How to avoid a streaming own goal

More events are being streamed online from sporting contests to Microsoft's WPC keynotes. Ed Martin from Kemp Technologies explores how to avoid embarrassing and costly ‘black outs’

There was a time when we relied on terrestrial TV for our live entertainment. But today, more and more major sports, music and entertainment events are viewed live online or on-demand, making reliable and high quality video streaming critical to avoid disappointed and angry fans.

During the recent Rugby World Cup, fans in the US had their viewing interrupted when NBC Universal Sports had to switch their pay-per-view customers to its main free-site due to a disruption in service tied to NBC’s infrastructure and Amazon’s AWS cloud-based delivery for live streaming video.

But this isn’t an isolated incident for NBC who also suffered criticism for the delay and glitches in their stream of Super Bowl XLIX.  Elsewhere, service outages were also reported around the massive Mayweather-Pacquiao fight in May, along with the Arsenal vs Chelsea Community Shield football match and the basketball matchup between Wisconsin and Kentucky - the most watched Final Four game in 22 years. Netflix users have also complained about problems accessing the popular video streaming site and millions of people around the world couldn't buy digital music, books or apps for almost 12 hours from the Apple iTunes and App Store back in March.

As online streaming, particularly for millennial and teen audiences, is becoming the primary way to view live events, many new and traditional content providers are adopting some combination of cloud, third-party services and on-premise approach to deliver video. But these have limits when it comes to spikes in customer demand or technical disruption to the service.

But there is another way. Using network virtualisation technology for content and application delivery with SDN (software defined networking) and NFV (network function virtualisation) capabilities can minimise the risk and deliver a reliable customer experience. By intelligently and pro-actively managing the flow of content and applications across an SDN environment of networks and data centres, viewers are guaranteed a consistent quality of experience without disruptive latency or break-up - even when demand surges for the big showcase events.

Traditionally, QoE (Quality of Experience) has been delivered by a static and manually configured approach to manage queues in switches throughout the network. But now there is a dynamic solution to the problem, which directly influences QoE by providing instructions within the network in real time based on changing conditions and application needs. 

New SDN QoE technology integrates network infrastructure level intelligence with application centric load balancing and quality of service controls to prioritise the flow traffic through the SDN network. This means that video streaming disruption can be a thing of the past.

This is good news for resellers looking for some good SDN ROI applications as well as sports and music fans.  And it’s also good news for the likes of NBC who had to give their viewers free access to match and refunded all their pay-per-view customers with a $15 on their $199.99 Rugby World Cup package.


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