eCDNs and Optimizing Hybrid Event QoS and QoE
What are some of the best ways enterprise streamers can produce and deliver high-engagement and high-reliability hybrid events that serve their streaming audiences as effectively as their on-site participants? The answer combines art and science, strategy, and tech. Andy Howard, Founder & Managing Director, Howard & Associates, discusses this topic with Mike Newman, CEO, MediaPlatform, and Dan Swiney, Head of Media Engineering, LinkedIn.
Andy Howard asks Mike Newman, “What are your customers asking you guys to innovate in the next few years?”
Newman focuses on how hybrid experiences should be optimized for both virtual and in-person audiences. “You’re trying to deal with fluidity,” he says, pointing out that audiences now comprise a wide range of settings, such as someone in a car, at a conference audience, or in a corporate meeting. What matters most, he believes, is optimizing engagement, especially for live audiences at hybrid events. “Can they participate in the Q&A, the polling?” he says. “Can they vote their sentiments? Do they feel like they're getting the same experience as some of the online people participating? The real trick to it is having the right amount of engagement for wherever that person is residing or watching and also not compromising the other aspects of online presentations that you may have really grown accustomed to having. For instance, tracking, monitoring, analytics, quality of service monitoring, security authentication.”
Newman notes that one element which is rapidly changing is the acquisitions of Enterprise Content Delivery Network (eCDN) companies. “You had Peer5 acquired by Microsoft,” he says. “They're embedding the distribution technology and teams. This is an area of innovation where you'll be able to aggregate some really critical quality of service, metrics, and some real-time monitoring that's kind of holistic across CDNs. You'll be able to do some really interesting things with silent testing, very interesting things with failover.” He jokes that those things may be as “glamorous as getting your chimney swept,” but even so, they are essential. “For day-to-day successfully delivering content to tens of thousands of people, it's mission-critical,” he says. “And it's an area where under the umbrella of hybrid, we're spending a lot of time and really investing in our partnerships with companies like Microsoft.”
Dan Swiney of LinkedIn emphasizes that eCDNs are still crucial, even without a full return of participants to on-site content delivery infrastructures. “The question does come up with our eCDN, ‘Do we need it?’” he says. “It turns out it has lots of other valuable features, like [Newman] talked about, analytics and failover and other features that we actually do need.” Swiney says that even though LinkedIn is not using their onsite campus as often, “It's something you have to get out in front of because you don’t want your IT folks knocking on the door after you onboard a platform that doesn't have an eCDN feature or some solution like that.”
Howard readily agrees with all of these points. “I've heard a couple different people say, ‘I don't need an eCDN anymore. And I'm like, well, eventually people are going to start coming back to the office. And when they are in the office, not only are they doing webcasts and webinars, but they're also doing video conferencing,” he says. “So there's a tremendous amount of increased video on the network, and you really need to get ahead of that to make sure that your events don't fail. We don’t want to go back to the early 2000s when you have a big webcast, and it went down because you decided to decommission your eCDN.”
Learn more about eCDNs at Streaming Media East 2023.
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