The State of Enterprise Video 2018
In a recent monthly live webcast on SMAdvancedForum, Frost & Sullivan principal analyst (and former Streaming Media VP) Dan Rayburn deftly addressed the elephant in the room when it comes to media-centric online video platforms: “You can’t just add a few features and repackage it and call it enterprise or education.”
Rayburn was referring to a point we made fairly strongly in last year’s Streaming Media Industry Sourcebook: Enterprise video platforms (EVPs) aren’t just “lite” versions of a media and entertainment video platform. Let’s delve a bit deeper into the historic learning curve that’s brought us to the point of having OVPs focused on particular verticals.
“What the vendors learned very quickly, because a lot of them made that mistake over the past 10 years, is that they think they can transition from one vertical to the other,” said Rayburn, noting that OVP vendors often think that they can leverage a broadcast solution into an enterprise solution. They’ll often say, ‘We have a service, a product, a platform to sell to broadcast. Now we’re [going to] sell to enterprise or education,’” he added.
Not so fast, says Rayburn, and from experience with EVP solutions, I agree that there are a number of key challenges to be faced, not the least of which is the question of unneeded features that often come as part of a media video platform.
“The moment you go into enterprise,” Rayburn posited, “what do you have to do? Well, first and foremost you’re not inserting ads. That’s a huge thing. You’re not monetizing video. You have to tie into SharePoint and all these custom management systems and internet portals. That’s a whole different business right there.”
Let’s explore that thought a bit.
SharePoint relied on another Microsoft product, Silverlight, up through the 2013 version of the SharePoint server. With the deprecation of Silverlight, there’s no real fallback position for enterprise solutions that want to use streaming video in various formats. Support for Silverlight in Chrome on all other operating systems was disabled by default in April 2015 and was removed completely in September 2015; support for the newest version—Silverlight 5—will end in October 2021.
So that’s one key area where an EVP can add value: integration into SharePoint as the video “extension” of the overall SharePoint document-sharing ecosystem.
With the advent of SharePoint Server 2016, though, Microsoft is fully committed to HTML5 players. And that’s good, because HTML5 is now the default way to play video in the Chrome browser, and users must indicate their desire to use plug in players like the Adobe Flash Player or Silverlight on a site-by-site basis.
Microsoft’s commitment to SharePoint integration also extends to the use of hybrid solutions, leveraging the Microsoft Azure cloud platform alongside a SharePoint Server instance—either on-prem or in a separate cloud instance—to offer a total video playback and collaboration solution for enterprise. If, of course, you’re fully committed to the whole enterprise being a Microsoft shop.
Viorel Iftode has an excellent tutorial on how to address Azure Media Services (AMS) with SharePoint servers, including SharePoint Server 2016. “In an Azure Media Services and SharePoint 2010/2013/2016 configuration,” writes Iftode, “the main two advantages are: robust playback experience and simplicity.”
The main downside of this type of integration, as Iftode notes, is security. “In very short—you will use SharePoint as an interface to the media content, but the streamed media will not be hosted on-premises,” writes Iftode, “and the mechanisms to restrict the access to the published media content are rudimentary (the identity management is missing, but there are different combinations who can tick couple of security requirements).”
That’s an issue Rayburn brought up on the SMAdvancedForum chat, too.
“You have all the security requirements that are unique inside a Fortune 500 enterprise closed network,” said Rayburn.
One workaround that Iftode recommends is to host everything on an on-prem SharePoint server—documents, videos, even chat.
“[H]ost everything (media files + HTML5 player) in SharePoint—basically not having any dependency hosted on internet,” writes Iftode. “The main advantage is the security, [but] the main disadvantage is the playback experience ...”
One of the major issues Iftode points out is the fact that users are likely to “encounter playback interruptions due to the network bandwidth limitations” since the SharePoint video serving solution doesn’t provide adaptive bitrate (ABR) streaming.
And that is a key advantage of an EVP: It stays abreast of media formats, including multiple ABR formats, in a way that a collaboration and document server like SharePoint seldom can touch, especially for on-prem versions.
Pricing is a key differentiator between a media OVP and an EVP solution.
“When you’re going into enterprise, it’s turning into a software sale,” said Rayburn, “and they typically like to buy that software based on a seat license. That’s very opposite of broadcast. You also have the issue from an update standpoint, what you’re doing with the software,” said Rayburn, pointing out that many solutions that sit inside a firewall aren’t as easily upgraded when it comes to on-prem solutions.
That leads to another continuing advancement in the EVP space: hybrid cloud/on-prem solutions.
In the last Sourcebook, we looked at the emergence of cloud-based solutions but noted the need to consider hybrid alternatives. This year, hybrid solutions are continuing to make significant progress in certain EVP use cases that prioritize security over accessibility.
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