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Enterprise Video: Considerations for Deployment in the Cloud

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Video (both live and on-demand) has become a powerful tool for increasing the effectiveness of organizational communication. A number of changes are driving this trend: an increase in remote workers, outsourcing and globalization of operations, and the desire for more personalized contact across geographic and cultural boundaries.

Delivery of video assets in the cloud enables employees anywhere to access resources that can improve personal and professional development, internal communications, and collaboration. Cloud deployment can be faster than on-premises deployment, simplify operations for the applications that use video, preserve investments made in on-premises infrastructure, and offer options for content security.

But organizations are just starting to understand the many variants of cloud architecture and each one’s impact on business. When embarking on any cloud implementation for the delivery of video it’s important to take the operational, technical and economic differences into consideration.

Different Cloud Models for Different Business Needs

By now, we all understand that there are public clouds, private clouds, and a range of hybrid clouds. Knowing which one to use depends on the video content you intend to deliver, as well as the audience.

If your goal is to provide on-demand video for marketing or external audiences, the public cloud can be an easy choice. In this scenario, security requirements are minimal and access is open to the public.

If your content is internally-facing, there are still a number of good options to protect content in a public cloud environment, which is explained in more detail below. For example, a public cloud environment can be configured to enable users to securely upload, automatically transcode and share videos for multiple platforms, and provide a portal where employees can find relevant content. Administrators can assign access rights based on internal user groups and extend the reach of video content to mobile device users.

Organizations looking to provide live streaming video to employees need to take other network issues into consideration. The most important is potential limitations related to concentration of viewers on private networks. This is where a hybrid cloud environment can be beneficial: In this case, a hybrid cloud is defined as one leveraging edge devices on the corporate network for stream splitting and caching to minimize impact to the corporate network.

For example, during a live event, all stream requests traverse the company firewall and hit the video service in the cloud. The return video traffic, unless managed, will go through the network firewall with a separate stream for every viewer, and can adversely impact the speed and performance of the inbound internet connection or even the company intranet.

In a hybrid cloud environment network performance can be protected from overload when a large number of employees tune in to live streams, whereas this is not an option when streaming from a public cloud environment to employees on the same corporate network.

Security in the Cloud

When deploying any cloud solution, security questions arise. Having an enterprise video platform helps remove most of the risk from cloud deployment. The best enterprise video platforms have built-in security features to provide security while still offering the flexibility to customize the experience for users.

Consider an enterprise video platform that hosts and serves both the application and content from an Amazon Web Services (AWS) data center. AWS provides the best in-class data center security services including:

  • SOC 1 Type 2 (supersedes SAS 70 Type 2), SOC 2 Type 2, ISO 27001 certifications
  • Amazon controlled data centers, with stringent physical controls to prevent unauthorized access
  • Industry leading Information Security Management Systems (ISMS) to ensure service availability, data privacy, intrusion prevention, and disaster recovery

The application and shared services can be quarantined in virtual private cloud subnets and, for maximum security, access to these instances is regulated by three lines of defense:

  1. All communication from the outside world is regulated via an internet gateway. Instances are not visible to the outside world.
  2. Connectivity to the subnets is regulated via routing tables and network access control lists.
  3. Connectivity to the instance is regulated via security groups.

To guarantee content security, video delivered via any cloud environment should be programmed to feature some essential elements:

  • Multi-Tenancy: Allows you to set up and configure a cloud platform almost instantly and for a “domain” to automatically generate a social video portal that can be skinned. Settings for encoders and distribution options can then be defined.
  • Automated Workflow: Supports automatic transcoding of video content into multiple formats and bitrates and submission to an approval and publishing workflow.
  • Access Control: Provides identity management that supports SAML for single sign-on. Ideally, look for flexible, built-in capability to create user accounts manually, automatically by leveraging an LDAP system, or by user self-registration.
  • Scalability: Video naturally creates spikes in usage when users are connecting to a live streaming event or when an email promoting a newly posted video on-demand program goes out. The ideal platform should automatically scale up or down to meet your needs.
  • Reliability: Solution components should be built for reliability and failover on all levels with clustered application instances and the capability to add new instances on-the-fly.

Organizations with a high level of interactivity with on-premises systems and a high degree of security should also consider leveraging a virtual private network (VPN). This offers complete control over the virtual networking environment and promotes system interoperability. A key advantage of a VPN is the ability to store video content behind the corporate firewall. This adds security for proprietary information and gives the video management application direct access to the company user directory, simplifying authentication and single sign-on.

Video in the cloud is an easily-adaptable business platform that offers a low-risk, flexible, and immediate solution to the complexity of rich content implementation and distribution. By choosing the right platform to meet business needs, organizations can provide employees with a dynamic and contemporary collaborative medium in a secure environment.

StreamingMedia.com occasionaly accepts guest posts if they are vendor-neutral and of value to our reader. Vern Hanzlik is a general manager at Qumu.

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