With Faultline set to moderate a panel session at next week’s Streaming Media East conference in Boston, we couldn’t resist penning a warm-up for those not attending in-person.
The Streaming Media East session in question is called ‘Delivering Reliable Live Streams at Scale’ – a title so vague that we virtually have free rein on discussion topics.
But we like a challenge, and that’s exactly what we’ve got – as we prepare to sit down on stage with three companies that have never once featured on the pages of Faultline.
These are Bulldog Digital Media (BDM), StackPath, and LiveX. Individually, the three company representatives might be willing to share success stories and warnings to heed from the past two and a half years of doing business during a pandemic.
Collectively, BDM, StackPath and LiveX have the ingredients for a broad-reaching discussion over 45 minutes or so within The Westin Copley Place.
One initial bone of contention is that, on paper, BDM and LiveX appear to be direct competitors. It isn’t often rivals agree to sit down on stage with one another (trust us, we’ve tried), so this could throw up some juicy results, but could just as easily be brushed aside.
Both BDM and LiveX are on the studio side of the live streaming coin, creating, producing and distributing live streams across platforms. BDM has a penchant for interactive experiences that transform viewers into participants, while LiveX boasts its own private 4K broadcast streaming studio located in New York City.
LiveX looks a little different, as the company also provides bonded cellular encoding, satellite downlink and fiber optic video circuits via the LiveX Studio’s Master Control Room.
As production specialists, BDM and LiveX will have been thrust hard and fast into embracing remote production virtually overnight, as the first wave of lockdowns were swept in.
We will endeavor to uncover which technologies were incorporated by each company to survive this dramatic change in doing business, and whether the respective executives see a future in hybrid production, or if the in-person production experience is invaluable?
We may have to interrupt the production party at points, so as not to leave StackPath feeling left out. StackPath takes us into cloud computing, as a provider of edge network locations around the world to bring content and data closer to end users.
Specifically, StackPath places its locations in densely populated markets, condensing dozens of locations at a time within a city’s borders, so that applications and data is ultimately delivered to destinations faster.
Edge computing platforms have liberated the limitations of centralized cloud workloads, to an extent. The maturation of virtualization and containerization within cloud architecture has come on leaps and bounds, yet StackPath’s argument is that the cloud isn’t enough. Traditional cloud providers build server farm empires in rural areas, which isn’t ideal for the most intensive applications, such as online multiplayer gaming.
Latency-sensitive applications are therefore being run on containers and virtual machines on edge devices such as servers, or other computing nodes, to reduce the physical distance between packets.
Here, edge computing processes data at the interface between an end user’s device and the rest of the network by using infrastructure for computation and data storage distributed in or adjacent to these metro areas, where the majority of a streaming content provider’s user base will be located.
StackPath claims computing with 60% less latency, a CDN with 80% cache hit ratio, serverless with zero warm-up time, and a dedicated network backbone between edge locations. Under the hood is EdgeEngine, an orchestration system that merges and manages StackPath infrastructure, products and services as a single automated platform.
Returning to the session title, this is all scale. From the production angle, one might argue that the scale problem comes later in the chain, left to the likes of StackPath.
But BDM is a live streaming platform in itself for social media, as a well as a studio, offering white-labeled embeddable microsites that offer multi-angle and multi-channel live video players, curated social stream features, live polling and trivia widgets, and integration into commerce stores.
LiveX, as an encoding services supplier, will have to know a thing or two about encoding at scale, although this dedicated encoding infrastructure is non-public internet. On the wireless streaming side, LiveX says it provides wireless internet streaming services to places with unreliable internet connections, but doesn’t really detail how, apart from saying it delivers high-quality and reliable live turnkey video.
The idea of this pre-run brief before we arrive in Boston is to hopefully raise more questions than answers – and send them our way if any spring to mind.