HTML5-Based, Flash-Free Multicast Streaming for Enterprises
Ramp, a leading provider of next-generation video management and delivery solutions, recently announced an end-to-end platform that enables Flash-free content distribution on corporate networks, via HTML5. This solution, powered by Wowza technology, enables a more efficient distribution of streaming video in the enterprise.
At NAB2016, Wowza’s Chris Cross and Ramp’s VP of product and operations Stephen Blankenship met up to discuss the recent Ramp announcement. View the video now:
After NAB, I also was able to connect with Stephen Blankenship to discuss why this new HTML5-based solution is so important to the enterprise market and how it impacts the streaming industry. Check out the interview below.
Interviewer—Lynn Green (LG): When looking at the enterprise space, what gap did you see in webcasting? How does this new solution fill that gap?
Stephen Blankenship (SB): For the better part of a decade now, enterprises that wanted to utilize multicast for broadcasting high-quality video had only two technology choices: Microsoft via Windows Media Services and Silverlight, or streaming based on Adobe Flash Player. The lack of competitive solutions for the enterprise always seemed odd to me, but the historic dominance of Microsoft and Adobe Flash created an environment where everyone felt comfortable with just two baskets for all their streaming eggs. Over the past 18 months, the status quo has been upset as technology has evolved and security threats have appeared. Some of the most prominent changes have been the end-of-life announcement for all of the proprietary Microsoft solutions and the broad-based security threat vectors that have emerged against Flash. This has culminated in an uncomfortable situation for enterprises, which no longer have a solution for multicast that is both vendor-supported and maintained by progressive security updates.
Now we’re seeing organizations trying to “keep the wheels on” while they consider their alternatives. In some cases, organizations are looking at abandoning their investment in multicast altogether and trying to implement heavy-handed P2P solutions. We’re also seeing enterprises so desperate for a viable solution, they are attempting to roll their own code for secure multicasting. So, yes, there is a huge gap in enterprise webcasting.
Ramp had already been solving lower-level issues with multicast for enterprises with our Multicast+ network overlay product, such as addressing wireless and WAN reliability issues. We realized that by enhancing that capability to exclude Flash altogether, along with a standards-based pure HTML5 approach, we could offer state-of-the-art, secure streaming technology on modern browsers and platforms that have no support issues going forward.
(LG): Why HTML5 multicast video? What does that mean to the industry?
(SB): One very positive trend over the past couple of years, which has accelerated in the past six months, is the way many important industry players have coalesced around standardization of video streaming technology. To be sure, there are still technology silos and competing agendas out there, but right now there is more agreement and cooperation across all the IP video technologies than I have seen in the past decade. HTML5 has played a big role in the standards discussion, and the announcement of the end of HTML5 support for legacy, non-conforming platforms will serve to accelerate its adoption going forward.
For enterprise adopters, standards like HTML5 mean less worry about betting on the wrong technologies. For content producers, as we have seen whenever standardization emerges, the industry will see much greater adoption and more focus on the quality of the content. So will there be a better user experience? Yes, because there will be more focus on generating great content that enhances the consumer experience, instead of sorting out the underlying technology. At Ramp, we believe strongly that enabling streaming video to work reliably over enterprise multicast networks, and especially over wireless networks, will enable corporate video adoption to approach the levels we currently see with home OTT adoption.
(LG): When looking to create this new solution, what challenges did you face?
(SB): Great question! A couple challenges come to mind right away. Our most important challenge is getting the word out to organizations that help is on the way, and you don’t need to rethink everything or abandon your multicast infrastructure. So thank you for helping us share that message with Wowza’s customers and friends.
The second challenge was building a solution that works with as many stream sources as possible, knowing that by focusing on a very controlled set of stream variables, we could increase the reliability and quality of the video. So those two technical objectives were directly at odds, and in the end we had to balance them in our solution.
(LG): How did Wowza technology help you achieve your goals and overcome challenges?
(SB): We needed a reliable, normalized stream sourced from virtually any device imaginable. It took about two seconds for us to decide which company would be the best in the world for providing this capability. Wowza Streaming Engine has been solving this type of problem (and actually much more complicated problems) for thousands of organizations across the globe for years. Having worked with your team on other products, we knew how easy this would be from a business-relationship standpoint and, again, the technology has always been rock-solid.
(LG): What’s next for Ramp?
(SB): Right now, we’re getting the word out and expanding the number of video-streaming platforms our eCDN is certified to handle. In the same way that pervasive HTML5 will drive adoption and ultimately ROI for enterprises, our solutions for delivering content over enterprise networks—Multicast+ and OmniCache—will free content producers and consumers to realize the full potential of the media without technical limitations so that they can produce and share content that was previously unattainable.
(LG): What’s next for enterprise webcasting?
(SB): Standardization and simplification. Looking at industry trends, all signs are pointing in those directions, although we have a way to go.
(LG): Lastly, if someone is interested in the AltitudeCDN Multicast+ solution from Ramp, what should they do?
(SB): Visit the Ramp website to learn more about our solution, which combines Ramp AltitudeCDN Multicast+ with Wowza Streaming Engine. From the website, you can get in touch with us directly to sign up for a webinar or talk with our team.
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