Case Study: Dow Finds the Right Streaming Chemistry
A Four-Pronged Approach
To address Dow’s requirements, Starbak deployed four different components:
- Starbak Manager—This is a centralized management system deployed as a turnkey appliance that provides the ability to manage the devices, content, and users within the global streaming environment. By integrating Starbak Manager with its internal directory systems (via LDAP), Dow was able to offer its users single sign-on (which eliminates the need to enter usernames and passwords to access content). In addition, Starbak Manager provides a dynamic web-based user portal that makes content available immediately after capture.
- Starbak Encoders—These appliance-based capture stations can connect directly to any video source (DVD, VCR, camera, etc.), capture analog video, and digitize the signals to Windows Media format.
- Starbak Conference Engine—This rack mounted appliance enables the addition of PC content (e.g., PowerPoint) and videoconferencing content into the streaming environment. This device allows Dow to use its existing base of videoconferencing systems as content sources.
- Starbak Delivery Nodes—These devices are installed at the edge of the network, close to where users are located, for the purpose of serving video locally, either live or on-demand, over the high-bandwidth LAN at high quality. Managed automatically by the Starbak Manager, these devices optimize content delivery and protect Dow’s production network (LAN and WAN) from the rich media traffic.
The following steps describe how Dow uses DiamondTV:
1. Creating and broadcasting live sessions—For live sessions, Dow leverages both its existing satellite distribution network and DiamondTV. To broadcast live content, presenters go to one of Dow’s satellite uplink locations, from where the content is broadcast live to approximately 80 Dow offices. In six of those 80 locations, the live content is captured using a Starbak Encoder and distributed via Dow’s wide area network (WAN) to smaller offices and those not equipped to receive the satellite signal. The captured content is also added to the content library for on-demand viewing.
2. Creating on-demand/prerecorded sessions—For on-demand sessions, content creators (presenters) either make their presentations in locations equipped with Starbak Encoders or record the content and upload the digital content to the Starbak system. Once digitized, the content is stored on streaming file servers and then automatically distributed to select Starbak Delivery Nodes throughout the world (based on the location of the users authorized to view the content item).
3. Accessing on-demand content—To view rich media content, Dow employees visit the rich media library section (created and dynamically updated by the Starbak Manager based on the user’s credentials) on the company’s intranet. Thanks to the single sign-on feature, the user does not have to log in to the content portal in order to see the content he or she is allowed to view.
The Deployment Experience
The Starbak solution was officially launched in 3Q 2007. To date, roughly 80 programs (content items) have been created and distributed throughout Dow. As of September, approximately 30 sites had access to DiamondTV, with another 120 scheduled for activation by the end of 1Q 2008.