On-demand video streaming has become very important for corporate communication. There are training videos, HR orientation videos, and of course archived meetings. The events of this year have accelerated the digital transformation of many businesses by demonstrating that asynchronous communication is critical. That’s where video on demand (VOD) fits in - VOD allows anyone to watch recorded content whenever they need to, which is hugely beneficial from a logistical standpoint.
When it comes to live events, especially those with high numbers of concurrent viewers, peer-assisted delivery’s effectiveness is unparalleled. Without peer-to-peer (P2P), the network infrastructure has to transmit the same video signal to each and every one of the viewers watching the event, which creates congestion, rebuffering, and a suboptimal user experience. The more viewers that connect to the livestream, the more strain the network suffers.
But with peer-to-peer the opposite occurs: the more viewers there are watching the same content at the same time, the better the results. In our experience supporting live events with very large audiences, we have repeatedly witnessed our system reaching up to 99% peer efficiency, effectively offloading nearly the entirety of the network load to peer-to-peer traffic.
But how does P2P work when it comes to VOD?
Peer efficiency (i.e. total bytes delivered within the p2p network / total bytes delivered) is the major KPI Peer5 is after. The higher the peer efficiency %, the greater the benefit our service confers. However, it is hard to predict the peer efficiency prior to a given event, as it depends on various factors, such as the video bitrates and the users’ proximity to one another. But above all, the most consequential parameter is concurrency. The higher the number of peers, the greater the benefit from P2P.
Whether a stream is VOD or live doesn’t matter that much in this context - what we really need is concurrency. A popular VOD asset, such as a recording of a town hall meeting, will almost always reach high concurrency. This is especially true in the wake of company-wide emails that point to the video. Typically, the recipients will begin viewing the video shortly after receiving the email, causing serious bandwidth spikes. This is obviously risky for the network, and may cause it to become congested and slow. Other mission-critical services that rely on the local network are often impacted as well, because they just don’t have enough bandwidth to operate effectively.
Luckily, P2P scales with the demand, and the more “spikey” the traffic is, the better it works.
Here are a few examples of efficiencies we’ve seen for VOD in large enterprises:
And below are some analytics from real-world events that SAP and Peer5 published earlier this year, showing the positive effects that our software had on the stability of their network:
When we explain to customers that our P2P service can also support VOD, we are often asked:
Does that mean that you use local storage?
The answer is no. We find it better not to involve persistent storage since it is more intrusive. Instead, we have decided to be completely ephemeral by default and only use the browser buffer. That means that once the user exits the page, we leave no trace. It also helps us to operate efficiently on mobile devices or computers with very limited storage capacity.
How much do you save in the buffer?
Our default setting for VOD is 300MB. This means that for 720p video, we can keep 20 minutes of video in the cache. That means that two users can peer as long as their playback position is no more than 20 minutes apart.
Popular VOD assets, just like live streaming events, are susceptible to high concurrent viewership which can cause bandwidth issues behind the firewall. Since VOD has become critical for today’s enterprise communications, it is important to ensure that there is always enough bandwidth.
Peer5 provides an ECDN solution that works for both VOD and live and can offload 98% of the required bandwidth, effectively solving the last mile problem. Peer5 leverages WebRTC which means no additional software or hardware is needed, just a modern browser. SAP, Adobe, PWC, Deutsche Telekom, DXC and other fortune 500 customers trust Peer5 to mitigate networking issues.