Velocity Session about Distributing Video to Scale

Delivering Video at Scale

Simon Frost (Veenoct Ltd)
3:50pm Wednesday, 06/23/2010
Operations Ballroom CD
According to current estimates video now accounts for 25% of online traffic, and this is set to grow. With 1 in 12 people in the UK viewing long-form content on BBC iPlayer and 1 in 7 in the USA on Hulu, it’s rapidly becoming a mainstream proposition.

Users have years of experience with more mature media which have established expectations of what a video experience should be: immediate and low latency with no buffering or delays.

But the internet was not designed for the demands of video traffic so it can be difficult to deliver the quality of experience expected. Scaling and performance problems can occur with relatively low numbers of users and the solutions required are different from those normally encountered by web professionals. Standards and technologies are still developing which can make it difficult to choose the right platform. However, making the right choice is vital in order to bring a service to market and keep it there.

This talk is for anyone who’s planning on introducing a video service on their site and would like to know their options, or those with current issues who’d like to learn what techniques will help them.

The subtopics the talk will cover are:

  • User’s desired experience of video on the net and the problems of delivering it
  • Methods of delivering video from download to streaming to P2P, and how to select the right one
  • Using CDNs and delivery platforms
  • Streaming video options and how to scale a user’s experience: which compromises do users find more or less acceptable?
  • Future developments and the role of HTTP
  • The talk will introduce the trade-offs that must be made to reach the desired user experience aims, and what to look for if choosing CDNs or white label platforms.

Simon Frost has been a techie working with the web for so long that people used to say he should get a proper job as this internet thing was never going to amount to anything. Now those same people are users who come to him with feature requests as he’s currently Technical Architect on BBC iPlayer, one of the most popular video sites in the UK.

Notes About Sessions

  • Quick note: 4 out of 5 users leave if video stream buffers just once.
  • Users will watch longer if the quality is good.
    • Average viewing is 20 to 30 minutes per stream
  • Users view video online as “TV on the Web”

Why do we have buffer problems?

  • Internet was not not designed for video
    • Bandwidth issues that do not exist on Broadband

How Do We Solve the Problems

  • Need to be realistic
    • Need to consider using a CDN
  • Be clever with bandwidth
    • What is digital video?
      • Codecs (Compress and Uncompressing…H.264, VP6/8 and Windows Media)
      • Transcoding (convert from one formt to another)…cpu intensive
      • Bitrate (higher offer higher quality…optimize for frame size…Constant BitRate vs Variable BitRate)
        • CBR vs. VBR
  • Reduce latency
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