Streaming Media Trickles into the Enterprise - Page 5
Avoiding Bandwidth Snares
Many analysts view streaming media as much more feasible in enterprise deployments than on public-facing Internet sites, because administrators have greater control over distribution, storage, and playback mechanisms.
Still, though, the bursty nature of streaming media dictates careful bandwidth planning. Bandwidth distribution plans should consider the nature of the content, as well as total audience size, numbers of simultaneous viewers, and other enterprise apps that might be contending for bandwidth, experts say.
Tools from companies like Packeteer, Radiance, and Bandwiz are doing much to ease congestion on enterprise networks, according to some analysts. Aberdeen's Hoch points to a number of tools for managed delivery that feature automated policies for bandwidth usage and delivery scheduling, for instance.
Packeteer sells its PacketShaper software in separate Enterprise and ISP editions. Moreover, beyond its previous uses with streaming media, PacketShaper is now being used to help manage videoconferencing-over-IP through a recently unveiled deal between Packeteer and Polycom.
Bandwiz's DistributeIt comes with built-in algorithms for determining the most efficient delivery methods, according to Sapir. Administrators can schedule content for off-peak delivery if they want. Under DistributeIt's grid-based delivery system, content is delivered to only one machine per site. The content is then mirrored on the server for sharing among all end users attached to the LAN.
Also Needed -- Better Reporting and SLAs
At the same time, content management or digital asset management systems are becoming widely available for enterprise implementations. "Many of these systems, though, lack really good reporting tools," contends Rayburn.
Asset management can be augmented with reporting from products like WebTrends or MediaReports. WebTrends' reports can tell you how long it's taking for your streaming media to start, users' average viewing and connection speeds, and the relative popularity of various media streams, for instance.
Meanwhile, vendors like Keynote produce service level agreement (SLA) reporting tools and services for third-party hosters and their customers.
"The attitude of too many hosters today, though, is still, 'Let's make this SLA agreement as confusing as we can," according to Rayburn.
Streaming media deployments are hardly for the faint of heart. Like it or not, though, video Webcasts are trickling their way toward your organization. Especially if you're looking at more than a departmental implementation, your best bet is to team up with the right kind of systems integrator, to help you decide which aspects of streaming media -- if any -- should be left to third parties.