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Local Heroes: Solutions for LAN- and WAN-based Streaming (Part 2)

What About Real Time?
Kontiki’s ability to work without infrastructure converts to a negative in some scenarios, including live multicast transmissions over a WAN. In these instances, since there is no real-time server component, Kontiki provides no benefit at all.

In contrast, both Certeon and Network Appliance can accept a multicast signal from the origin server, and serve it out on the LAN as a multicast or unicast stream. If your network isn’t completely multicast enabled, NetCache appliances can "tunnel," or send a unicast stream from one device to another, converting it back to multicast at the receiving end for transmitting over a multicast-enabled LAN. Obviously, these are important considerations for organizations producing lots of live content distributed via multicast.

What About Administration?

At the user end, of course, Kontiki is the only system that doesn’t run from a plain-Jane browser, so you’ll have to get the software module installed on every target system. In larger organizations, this adds an additional per-user installation cost that’s hard to quantify but impossible to ignore. Balanced against this is the cost of deploying and installing the hardware required by the other systems.

The ROI of VOD

We spoke with W.K. Gus Otto, a senior systems analyst with Caterpillar, about the ROI of VOD. Otto is an unabashed technology enthusiast who uses Certeon technology, but is examining whether a hybrid approach that includes caching appliances from Cisco or Network Appliance should also be considered.

Commenting on the ROI from the Certeon system, which has been in use for two years, Otto says, "Everyone tries to look at the tangible benefits in reduced travel, communications, and materials cost. However, there are lots of intangibles, like satisfying a need for knowledge, that can’t be quantified."

Most important, Otto says, was that streaming media enabled employees to "stay engaged" in the business of the company, which Caterpillar continually measures by polls and hit counts on certain content. A recent profit sharing announcement was posted to the company Web site and viewed more than 60,000 times. While this is obviously an exceptional case, Otto and the company CIO see employee engagement as key to Caterpillar’s long term success, and one of the most significant, non-quantifiable benefits from the Certeon system.

In a white paper sponsored by Network Appliance, the International Data Group (IDC) formulated a more precise ROI metric, though they looked at enterprise content delivery networks (ECDNs), which handle all enterprise data, not just streaming media. IDC interviewed a number of companies that averaged 25,700 employees, with approximately 1900 servers in 105 locations.

According to the white paper, the average company spent about $600,000 on ECDN hardware, with training and maintenance boosting the installation cost to approximately $963,000 in the first year. In terms of reduced travel, document distribution costs, and bandwidth savings, however, the systems generated almost $10 million in savings in the first year alone, with the investment paying for itself in an average of 105 days. Over three years, IDC reported an average ROI of 729%.

In its own white paper, Kontiki reported that it was able to help Ernst & Young satisfy regulatory requirements by letting the professional services firm deliver critical internal information, like policy changes, reliably to all of its 106,000 employees worldwide. That they were able to do so without expensive network hardware and bandwidth upgrades points to the scalability and low per-user cost of Kontiki’s solution, the white paper said.

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