Cloud, On-Premises, or Hybrid: Which Video Deployment Model Is Right for You? (Update)

You wouldn’t buy your next car without first asking yourself what you need, what you’d like, and what you can afford. You’d also likely ask yourself what you’re hoping to accomplish with a car long-term. Might you need to drive it every day at some point? Will you be needing room for kids down the line?

Why wouldn’t you do the same when looking to start streaming?

Whether you are new to video streaming or trying to revamp your streaming infrastructure, it’s time to take stock of your needs and find out what video deployment model best suits them.


Introducing Hybrid Video Deployment Models

The first time we wrote this article, we focused on on-premises and cloud-based video deployment models. The following decision tree reflects that. Certainly, choosing one or the other could be your best path forward. However, we’ve since begun exploring hybrid video deployment, combining the benefits of on-premises and cloud-based streaming to meet more nuanced needs.

In this article, we’ll walk you through the questions in our decision tree, why they are important, and how your answers to them will help inform which of these THREE options is the one for you.

A decision tree for weighing the options between cloud vs. on-premises video deployment models

Decision Tree Walkthrough: Choosing a Video Deployment Model

You might not know the answers to all these questions and that’s A-OK. If you’d rather speak with a streaming expert that can help you better analyze your needs, reach out to a member of our team.


Do You Prefer to Keep Your Video Streaming Infrastructure in House?

In other words, do you want to own and have manual control over the servers that transcode and stream your video data? And do you want to have full control over every aspect of your workflow?

We often see this as the preferred choice for enterprises, government, or surveillance organizations deploying video across a large private network. It makes sense in many of these cases to want that level of control and to be able to store and manage data in a more secure setting.

But because an on-premises video deployment model gives you full control over your workflow, you’ll also be responsible for managing every level of your technology stack. Cloud deployment, on the other hand, allows you to offload some management duties and maintenance costs to the service provider. Owning servers can be expensive too, as you need to maintain and run them yourself. They can also make scaling to larger audiences difficult unless you invest in access to a content delivery network (CDN).

Ask yourself WHY you want to keep the infrastructure in house and if doing so will inhibit your long-term video streaming plans. Also remember that today’s cloud-based video platforms come with robust security controls like digital rights management (DRM), token authorization, geofencing, IP whitelisting, and steam-level encryption. For that reason, cloud-based deployment is still a highly secure option — especially when powered by a SOC 2-compliant provider like Wowza.


Are You Able to Integrate Multiple Vendors to Satisfy Your Video Streaming Needs?

Let’s say you really want to keep things in-house. After all, an on-premises solution like Wowza Streaming Engine is highly customizable, offering you a greater deal of technical control.

However, the all-in-one Wowza Video cloud-based platform packages several “services” up in one tidy solution. So, staying on-prem might mean finding individual vendors to help with various stages in your workflow, from video encoding and DRM through CDN-enabled delivery.

It’s possible you don’t need all that. If you do, you’ll need to locate vendors on your own to satisfy those needs. This is one case where you don’t want to just think about the immediate demand, but also explore your long-term needs.

This is also one place where the benefits of hybrid really shine. Wowza’s new hybrid cloud offering combines the Wowza Streaming Engine media server software with many of the Wowza Video amenities, like CDN access, video analytics, and more.


Is Scalability a Concern?

Scalability refers to your streaming infrastructure’s ability to handle larger audiences, often across greater distances. Many factors affect scalability, from high-density transcoding to adaptive bitrate streaming (ABR). However, CDNs are likely the most impactful when it comes to handling large audiences. These server networks make it significantly easier to process and delivery data to a larger viewership.

Honestly, we could easily have asked this question before the last one. If you are married to an on-premises solution and don’t care about scaling, then you’re likely in good shape. That said, you never know what the future holds. If expanding your audience is in any way part of your long-term plan, it will be astronomically easier to design your workflow around that now for seamless scaling later.

After all, audience growth challenges are not the sole responsibility of your marketing team. You need to have the technology in place to capture audience surges when they happen. An ill-prepared workflow leads to poor stream quality, dropped streams, and unhappy viewers.


Do You Prefer a Solution That Gets Up and Running Quickly?

Who doesn’t prefer a solution that gets up and running quickly? The real question is do you NEED one that will hit the ground running or is it just nice to have?

The simple answer is that Wowza Video is an easy-to-start and easy-to-scale out of the box solution. If you need to stream tomorrow, or even later today, Wowza Video is your best bet. That said, Wowza Streaming Engine offers a degree of control and builder-friendly customization beyond that of Wowza Video. So it really comes down to cost versus reward. How important is speed to you, and what is it worth sacrificing?

Hybrid doesn’t really have a horse in this race. It still requires configuring the Wowza Streaming Engine software. So if you are looking for a truly immediate solution, then you really only have one choice.


Would You Benefit from Holistic Visibility Across the Entire Workflow?

In other words, versatile cloud-based platforms like Wowza Video tend to have an easier time showing you the full end-to-end picture through robust analytics. This is one benefit of having everything packaged together. Those using Wowza Streaming Engine, or a similar media server software are likely doing so as part of a larger solution that’s been custom built from disparate parts or vendors, making an overall view far more difficult to achieve.

This is one place where hybrid really shines. It’s still not as elegantly simple a solution as just using Wowza Video. However, it can give you greater access to streaming analytics than straight Wowza Streaming Engine would. It’s a solid option for those that want insights alongside greater control.

Have your cake and eat it to with an on-premises and cloud hybrid streaming solution.


Is On-Premises or Offline Video Deployment Critical to Your Use Case?

Think company training videos only accessible through your intranet or closed-circuit video surveillance systems. If you fall into these categories, you likely want an on-premises solution. Less so if your use case requires public discoverability and the potential for audience growth.

But what if you want a little of both? What if you are looking to host closed conferences over the cloud? DO you need on-premises only?


Video Deployment Models: A Recap

Wowza’s suite of solutions covers every need that could arise from real-time interactive streaming to multi-camera feed video surveillance systems. Our customer use cases include healthcare, law enforcement, sports streaming, eCommerce, manufacturing, higher education, and so much more. No matter your video requirements might be, Wowza has got you covered.

  • Integrated Cloud-Based Video Platform: Wowza Video integrates all the core streaming technologies your business requires into a single platform, making it an ideal solution for organizations looking to enhance their products and services with video.
  • On-Premises Streaming Server Software: Wowza Streaming Engine comes with robust and fully customizable features that make it optimal for self-managed infrastructures and offline deployment
  • Hybrid Streaming Solution: Wowza’s hybrid solution combines the builder-friendly customization and highly secure Wowza Streaming Engine media server software with many of the amenities offered by Wowza Video, including access to our CDN, analytics tools, and best-in-class media player.
hybrid video deployment model

Expert Advice for Expert Solutions

Let’s face it. A decision tree like this can help guide you to the right questions, but you still need to know how to answer them. And often one question can inspire a dozen more.

Our advice? Treat this guide like a checklist. Brainstorm your needs. Then reach out for expert advice to address any confusions you have and help guide you to a video deployment model that will help you realize your goals.

Start by talking with one of our video streaming experts!


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About Sydney Roy (Whalen)

Sydney works for Wowza as a content writer and Marketing Communications Specialist, leveraging roughly a decade of experience in copywriting, technical writing, and content development. When observed in the wild, she can be found gaming, reading, hiking, parenting, overspending at the Renaissance Festival, and leaving coffee cups around the house.