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Live Streaming With Mobile Devices: The BYOD Challenge

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In addition, the company sees “standard” mobile devices as a future trend even in parts of its industry, and the company is rapidly rolling out proof-of-concept for mobile ingest from a number of smartphones.

“Mobile video is becoming increasingly more important for many of our customers,” says Bjørnsund. “We have launched [a] mobile device management system called Hosted Mobiles with the possibility of streaming live video from mobile Android devices to any browser [WebRTC] or video conferencing system.”

Bjørnsund says Pixavi will also soon launch its telepresence app for Android, called Sipido, noting, “[I]t will be the first hardware-accelerated video conferencing app with the possibility of streaming video in full 1080p video from a mobile device.”

The Mobile Intranet

Two other trends seem to be driving mobile video in the enterprise.

The first, something that Qumu and Sonic Foundry are both well aware of, based on feedback they provided for both this story and one in the last issue of Streaming Media magazine, is the use of intranet portals and how those can be beneficial to mobile employees.

Qumu performed a mid-2013 survey in which it asked employees to select from a series of options that the company might benefit from. The questions were specifically geared around companies having a “YouTube-like” video portal.

“Respondents to the survey show significant interest in video benefiting HR functions,” says a Qumu spokesperson, “with 64% saying it would benefit training and 44% saying it could improve HR and benefits communications.”

In addition, the survey showed that, in general, live content for enterprise viewers trended higher than on demand, which runs a bit counter to the typical approach. We usually see on-demand content being much more desired in the general public.

“One question we asked was whether employees didn’t see a need for video in the enterprise portal,” the spokesperson says. “Only 8% chose that answer, signifying that the other 92% would like some kind of video, but not specifically on-demand, as over 58% of respondents said they’d like to see support for live-video streaming.”

Sonic Foundry’s Brown agrees that live is important, but he sees a benefit to the increased dialogue of on-demand content on a YouTube-like company portal.

“QAD, a California-based company providing software and related services to the manufacturing industry, uses webcasting for talks, lectures and presentations to communicate with employees across the globe,” says Brown. “QAD created QTube, a corporate-style YouTube at QAD with our Mediasite products. Any employee with a laptop, webcam and access to our software can create and publish videos with community updates, professional development and training, as well as rate them, see what videos are being watched and which are the most popular.”

Those videos can be viewed live or on-demand on a desktop or mobile device, he says. “This increases dialogue and engages a globally dispersed workforce.”

HTTP-Based Delivery

The second trend is the emergence of HTTP-based streaming media delivery, with popular content formats such as Apple’s HTTP Live Streaming, Adobe’s HTTP Dynamic Streaming, Microsoft’s Smooth Streaming, and the emerging MPEG-DASH standard.

The upside of HTTP delivery for enterprise security, regardless of whether it’s for mobile devices or a number of deskbound workers behind the corporate firewall, is that HTTP delivery means fewer ports open in the corporate firewall.

HTTP is delivered via the standard port 80, which is open on most routers and firewalls. This means that both web content (images, scripts, and images) as well as video streams flow across the same port. To make video streaming manageable via HTTP, the live or on-demand content is segmented down into 2-second to 10-second segments, which are then sequentially delivered to a client player for playback.

“Any time a port is opened in a perimeter, security control such as a firewall, risk increases,” says Rolf. “However, standard protocols such as HTTP are well understood and can be inspected to help ensure the overall security of the enterprise.”

Rolf adds a word of caution when it comes to HTTP delivery, however, answering a question about the need for deep packet inspection (DPI) to verify media content flowing across a corporate intranet to the mobile road warrior.

“Given the volume of traffic likely needed to support streaming at scale,” he adds, “I am not confident that most currently available inspection platforms can keep up with the load, especially if encryption is utilized.”

The point raised is valid, because HTTP streaming is essentially a progressive download. It would be possible, then, to inspect all packets if the encryption scheme were known and decryption authorized. The resulting workload on the firewall and router, though, would be significantly higher. Latency would also be increased if each router or firewall would choose to decrypt, inspect, and re-encrypt these HTTP video segments before passing them on to the next router.

This is why, Rolf says, companies need to find the proper balance between protection and productivity.

“There is a constant balance between quality of service and security,” says Rolf, “so there is likely an opportunity for an enterprising company to provider security solutions for this specific use case.”

“Making a BYOD security decision should not be done in a vacuum,” he adds. “Given the controls placed on a device, some solutions can have negative impacts on productivity. The overall stance on BYOD varies by vertical and regulatory requirements, but, in the main, making a BYOD decision should be largely informed by a formal risk assessment.”

This article appears in the December 2013 issue of Streaming Media magazine as "The BYOD Challenge."

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