Planning for Webcasting Success
—HTTP content, including graphics and image synchronization information, from the speaker’s computer is sent to multiple load-balanced web servers.
—The media streams and HTTP content are sent to multicast routers, which enable organizations to send a single stream across the backbone network that is later "split" and sent to routers located closest to the end user.
—End users access webcasts via single sign on or another authorized secure login process that authenticates them against an SQL or other database.
—The webcast leverages IP bandwidth via the corporate VPN or eCDN.
—Archive versions of all webcast files (streaming and web) are routed to network-attached storage.
—Links to archived webcasts are included in the organization’s media management or content management system, which resides on application servers.
Architectural ConsiderationsStudies have repeatedly proven the viral nature of online multimedia communications in the enterprise; once employees experience compelling and exciting multimedia communications, they want to not only receive more information in this fashion but also participate in the creation of multimedia communications content. A successful enterprise streaming initiative, by default, must therefore be prewired for rapid scalability. Understanding how that system is built will dramatically affect scalability, as it determines whether it will unnecessarily consume network resources that could otherwise be used to accommodate more business units, more capture devices, and more desktop-enabled webcasters.
Centralized and Decentralized Network Environments
Truly scalable, enterprisewide solutions will be designed for deployment over a highly decentralized network environment using multicasting technology. Rather than a unicast network, which sends one video stream to each viewer, multicasting enables media streams to be delivered simultaneously to multiple destinations by assigning special IP addresses to the multicast packets and by using session announcement protocol (SAP) to tell user applications when and how to connect to the multicast.
Whether being used to create, deliver, or collect information, truly scalable enterprise webcasting solutions must be capable of creating bandwidth-optimized content without inhibiting the users' ability to fully utilize their infrastructure. A content creation solution, for example, should enable users to publish in multiple bitrates, adjust video and image quality to achieve the optimal file size, and enable users to fully leverage its infrastructure regardless of server, cache, and/or CDN topography. Similarly, management and tracking solutions must be designed in a way that enables them to track, collect, assimilate, and deliver information without impacting the quality of the event they are measuring.
Enterprise webcasting platforms that take an open system, standards-based approach (versus proprietary) enable clients to expand capacity using their existing network hardware, platforms, and purchasing contracts. This also enables the enterprise webcasting platform to operate in the mixed-network environments of today’s multimerger, multinational corporations. Whether it is Cisco, BlueCoat, Windows Media servers, VPN, or multiple CDNs, a variety of legacy systems and multiple external services are leveraged by most enterprises to reach the widest audiences possible. Subjecting these clients to arbitrary server licensing or mandatory hardware devices hampers their ability to expand rapidly and cost-effectively.