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How Edge Computing Will Revolutionize Live Video Streaming

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The demand for video is at an all-time high. The emergence of the internet, low-cost computing, and digital video devices mean that today, there is 1000x more high-quality video produced and distributed by non-broadcasters than in the entire TV and film industry. According to Cisco, video now accounts for 80% of all global internet traffic, with live video accounting for 13.2%, increasing from 3.3% in 2016.

What Is Edge Computing in Live Video Streaming?

Edge computing for live video streaming enables a host of flexible and reliable cloud computing functions to be brought to the point where video is created. It gives media organizations the ability to deploy an at-scale platform that can do anything it’s programmed to do based on its available processing power, storage, and software applications instead of having a fixed device that does just one video processing task. Placing this capability as close to the video source as possible simplifies live video workflows, reduces latency, enables faster deployment of standardized protocols across networks of devices, and eliminates unnecessary operational costs.

Importantly, edge computing empowers live video broadcasters and content creators to continue innovating and building the functions and capabilities they need to create customized live video workflows. Rather than dictating how they should operate, edge computing is an innovation-enabler that helps media companies shape their present and future.

What’s the Problem with Existing Video Workflows?

With the large volume of video already flowing around the internet and across private networks, it’s fair to question why things need to change. But there are four fundamental issues with video-based use cases in the broadcast sector: The reliability of equipment, its ability to adapt and be flexible to all the varied use cases, the ongoing complexity of device orchestration, and cost efficiencies of delivering large-scale media services.

As a way of overcoming some of these issues, end-users and managed media services providers (MMSPs) have turned to cloud-based services to mitigate some of the limitations imposed by the entire gamut of low-end consumer encoders to high-end and expensive broadcast-centric devices. The cloud acts as an intermediary step to processing video streams and distributing them to their destination. This workflow has many benefits, including allowing less powerful equipment on-site, but it does not solve the reliability or manageability challenges of on-site encoders. This is where bringing many of the cloud computing benefits to the edge--i.e., to the source of live video--offers an alternative.

Giving Content Owners the Tools and Flexibility They Require

An edge computing platform for live video has the processing power to run locally many of the video processing tasks that augment cloud functionality. For example, sports leagues and broadcasters can use edge computing capabilities to get more feeds into their production workflows without having to spend huge amounts on additional encoding equipment while also decreasing operational costs. Using edge computing at the point of video origination in concert with cloud computing allows for optimization of the video workflow. It enables lower latency, reduced cloud costs, increased reliability, and improved quality resulting from needing to encode only once vs. twice with the traditional encoder or cloud workflow. By doing more at the edge rather than in the cloud, certain video use cases can reduce OPEX costs by as much as 50% and latency from tens of seconds to under 200ms.

But edge computing for live video is not a binary choice between edge or cloud. There are use cases where it can be deployed to complement cloud workflows by making the journey of video more reliable, efficient, faster, and ultimately better. Taking a hybrid approach by using an edge computing platform to augment the cloud gives end-users, developers, and media companies the freedom and flexibility they require.

Revolutionizing Live Video

The flexibility of edge computing reduces costs and complexity while improving reliability and scale to unlock new potential. Content owners have a powerful set of functions in their hands that enable them to create the workflows that make the most sense for them. Most importantly, edge computing at the point of video origin allows industry players to continue innovating and pushing the boundaries of what's possible in live video streaming.

[Editor's note: This is a contributed article from Videon. Streaming Media accepts vendor bylines based solely on their value to our readers.]

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