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The State of Enterprise Video 2016

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While not necessarily a part of the overall security strategy, authentication is a key integration area that sets enterprise video platforms apart from the more consumer-focused media and entertainment platforms. Integration with existing enterprise human resources tools, project management, or even email and IT authentication—from Active Directory to LDAP to OpenAuthentication (OATH)—allows an enterprise to apply known authentication options to media delivery within the enterprise. Active Directory has been in use for role-based authentication in enterprise file sharing for more than a decade, is approved by enterprise IT departments for access to documents and other nonvideo assets, and may be adequate to grant employee access video-based assets.

If one of these known authentication options is used, the upside is that the second trend—the need to measure viewership and quality of experience—can be easily correlated on an employee-by-employee basis. Boyll, for instance, said client-side analytics, and subsequent measurements of quality of service, are key to his enterprise video needs as a way to measure or quantify the user experience.

Mobile and the Art of Unified Communication

A significant amount of digital ink has been spent on the topic of mobile video for the enterprise. As we move into 2016, the need for enterprise video platforms to properly address a mobile solution continues to grow. Yet even as mobile delivery needs rise, only a limited number of EVPs have addressed the overarching security issues enterprise communications managers face.

Any delivery of content from the intranet to the public network, regardless of whether it goes to a road warrior employee or a key vendor, has to pass over an IT infrastructure. Getting IT buy-in, then, is critical to properly addressing a mobile strategy, even for devices that the IT department itself has issued (e.g., non-BYOD devices).

Fortunately, the integration of unified communications (UCC) into the enterprise, from Skype for Business to SharePoint to any number of soft codec videoconferencing solutions, may have already set in motion the necessary discussions around enterprise video platforms.

Add to this employee expectations that BYOD devices will work with the company’s internal AV options in meeting rooms, corporate boardrooms, and even cafeterias—either via dedicated AV equipment or lower-priced consumer gear such as the Google Chromecast or AirPlay via an AppleTV box connected to a huddle room’s wall-mounted flat panel—and it’s possible that IT has already crossed a number of the key objection hurdles.

In fact, it’s even possible that IT has opened a number of the key ports needed to deliver video content to the mobile employee (or the employee’s mobile, whichever comes first). While most content will be delivered as on-demand content, meaning that a media server can deliver the video via one of the many flavors of HTTP streaming segmentation, there will still be a need to have particular ports open if an enterprise-wide live webcast is envisioned.

Lockheed Martin, for example, has even gone so far as to create multicast sections of its internal corporate network, meaning that all-hands or regional meetings can be broadcast to every employee without overburdening the network.

Cloudy or Not

One final area is the need to decide on one of three strategies when it comes to capital expenditures (capex) and operational expenses (opex). The three options include on-prem (in-house) enterprise video platforms, cloud-based enterprise video delivery solutions, or a hybrid combination of both.

Far and away, in survey after survey that I’ve analyzed in conjunction with Unisphere, Streaming Media, and key industry sponsors, the primary reason to use an online video service is an intent to lower overall capex while still gaining (or retaining) the ability to deliver to multiple devices.

Delivering a quality video experience to large audiences, complete with security and content protection schemes intact, almost begs for cloud-based delivery. But even in an enterprise setting, where multidevice delivery may be limited to only a dozen different approved devices, there’s still a significant challenge.

A recent Streaming Media/Unisphere survey on hosted video services highlighted this trend. When asked to rate the critical features and services they need from an online video platform, survey respondents were very clear. Far and away, the highest-ranked response was a multidevice delivery capability, trailed by a need for strong analytics, adaptive bitrate, and global delivery.

Is multidevice delivery the exclusive realm of cloud-based video delivery solutions? By no means. But one trend is clear: Live webcasts can originate from within the corporate firewall, but any company attempting delivery outside the corporate network—especially if it involves multiple mobile devices, from smartphones to tablets—should strongly consider the use of at least a hybrid solution.

An optimal hybrid solution, balancing security and accessibility, might include an origin server which resides on the corporate network, coupled with a cloud-based solution that handles the transrating, transcoding, and repackaging for HTTP-based dynamic delivery to mobile devices.

Conclusion

We’ve barely scratched the surface of the current state of enterprise video delivery, not really even touching on the areas of accessibility and closed-captioning requirements, or integrated polling and lecture capture. But it’s clear that the consumer market’s ease of streaming and even local “throwing” of content from an iDevice to a nearby flat panel monitor is having a significant impact on the design philosophies and technical details surrounding enterprise video platforms.

We expect this blurring of lines to continue throughout 2016 and well into 2017. Enterprise video platform vendors that can solve the security issues, while maintaining a quality user experience, should be encouraged by the consumer push for video in the workplace. After all, if it’s easy to do at home, why shouldn’t we expect that our workplace would offer us the same ease of use when it comes to creating and consuming streaming video content?

This article appears in the 2016 Streaming Media Industry Sourcebook.

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