Emergence of Video Internet

It used to serve all text and now it serves streaming rich content. YouTube is streaming 6 billion hours of video each month. Netflix has 40 million paying streaming video subscribers, about 30 million of which are in the US. A typical non-streamer consumes about 4.5 GB a month vs 212 GB that a typical streamer consumes.And a whopping 72% out of that (about 100 hours of videos a month) constitutes streaming content which is about 11 times higher than the content a typical user consumes!

Connected devices, smart phones, smart TVs, tablets, set-top-boxes are converging for daily communication needs at homes and at workplaces. It’s the streaming apps that are leading the highest consumption of internet bandwidth today.

YouTube, Netflix and Twitch.tv lead the chart on data downstream whereas Facebook and interestingly Snapchat (and not WhatsApp) lead the chart for upstream traffic usage. Live, WebEx, Go-to-meeting are not behind in the enterprise space. Clearly user facing apps are on the surge with every phone device estimated to run at least 20 handheld apps. The browsers are adapting to support newer standards such as HTML5 and WebRTC. Applications are adapting to focus on API integrate-able apps that leverage the cloud.

So what does it mean for technological challenges?

The WebRTC is commoditizing streaming media distribution over standard HTTP protocol and the collaboration experience is simpler to implement or consume than ever before. However, the streaming media intelligence lies mainly in the formulation of media packets, sizing, encoding, and mixing them while serving and ensuring dynamic bandwidth considerations are taken into account. It also lies in the ability to pierce through stored media so you can look through the content and reach the content of interest with quick and easy text searching meta-data that comprises the media bundle. With the attention of internet users dwindling rapidly, if the media platform is able to create content that can be kapsuled, indexed and bookmarked, then it is of immense benefit, with a high likelihood that users will consume it. With a mobile work-force, remote work is dominant at workplaces. Recording of live capture and replay on demand is crucial from geographic sharing and regulatory compliance reasons.

Secondly, for building high quality video streamer applications many important considerations come into play. Emphasis on the right ones will be based on end-use scenario and also on concurrent creation or consumption scenario. The important considerations that drive streaming solution architecture include:

  • Live video vs. VOD
  • Solving the video distribution challenges (via CDN routing)
  • Approaches to effective streaming (e.g. efficient progressive streaming)
  • Monitoring streaming applications and media servers
  • Optimizations for quickly recovering from network congestion and packet loss
  • Persistent connections – to minimize the number of round trips
  • On-the-fly compression techniques
  • Providing full support for a collaborative experience
  • Enabling an ad hoc peer-to-peer sharing experience
  • Analyzing the consumption patterns and providing hooks for adapting streaming services to user needs
  • Social vs. enterprise experience creation

Clearly there are a slew of domain specific considerations when building streaming solution. Most enterprises are geographically dispersed. Their work functions rely heavily upon effective information architecture and video-on-demand will be their dominant need. Rapidly emerging streaming technologies and connected-ness will drive applications to leverage the high speed internet to create, store and disseminate content/ information creatively for anyone, anywhere, anytime.

Mobile networks now represent about 50 percent video traffic. Content personalization, content search distribution is managed via preferences and type of networks (WAN vs Wi-FI) and content is loaded based on the best available high-speed networks. Most certainly this calls for building communication technologies that support the future needs of effective presence and serve users on the move well.