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id3as CEO Adrian Roe Intros Norsk Low Code Live Video SDK

Adrian Roe, Ph.D., CEO, Norsk, sits down with Tim Siglin, Founding Executive Director, Help Me Stream Research Foundation, and Contributing Editor, Streaming Media, to introduce Norsk low code live video SDK in this interview from Streaming Media East 2023.

Siglin begins by asking Roe to describe what Norsk is.

“Id3as is the company behind Norsk, and I’m the Chief Executive of Ideas,” Roe says. “And for a dozen or so years, we've been building highly customized, large scale live video workflows for our customers. What we've been doing for the last three or more years is to package that up in a way that our customers and partners can start to build these sophisticated live workflows themselves without needing really in-depth skills that know exactly how one particular media format or codec or container works.”

“You gave an analogy this morning that showed a four input, essentially video conference, so to speak, with 110 lines of code,” Siglin says. “But you pointed out that roughly 90 of those lines were business logic. The remaining 20 or so were the actual programming, so to speak. So it's a Software Development Kit (SDK)?”

“Exactly,” Roe says. “So there's kind of two halves to Norsk. We've been spending most of the time talking about the sort of media half. There's also a management half that will create in-cloud infrastructure for you and sort of get to the business of delivering that infrastructure so you can turn the application into live running events. The focus for much of the discussions has been on the media side. And what we feel very strongly is that you typically live in one of two worlds at the moment. You're using something kind of off the shelf…there's some great off the shelf tools…but your business is then constrained to do what that tool does for you. At the other end of the spectrum, you have basically a roll your own strategy where you go and write a whole bunch of code and you can then deliver whatever media workflow it is that you might want.

“But the latter is an enormous amount of effort,” Roe continues. “Hundreds of thousands of lines of code – very specialist skills. And what we see as being the issue with that strategy is you then end up with hundreds of thousands of lines of code and a few thousand lines of business code. And we think that's the wrong way around. The value that one of our customers can bring to the market is fantastic workflow, here's a great consumer experience, here's information that makes it relevant and creates a sense of community, a sense of engagement amongst my audience, and that's what's important, not how I package up. Web RTC content versus dash content versus something else.”

Siglin uses an analogy to further clarify these approaches. “You have the car parts that you could assemble, but you're a sports broadcaster,” he says. “Do you really need to go into assembling the automobile, versus being the best sports broadcaster that you could be?”

He then asks Roe, “So will this limit the size of the technology teams that are needed inside the organization?”

“Potentially,” Roe says. “I think more [that] it changes the nature of those teams, because at that point you're probably using tools that your teams are already familiar with, sort of highly expressive business-oriented languages. Like TypeScript or Go or Java…so rather than having to deal with the minutia, you're saying, ‘This is how I want things to hang together.’ And really importantly, it's tools that you probably have within your organization anyway to build your website, to build your CRM, and so on. For the very, very biggest companies, I can see sense in a roll your own strategy right from the ground up, it gives you control. But it's an extremely expensive and challenging hobby and it takes a long time. For everybody else, actually being able to get that same value where your team is using standard skills, using tools that they're probably very comfortable with already, can deliver that same value. That's where we see the differentiation with Norsk.”

“And now you've launched 1.0,” Siglin says. “I guess one of the other questions is, as you see SDKs out there in the market, and you think back even to things like Flash…you had Flash evangelists who went out to say, ‘Here's why you do it this way because it's easier than doing it yourself. Will you have to both educate and evangelize the market? Or do you think the market is already educated to the pain, they just need the understanding of how to do it easier?”

“I think there is quite a wide understanding of the pain, not least because the pain is reasonably severe,” Roe says. “I think there are some good analogies for markets I've worked in in the past. So for example, I started my career in retail IT, and back then, in order to be a large scale software provider in retail IT, you had to basically write proprietary databases…the cost of entry into that retail space was extremely high because you had to basically employ people comfortable with building databases.”

Siglin notes, “And like you said, you don't have to have people who understand the similar, lower down. You essentially need somebody who's similar to your website developer with the tool set.”

“Exactly,” Roe says. “And that's the important bit. That's what makes this sports broadcast, it's because they understand the community they're addressing. They create a sense of conversation, they create a sense of community within that. We think that's what's there. And they give you the other thing that I think again speaks to a large extent against ‘roll your own’ is what's important is the capability you have and the user experience…to your clients. Your clients aren't in the least bit interested in whether you use this codec or that or DASH or any of those things. They want a compelling user experience, and the less they see the technology, the better.”

“So one final question,” Siglin says. “I've built this solution simply through the SDK. Now I want to replicate it a thousand times, because I have a thousand events that are very similar, but I also need to make little tweaks on each one of those. How difficult is that process?”

“Well, again, it's straightforward and it kind of speaks to the heart of Norsk, because it's your code,” Roe says. “You have a business rule that says, ‘I need this logo for this thing, so I'm going to go reach out to my asset management system and pull that right one in. So Norsk itself will take care of the, ‘I've got one now, I'd like a thousand and I'd like to go back to one again.’ It makes that process really very simple indeed. But you just described the client's business rule: ‘I need to be able to tailor all of these differently.’ And that's exactly the important code. Go ahead. Write lots and lots of that. Because that's why the value lies.”

Learn more about a wide variety of streaming industry tech and business topics at Streaming Media Connect 2023.

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