siglin discuss how Wowza is meeting the challenges of keeping latency down for live video with its Streaming Cloud in this interview from Streaming Media East 2017.
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Tim Siglin: Welcome back to Streaming Media East 2017. We're late in the first day of the show. There have been a number of sessions, a number of panels, keynotes and the like. Tim, introduce yourself to the audience and tell us a little bit about yourself to begin with.

Tim Dougherty: Hi, sure. Tim Dougherty with Wowza Media Systems. I am a Solution Engineer, which means I work with regular people and some irregular people, enjoy working with both. I do my best to get people to put together video streaming work flows using, of course, our Wowza Streaming Engine and certainly our Wowza Streaming Cloud.

Tim Siglin: Sure.

Tim Dougherty: I've had an opportunity the last several years that I've been with the company to touch about every part of the streaming industry, and been working down at the tactical level. Kind of a passion of mine, problem solving, putting components together, working through crazy creative ideas that folks bring to us and yeah. That's really my passion.

Tim Siglin: How much of that, after somebody brings you a crazy idea, turns into a feature, or in a product, or even another product down the line?

Tim Dougherty: Well, that's a great question. If a good idea comes up from ... I want to say the bowels of the industry, but that sounds so inappropriate ... If something comes up that's a great idea, we have access to engineers, we have access to really talented product managers who listen. Of course, we work on a strong set of priorities, but it's rather frequent, actually, that a good idea or a good fix will get into the product.

Tim Siglin: Give me an example of something like that. I'm just curious because you're out there dealing with day-to-day where a product manager, often, may do a feedback round through surveys or something like that, but isn't necessarily tied into the day-to-day.

Tim Dougherty: I'd love to say that it's often something very exciting, but often it can be something we need to tune in the user interface.

Tim Siglin: Okay, got it.

Tim Dougherty: It could be something we need to add or take another look at in a configuration file. I'll give you an example that I would definitely say is not glamorous. If you use DVR with Wowza, by default, it records everything. Well, some of my customers have said, "I turn on a Wowza server and it starts using my entire hard drive." Me, I put my cape on and I go talk to the engineer who did DVR, and I said, "Is there anything you can do about that?" He thought, "Yeah, we could fix that." That's fun, to me, getting a fix into the product and--

Tim Siglin: It's probably fun to the customer not to have their entire hard drive consumed by the DVR.

Tim Dougherty: It's gratifying to the customer when they contribute to that process. Certainly, again, we have a lot of priorities that we deal with, larger scale projects, larger opportunities tend to draw more attention than others. I'm proud of the fact the Wowza puts out a great product that customers participate in the evolution.

Tim Siglin: Sure. What are some of the priorities that the company is working on now moving forward?

Tim Dougherty: Well, we're really aggressive on a low latency. Low latency in the streaming industry, there's the capability today to tune Apple HLS down using small chunk sizes so that you can get inside of six, seven seconds in a stable capacity.

Tim Siglin: Stable is key there because people have gone lower than that and claimed it, but when you look at practicality, stability is a questionable [crosstalk 00:03:33].

Tim Dougherty: Oh, absolutely. That's a really good point, Tim, is you don't want to over tune. It's kind of like ... And this just came to the surface ... how packers will overclock their processors on PCs.

Tim Siglin: Right.

Tim Dougherty: Yeah, it works, but it's not a good idea.

Tim Siglin: Sure.

Tim Dougherty: Another thing we're working on is just doing a really good job getting media streams into environments like Wowza Streaming Cloud for distribution.

Tim Siglin: Okay.

Tim Dougherty: We recently had the ability to push MPEG DASH into Akamai now through our Wowza Streaming Cloud product. Packaging HLS for CDN as opposed to the traditional RTMP routes. A lot of work on that and a lot of work on low latency inside of Wowza. We're really excited with what's going to be happening here in the next several months.

Tim Siglin: On a panel I just did we were talking about low latency. In fact, we were talking about Latency Sucks, the article I'd written. Then, of course, I co-wrote a thought leadership paper with Chris Knowlton before he left Wowza. One of the things they were talking about was UDP Ingest as opposed to RTMP for in the past. You mentioned being able to package things up in HLS to push into CDN for Akamai. Are you seeing UDP ... People making a request for UDP to be delivered as part of the ingestion from the media server to the CDN?

Tim Dougherty: I don't have statistics to back this up.

Tim Siglin: Mm-hmm (affirmative).

Tim Dougherty: I would say, from my fairly limited vantage point, that it's relatively 50/50.

Tim Siglin: Okay.

Tim Dougherty: One of the challenges with ingest UDP is you have to do some opening of firewalls, you have to do some technical work. That can imply some security issues. The other side of it is, we're recently working with the SRT, which was made open source by High Vision, and that particular protocol over UDP brings in a whole bunch of error correcting, high efficiency. There's a demo that we have, we were showing it at NAB, that's very compelling, where you have a 2% packet loss video and you apply this error correction, which leverages UDP technology and it actually works.

Tim Siglin: Nice.

Tim Dougherty: I would say that we'll probably see some aggressive trending in that direction.

Tim Siglin: I think the question that had come up in that audience was essentially scale from UDP. Ultimately, the Akamai was UDP on the ingest, UDP at some points on the outgest ...

Tim Dougherty: Okay.

Tim Siglin: Dealing with it in a more traditional manner in the middle of the CDN and being able to deliver quickly out to the edges to be able to then keep the latency down.

Tim Dougherty: Mm-hmm (affirmative).

Tim Siglin: Where do you all see latency? What kinds of solutions are you solving in the latency space, because you're at the core, no pun, of the network, because you're the media server itself?

Tim Dougherty: Well, just at a real practical level, we'll have casual engagements inside the company where we're actually measuring latency with different networks. We'll watch a news program on DirecTV and compare it to their website, then we'll compare it to Facebook Live.

Tim Siglin: Got it.

Tim Dougherty: It's actually really interesting, from a broadcast standpoint, to see that sometimes the satellite isn't as fast as the internet.

Tim Siglin: Right.

Tim Dougherty: But this is the real driving issue, if there's a social media buzz around a particular broadcast, it could be an athletic event, and somebody puts on their Twitter, "Yes! They scored! They won," And someone's 10 seconds behind or longer ...

Tim Siglin: Yep, yep.

Tim Dougherty: That's an issue, so we want to solve that problem. We want to it really well and we want to be able to scale it and we want it to be adaptive and something that you can rely on like we rely on HLS.

Tim Siglin: Will that be solved both in your Cloud version as well as something that would go into the perpetual license product to the Streaming Engine itself?

Tim Dougherty: I would tell you that there's a lot of planning going into that and it's going to be a component of our Wowza Streaming Cloud offering.

Tim Siglin: The Cloud Offering. I got it.

Tim Dougherty: Initially, it's going to be very API-driven.

Tim Siglin: Okay.

Tim Dougherty: In fact, I'll be honest with you, it'll be 100% API-driven. Not unlike Wowza in its formative years where it was driven by configuration files, a lot of XML, the JAVA devs went crazy over it. It's going to be something that the API developer ... and that covers a wide array of the developer community ... will be able to deploy, to scale, to get involved with a low-latency protocol that I think will really make a difference.

Tim Siglin: Okay, cool, very good. Thank you again, Tim. This is Streaming Media East 2017, end of day one.

Tim Siglin:                          Welcome back to Streaming Media East 2017. We're late in the first day of the show. There have been a number of sessions, a number of panels, keynotes and the like. Tim, introduce yourself to the audience and tell us a little bit about yourself to begin with.

Tim Dougherty:                 Hi, sure. Tim Dougherty with Wowza Media Systems. I am a Solution Engineer, which means I work with regular people and some irregular people, enjoy working with both. I do my best to get people to put together video streaming work flows using, of course, our Wowza Streaming Engine and certainly our Wowza Streaming Cloud.

Tim Siglin:                          Sure.

Tim Dougherty:                 I've had an opportunity the last several years that I've been with the company to touch about every part of the streaming industry, and been working down at the tactical level. Kind of a passion of mine, problem solving, putting components together, working through crazy creative ideas that folks bring to us and yeah. That's really my passion.

Tim Siglin:                          How much of that, after somebody brings you a crazy idea, turns into a feature, or in a product, or even another product down the line?

Tim Dougherty:                 Well, that's a great question. If a good idea comes up from ... I want to say the bowels of the industry, but that sounds so inappropriate ... If something comes up that's a great idea, we have access to engineers, we have access to really talented product managers who listen. Of course, we work on a strong set of priorities, but it's rather frequent, actually, that a good idea or a good fix will get into the product.

Tim Siglin:                          Give me an example of something like that. I'm just curious because you're out there dealing with day-to-day where a product manager, often, may do a feedback round through surveys or something like that, but isn't necessarily tied into the day-to-day.

Tim Dougherty:                 I'd love to say that it's often something very exciting, but often it can be something we need to tune in the user interface.

Tim Siglin:                          Okay, got it.

Tim Dougherty:                 It could be something we need to add or take another look at in a configuration file. I'll give you an example that I would definitely say is not glamorous. If you use DVR with Wowza, by default, it records everything. Well, some of my customers have said, "I turn on a Wowza server and it starts using my entire hard drive." Me, I put my cape on and I go talk to the engineer who did DVR, and I said, "Is there anything you can do about that?" He thought, "Yeah, we could fix that." That's fun, to me, getting a fix into the product and--

Tim Siglin:                          It's probably fun to the customer not to have their entire hard drive consumed by the DVR.

Tim Dougherty:                 It's gratifying to the customer when they contribute to that process. Certainly, again, we have a lot of priorities that we deal with, larger scale projects, larger opportunities tend to draw more attention than others. I'm proud of the fact the Wowza puts out a great product that customers participate in the evolution.

Tim Siglin:                          Sure. What are some of the priorities that the company is working on now moving forward?

Tim Dougherty:                 Well, we're really aggressive on a low latency. Low latency in the streaming industry, there's the capability today to tune Apple HLS down using small chunk sizes so that you can get inside of six, seven seconds in a stable capacity.

Tim Siglin:                          Stable is key there because people have gone lower than that and claimed it, but when you look at practicality, stability is a questionable [crosstalk 00:03:33].

Tim Dougherty:                 Oh, absolutely. That's a really good point, Tim, is you don't want to over tune. It's kind of like ... And this just came to the surface ... how packers will overclock their processors on PCs.

Tim Siglin:                          Right.

Tim Dougherty:                 Yeah, it works, but it's not a good idea.

Tim Siglin:                          Sure.

Tim Dougherty:                 Another thing we're working on is just doing a really good job getting media streams into environments like Wowza Streaming Cloud for distribution.

Tim Siglin:                          Okay.

Tim Dougherty:                 We recently had the ability to push MPEG DASH into Akamai now through our Wowza Streaming Cloud product. Packaging HLS for CDN as opposed to the traditional RTMP routes. A lot of work on that and a lot of work on low latency inside of Wowza. We're really excited with what's going to be happening here in the next several months.

Tim Siglin:                          On a panel I just did we were talking about low latency. In fact, we were talking about Latency Sucks, the article I'd written. Then, of course, I co-wrote a thought leadership paper with Chris Knowlton before he left Wowza. One of the things they were talking about was UDP Ingest as opposed to RTMP for in the past. You mentioned being able to package things up in HLS to push into CDN for Akamai. Are you seeing UDP ... People making a request for UDP to be delivered as part of the ingestion from the media server to the CDN?

Tim Dougherty:                 I don't have statistics to back this up.

Tim Siglin:                          Mm-hmm (affirmative).

Tim Dougherty:                 I would say, from my fairly limited vantage point, that it's relatively 50/50.

Tim Siglin:                          Okay.

Tim Dougherty:                 One of the challenges with ingest UDP is you have to do some opening of firewalls, you have to do some technical work. That can imply some security issues. The other side of it is, we're recently working with the SRT, which was made open source by High Vision, and that particular protocol over UDP brings in a whole bunch of error correcting, high efficiency. There's a demo that we have, we were showing it at NAB, that's very compelling, where you have a 2% packet loss video and you apply this error correction, which leverages UDP technology and it actually works.

Tim Siglin:                          Nice.

Tim Dougherty:                 I would say that we'll probably see some aggressive trending in that direction.

Tim Siglin:                          I think the question that had come up in that audience was essentially scale from UDP. Ultimately, the Akamai was UDP on the ingest, UDP at some points on the outgest ...

Tim Dougherty:                 Okay.

Tim Siglin:                          Dealing with it in a more traditional manner in the middle of the CDN and being able to deliver quickly out to the edges to be able to then keep the latency down.

Tim Dougherty:                 Mm-hmm (affirmative).

Tim Siglin:                          Where do you all see latency? What kinds of solutions are you solving in the latency space, because you're at the core, no pun, of the network, because you're the media server itself?

Tim Dougherty:                 Well, just at a real practical level, we'll have casual engagements inside the company where we're actually measuring latency with different networks. We'll watch a news program on DirecTV and compare it to their website, then we'll compare it to Facebook Live.

Tim Siglin:                          Got it.

Tim Dougherty:                 It's actually really interesting, from a broadcast standpoint, to see that sometimes the satellite isn't as fast as the internet.

Tim Siglin:                          Right.

Tim Dougherty:                 But this is the real driving issue, if there's a social media buzz around a particular broadcast, it could be an athletic event, and somebody puts on their Twitter, "Yes! They scored! They won," And someone's 10 seconds behind or longer ...

Tim Siglin:                          Yep, yep.

Tim Dougherty:                 That's an issue, so we want to solve that problem. We want to it really well and we want to be able to scale it and we want it to be adaptive and something that you can rely on like we rely on HLS.

Tim Siglin:                          Will that be solved both in your Cloud version as well as something that would go into the perpetual license product to the Streaming Engine itself?

Tim Dougherty:                 I would tell you that there's a lot of planning going into that and it's going to be a component of our Wowza Streaming Cloud offering.

Tim Siglin:                          The Cloud Offering. I got it.

Tim Dougherty:                 Initially, it's going to be very API-driven.

Tim Siglin:                          Okay.

Tim Dougherty:                 In fact, I'll be honest with you, it'll be 100% API-driven. Not unlike Wowza in its formative years where it was driven by configuration files, a lot of XML, the JAVA devs went crazy over it. It's going to be something that the API developer ... and that covers a wide array of the developer community ... will be able to deploy, to scale, to get involved with a low-latency protocol that I think will really make a difference.

Tim Siglin:                          Okay, cool, very good. Thank you again, Tim. This is Streaming Media East 2017, end of day one.

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