For online cinemas, video hosting and media platforms, the main thing is not to fall at the most crucial moment. Failures occur even for major players during the broadcast of popular events or the release of expected new products . Let’s figure out what technologies will help video services not be afraid of failures and drops in speed, and how to organize streaming at the lowest cost and risk.
In the first half of 2021, the Russian market of legal video services grew by 40%, according to TMT Consulting. And Deloitte experts found that 56% of people are ready to give up going to the cinema or theater if the same content can be watched online. 81% of users regularly watch videos on various Internet sites.
The IT team of a video service has a great responsibility: the continuity and high speed of broadcasting become decisive factors for the monetization of the service. The number of users directly depends on whether the resource can provide comfortable video viewing.
There are three main technical problems that video services face.
Problem number 1 is the unstable speed of downloading and broadcasting videos. 6% of viewers close the page if the playback does not start within two seconds. A delay of 5 seconds results in the loss of a quarter of the audience. Half of the users will leave within the first 10 seconds.
Problem number 2 – failures during peak loads. Some of them can be predicted and prepared. For example, to the release of expected films or the broadcast of popular events. But loads can be completely unpredictable – you should always be ready for them.
Problem number 3 – you need a large staff of IT specialists. At the same time, they have specialized tasks – the development of basic and additional functions of the service, a recommender system or a platform for automating the development and project management. In addition, they have to provide and maintain infrastructure, ranging from connecting hardware and replacing obsolete equipment to maintaining virtualization environments. Routine administrative tasks distract from the primary tasks or require the involvement of individual specialists to maintain the infrastructure.
4 Ways to Solve Streaming Problems
Many successful streaming services choose the cloud path of development. For example, Netflix has been using the cloud for video distribution for many years and stores its data in S3 cloud object storage. This helps the company, like other large video hosting companies, not to worry about the technical side of the services. Let’s see what are the reasons for the key problems of streaming – slowdowns, failures and swelling of the IT staff. And let’s try to solve them.
Reason 1: Slow storage
In the streaming business, it must be able to distribute a large amount of video content to a large number of users. Traditional (file) storage is organized like a directory, so it can fail due to a large number of requests. An almost unlimited amount of content can be stored in object storage. Users access the files they need directly, so there are no delays regardless of the number of accesses.
For streaming, cloud S3 is more suitable – reliable storage with the ability to scale flexibly and quickly increase capacity.
Reason 2. Transcoding errors
People use different devices. 67% of users access the Internet using a smartphone, 51% use computers and a laptop, 17% use tablets, 15% use Smart TV. Today it is important that the viewer can watch the video where it is convenient for him. At the same time, 41% of streaming services cite the ability to adapt video for different devices as one of the main problems they face.
Significant computing resources are required to organize transcoding. They are easy to get in the cloud – for any period and in the volume that will be optimal for transcoding at the desired speed. To significantly speed up this process, you can use cloud computing based on high-performance GPU processors.
Reason 3. Geographical remoteness
To quickly download videos from anywhere in the world, reliable and productive storage is not enough. Latency is affected by the distance from the user to the server where the content is stored. The greater the distance, the greater the delay.
Latency can be reduced by using a CDN (Content Delivery Network). This is a network of caching servers, “scattered” around the world. Users of regions remote from the main server receive information from the caching CDN server closest to them. This organization of content delivery allows you to reduce the delay due to the geographical factor, as well as maintain resistance to a huge number of requests.
Building your own turnkey CDN is an expensive and non-trivial task from a technical point of view. Not every new media hosting is expedient and cost-effective to do this.
Any streaming service can get a CDN as a ready-made service in the cloud. For example, the VK Cloud Solutions cloud platform has a content delivery network already integrated with object storage and can be connected in a couple of clicks.
Reason 4. Weak infrastructure
With the development of the project, the load increases, the own infrastructure can no longer cope. It needs to be constantly expanded. When building infrastructure, there are two ways: purchasing your own equipment, which involves capital costs, or using cloud resources with pay-as-you-go costs (operating costs).
Most streaming services are start-ups for which operating expenses (OpEx) are preferable to capital expenses (CapEx). CapEx is a big expense right away, which means the need to look for investments; OpEx is a quick start. Clouds allow you to start without large-scale investments, quickly receive capacity for project development, provide distributed data backup, respond to peak loads and pay only for those resources that are used. In addition, in the cloud, you can instantly turn off unsuccessful directions without finding yourself with an excess of unnecessary hardware, and quickly reallocate resources to a promising direction.
In the cloud, you can get a ready-made infrastructure, which is supported by the provider. As well as ready-made tools for the development and maintenance of the service. This reduces the demands on the number and level of IT professionals involved in operations.
For example, you can deploy databases and administer them yourself, but this requires specialized specialists. A ready-made solution is available in the cloud, which can be customized and launched within an hour. The DBMS is supported by the provider, and the company can focus on working with data and managing it.
IT without problems
It is difficult to build a streaming service without special cloud tools for uninterrupted distribution of content – S3 storage, CDN, databases. To ensure the speed and smooth operation of the on-premise service, you need to create a full-fledged IT company with a complex and expensive infrastructure. The cloud allows you to simplify the solution of technical problems in order to focus on the service and content.