Broadcasting Live from the Cloud
For developers and engineers, system administrators, system architects and technical decision makers focused on cloud computing, the AWS re:Invent user conference is the event to attend each year. Yet with a myriad of sessions on offer, do you choose to learn about How to Scale to Your First 10 Million Users or instead opt for Migrating Media Supply Chains to the Cloud with AWS? Selecting from 250-plus technical breakout sessions, keynotes, and hands-on training opportunities, while also managing workload and downtime, is a challenge.
For those unable to attend the week-long event in Las Vegas, the question becomes how to take advantage of the largest conference focused on cloud computing and AWS infrastructure to gain deeper knowledge and technical expertise to apply to your business operations.
Viocorp is a Sydney, Australia-based enterprise video platform company that helped make the multi-day conference available via live streaming and video-on-demand (VOD) to many more than the 20,000 people who attended AWS re:Invent. Furthermore, three months after the event, the keynote by AWS Senior Vice President Andy Jassy had received over 68,000 views, and the keynote delivered by Amazon CTO Werner Vogels had received more than 58,000 views.
What is even more noteworthy is that streaming video for AWS re:Invent 2015 and AWS Global Summits in both Singapore and New York were delivered using cloud-based workflows. Steve Jones, Head of Live and Production for Viocorp, says the company has increasingly been moving its video processing to the cloud to manage live events as they grow more complex and mission critical. He believes there will always be a place for video processing equipment on-premises, but it is part of Viocorp’s mission to bring the benefits of cloud-based video solutions to enterprise customers.
Demand for video at the enterprise level is accelerating. According to Cisco’s 2015 Visual Networking Index, 65 percent of business internet traffic will be business internet video traffic by 2019, up from 38 percent in 20141. Research by Ramp, a provider of video management and delivery solutions, reports that more than 62 percent of enterprise executives believe external video is important or most important for external communications and 47 percent believe the same when it comes to internal communications.2
Jones reports that Viocorp’s live event production services relied on cloud-based resources around 15 percent of the time for live streaming video in 2015. He estimates this will increase dramatically to 70 percent of the time in 2016 as customers demand more video coverage for more events with an increasing number of capabilities.
With only 50 employees, Viocorp has become a market leader in its region because it has consistently delivered live events like AWS re:Invent without a moment’s failure. According to Jones, “We have had a 100 percent success rate in delivering live streaming productions for the last five years.” He considers this the key differentiator for Viocorp customers.
How does Viocorp use the cloud for video processing to guarantee its customers and their respective audiences the best possible viewing experience with no downtime or loss of service?
- VIOCORP AT A GLANCE
- Headquartered in Sydney, Australia with offices across the country and in Singapore
- Serves over 200 customers, including enterprises in the finance, technology, and professional services industries, and governments
- Market leader that services some of the largest brands in APAC
- Founded in 2002, Viocorp now has 50 employees
Background: Living and Breathing Online Video
Viocorp was founded in 2002 in Sydney, Australia as an early pioneer in online video production and distribution. The company’s cloud-based video platform, Viostream, focuses on the needs of enterprise and government customers to enhance marketing, internal communications and IT efforts with streaming video. Viocorp expanded to offer professional services in support of these efforts, broadcasting live events to a customer’s internal, external and social media audiences. Over the last eight years, these events have evolved from simple productions such as a casual fifteen minute executive broadcast addressing an employee base over lunch, to events as complex as AWS re:Invent – multi-day productions streamed live to multiscreen devices with advanced capabilities such as immediate live-to-VOD and DVR functionality.
In the company’s short history, Viocorp has flawlessly delivered many high profile events in addition to AWS re:Invent including: the Pope’s Easter Mass; the Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting in Perth attended by the Queen of the United Kingdom; Deloitte’s biannual state of the nation CEO address to 50,000 employees across APAC; and since 2010, TEDxSydney. In support of this event for the last six years, Viocorp has live streamed a multitude of presenters in one-day marathons and created archived assets available on-demand.
“Customers don’t want to live stream only the keynote of an event,” says Jones. “They want to live stream every breakout session. They want immediate live-to-VOD availability, they want captions to accommodate accessibility and multiple languages, and they want DVR functionality, so viewers with connected devices can watch something they missed.”
Given what Jones and the Viocorp leadership team see developing in their industry, a continued record of success requires relying even more heavily on highly scalable, secure and reliable cloud-based resources to deliver video.
"Elemental is more of a partner than a provider. The same is true for AWS with CloudFront as our CDN. Our clients often present us with challenges where we need to think outside the box. Working with Elemental and AWS together is a scenario we trust." Steve Jones
Head of Live and Production, Viocorp
Challenge: Scaling to Global Reach
Jones and his team faced two major challenges in achieving business objectives: scaling the number of live productions they manage simultaneously and increasing global reach. Viocorp’s Singapore office has fielded more and more international customer requests to deliver live event production. Rather than investing in more video processing hardware, Viocorp elected to move video processing and delivery components to the cloud, specifically Elemental Cloud, so it can spin up regional deployments and best meet customer demand.
As feature requests grew, the Viocorp team realized they needed a video infrastructure capable of high-density encoding. “When we first started live streaming,” says Jones, “we were able to deliver a single Windows media stream. With smart phones, tablets, IPTVs – the full range of devices – we know we may need to output between twelve to eighteen bitrates to be viewable by every single device. CPU encoders were not able to meet those demands.”
Variability is an inherent risk in producing a streaming live event. Because each event is unique, Viocorp creates a temporary video workflow to best meet the specific needs of the customer and the event’s requirements while considering location details that range from power supplies to internet availability to on-site bandwidth to physical space. Video processing increasingly became part of the equation in tailoring a workflow to event requirements.
Solution: Resiliency at Every Stage of the Workflow
The resiliency of Elemental solutions is key for Viocorp. Its video workflows include redundancy at every stage of an event from production to delivery. On-premises, Viocorp works to make sure everything is redundant: video camera feeds, uninterrupted power supplies, internet connections, and two active Elemental Live encoders to ensure a high-quality RTMP or MPEG-TS contribution into the cloud.
Using Elemental Cloud, Viocorp again relies on Elemental Live encoding services that receive RTMP/MPEG-TS contribution source from on-premises units. Cloud-based encoders output adaptive bitrate (ABR) streams to a redundant Elemental Delta origin server that provides just-in-time video packaging in response to Content Delivery Network (CDN) requests. As live streaming content transitions from on-premises to the cloud, and from cloud-based Elemental Live encoders to the Elemental Delta origin, redundant design provides Viocorp, and its customers, with a fully resilient workflow that brings peace of mind.
Elemental Cloud enables Viocorp to create workflows with virtual resources that only incur costs when used, automatically provision and dynamically scale resources, and quickly create broadcast quality multiscreen offerings.
“We were hesitant to use Elemental Cloud at first,” says Jones. “But we knew we needed an easier way to deliver events to audiences in the United Kingdom, the United States and Singapore. The switch to live cloud encoding was easy. The Elemental Live user interface is the same whether operating on-premises equipment or performing video processing in the cloud. Elemental has become more of a partner than a provider,” says Jones.
"The switch to live cloud encoding was easy. The Elemental Live user interface is the same whether operating on-premises equipment or performing video processing in the cloud." Steve Jones
Head of Live and Production, Viocorp
Viocorp Workflow for AWS re:Invent
As mobile video increasingly drives mobile data traffic, as video industry innovations continue, as customers demand more content, and as new devices come onto the market – some of which we cannot yet imagine – companies in the video ecosystem will have to be nimble. For Viocorp, with a perfect record delivering successful live streaming events to a full range of customers, this means working with partners it trusts. Software-defined video solutions from Elemental allow Viocorp to scale globally and grow to support increasingly complex events that leverage the elasticity and scalability of cloud-based resources.
With Elemental Cloud, Viocorp can dynamically scale resources to process and deliver broadcast quality video while offering its customers cost-effective resiliency that translates into peace of mind. CXOs can take the stage to deliver keynotes to audiences participating both live, and later via VOD, using multiscreen devices around the world. This is key as live production events such as AWS conferences and TEDxSydney increasingly represent enterprise best practices.
The inherent agility that comes with software-defined video solutions gives Viocorp an advantage moving forward. “By using the cloud, we have future-proofed our operations,” says Jones. “There is a team of Elemental engineers working on solutions to support industry innovations such as high efficiency video coding (HEVC/H.265) compression, and the ability to stream to whatever new devices come next. With Elemental, we know we are ready.”