Cloud Video Streaming for the Enterprise

By Kurt Zarefoss, Senior Vice President of Engineering, Brightcove

Throughout history, there has been an ongoing evolution in how humans communicate with one another, from cave paintings to hieroglyphs, to the printing press, to the use of video. The internet has democratized the use of video in our everyday lives to educate, inform, engage, entertain and motivate.

Brightcove saw the power of video very early in the internet’s ability to deliver quality video. With few standards, inconsistent bandwidth, and no cloud providers, Brightcove made a name for itself as a premier streaming video provider for the media industry.

Fast forward almost 20 years, and Brightcove is still the leading video streaming provider across the globe. So what has changed? Two major pivots have occurred in the last 20 years. First, technology has shifted to the cloud, and various standards and best practices for video encoding and video delivery have emerged. Second, businesses are increasingly exploiting the power of video to engage customers, partners, vendors, and franchisees, using video to send clear and powerful messages.

When Brightcove moved the core video platform to the cloud, there were two key objectives. First, create an API-first platform, allowing customers to leverage their video services in ways unique to their own needs. Second, use the power of the cloud and its unique elastic nature to provide a scalable video delivery platform that would grow with our customer demand over time.

Several challenges presented when transitioning from a monolithic application to a microservices architecture while migrating from physical data centers to a multi-region cloud deployment. However, it also provided opportunities to change how workloads are managed, how they scale, and where they are located. The process of thinking through these changes took several steps:
1. Identify service boundaries in the context of business capability, unique technical needs,
scalability, and cost
2. Determine our storage requirements not only for the media files themselves but for
databases supporting those services
3. Identify where data caching could be exploited by our services for the faster API response
4. Understand the best practices for high availability and fault tolerance with regard to our
service architecture
5. Prioritize the services that should be multi-region for high performance over those that
don’t require viewer proximity.

The key was to optimize two aspects of the platform. First, ingestion of new content into the platform for playback. And second, playback that presented the viewer with the highest quality first frame of video content in the shortest amount of time possible. When we deploy services across regions as close to the viewer as possible, across multiple zones within those regions, there is no single point of failure, regional latency, or contention at scale. The system routinely supports a thousand years of video delivery daily and live events attended by millions of concurrent viewers.

Using standards and best practices such as containers, load balancers, managed datastore services, memory caching, and other cloud services, Brightcove has created a performant, resilient, and elastic platform for video ingestion, encoding, packaging, management, and delivery.

Our microservices architecture even provides for adding functionality to our outbound streaming services as needed by our customers. This includes protecting content via Digital Rights Management, Geo-Blocking, Watermarking, and even monetization through Client-Side or Server-Side Ad Insertion or subscription or transactional payments.

With a solid platform now running in the cloud, the next step was to empower companies to harness the power of video as a communications medium without the need to understand how video delivery works. Unlike many of our Media customers who leverage our capabilities via our APIs, Enterprise users want simple, easy-to-use products integrated with their existing tool ecosystems, such as marketing automation platforms or digital asset management solutions.

We have crafted offerings in the (Over The Top) OTT and Marketing space. These offerings allow users of all personas to manage video content, publish to various social and media channels and websites, monetize across all major device types and collect viewer analytics on that content to drive customer engagement and business decisions.

The ability to easily use video to engage with an audience of any type, at any scale, in any location is changing how companies communicate and engage with their customers and employees. The power of cloud computing, in concert with the Brightcove video communications platform, is making that possible at scale.