Bandwidth on the Run

RAM: Bandwidth on the Run

Increased demand for video in all its forms is hogging the pipes

Now that we're in the digital age, Internet traffic volumes are giving way to traffic jams that can bring business operations to a grinding halt. The primary driver is the explosion of Internet video. Its exponentially larger file sizes and bandwidth requirements strain the infrastructure, challenging organizations to meet the ever-growing demand. And more is added daily at a rate of 33 minutes of video per second.

During the tech bubble, bandwidth was abundant and there was excess capacity. What changed? Quite simply, it was the explosion in video. According to the u.s. Internet Industry Association, video consumes nearly 80 percent of all bandwidth. And that number continues to rise.

On the upside, video captures our attention in ways that static pages can't. The downside is video files are exponentially larger than text documents. Even a graphics-intensive word processing document is unlikely to be more than 5 MB. A 90-second video can eat up 150 MB of storage and 13.3 Mbps of bandwidth. The drive toward high-definition video will push that number even higher. Add in the problems associated with multiple copies in multiple locations, multiple versions, multiple backups, etc., and it's easy to see a crisis brewing.

Complicating the situation are issues involving video management. Multiple copies of a file in multiple locations use even more storage. It also makes version control nearly impossible, since someone has to remember each file's location and update or renew it when a new one becomes available or when it expires.

Potholes and Roadblocks
This increased demand creates four issues that require more efficiency in managing video content:
-Supply and demand.
Every video file opened places a demand on bandwidth. For example, a 150 mb 90-second video requires there be enough bandwidth not only to push 150 MB through, but to do so in 90 seconds. Otherwise the viewer will experience pauses and stuttered playback. Delivering 150 mb in 90 seconds equates to a bit rate of 13.3. If 10 people watch a file simultaneously, you'll need an Internet pipe that can handle 133 Mbps.
-Moving video files from one user to another.
Most email mailboxes and file-sharing systems have limits on the size of files they can move and store. They are not equipped to meet the requirements of even simple videos, making it difficult to share or upload files.
-Multiple copies, multiple locations.
As video is made available to customers on the Web, each copy increases the amount of storage required.
-Lack of "search" ability.
Video files are often stored on a network using office-document based filing systems - with a separation between video for internal and external use. It may work now, but the proliferation of video will require a metadata-based search function that doesn't yet exist.

DAM the Gridlock
To reduce the congestion of these massive video files, a "public transit system" is needed. That system is available in the form of digital asset management (DAM). DAM facilitates the creation, management and distribution of digital assets, including images, graphics, logos, presentations, pages, documents, animations and audio and video clips. Digital files become valuable assets through the attachment of metadata (information about content). Metadata elevates video content into assets because it can be indexed, versioned, secured, stored and assigned a lifecycle state, a unique id and an owner. When metadata is applied to video files, DAM provides several benefits, including:
-Rerouting traffic.
Rather than creating separate files for each Web location, all consumers of that content watch it from the same source, even though it may be seen from thousands of Web pages. Embedding code in the page, rather than transferring the file and providing it from a server, greatly reduces storage requirements and makes it easier to update the video.
-Getting there. A challenge with video is getting the enormous file from the source server to other locations. With DAM, all viewers are sent to one location to see the file. Rather than sending the entire file, the code required to post the video pointer travels through email or is downloaded from the Internet.
-Greater viewing control. An ongoing challenge is version control. With printed materials, creating a master control point for printed materials is simple since materials are usually stored and reviewed before being sent out. This prevents disseminating expired materials. But video is typically loaded on a site and then served on-demand - sometimes past its expiration. DAM creates a master control point for video, ensuring that when an update occurs, all users see the most current content.
-Streamlines organization.
DAM creates a system around files so anyone can locate what they need. Each file has data and metadata around it describing the contents, available formats and other information. Additionally, new file formats can be added as another way of using the file. The data provides an effective means to search for files and distinguish between the organization's various assets.
-Simplifies backup.
All digital assets, including video, require backup and safe storage. Core video files in multiple formats require individual backup, increasing storage needs. With dam, single files can be backed up, then used to create and deliver the rest, significantly reducing storage requirements.

The question becomes how best to use DAM? While an organization can add DAM software internally and manage files over its network, it's almost self-defeating. it will have to beef up available storage with marketing being limited in responding to market needs by how quickly IT can fulfill requests - and extra video traffic will quickly consume corporate bandwidth.

A better option is to leverage DAM through a Software-as-a-Service (SaaS) provider. This allows the organization to offload file management - and provides the infrastructure to deliver those files. It also provides a separate channel for outside parties to access video, preserving corporate bandwidth.

It really comes down to responsiveness and scalability. When DAM is achieved through a SaaS provider, marketing can go directly to that provider to make changes or updates. In terms of scalability, internally, storage and bandwidth usually are purchased as needed. A SaaS provider's main business is having ample storage and bandwidth available on demand. There's never a question of when the file can go live.

2 comments about "Bandwidth on the Run".
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  1. Jeff Einstein from The Brothers Einstein, November 4, 2009 at 10:47 a.m.

    Broadband always was and always will be all about TV, plain and simple. The secret to commercial success for any medium resides in our ability to convert our insatiable appetite for temporary distraction into revenue. The real winners in online video, therefore, will not be those -- like Hulu -- who look to import traditional long-format TV from offline to online. The real winners will be those who successfully traffic in short-format video snacks as the only way to accommodate and exploit what is already the Web's most ubiquitous consumer behavior: video snacking.

  2. Jonathan Mirow from BroadbandVideo, Inc., November 4, 2009 at 3:46 p.m.

    Video snacking? Why does this remind of early "internet wisdom" that everything had to be re-written into three paragraphs otherwise you'd lose viewers. I watched a feature length movie on Fancast the other day - I guess that would be video gorging. "Snacking" is for skateboard crotch-hit video, real monetizable content can take a bit longer.

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