As use cases calling for real-time interactive video streaming multiply, developers and service providers need to be sure the distribution platform they rely on has the flexibility to accommodate virtually any strategy. When users choose hosted platform-as-a-service (PaaS) support for real-time interactive streaming, they must be able to innovate through access to features that can… Continue reading Viability of Live-Stream Infrastructure Depends on Multiple Approaches to Customization
As use cases calling for real-time interactive video streaming multiply, developers and service providers need to be sure the distribution platform they rely on has the flexibility to accommodate virtually any strategy.
When users choose hosted platform-as-a-service (PaaS) support for real-time interactive streaming, they must be able to innovate through access to features that can be leveraged on server resources exclusively dedicated to them. At the same time, the supplier of the core infrastructure technology must be able to offer hands-on support for those who want to customize their uses of the platform independent from the PaaS model.
In other words, maximum innovation flexibility is the standard in all cases. This is the guiding principle that uniquely defines Red5 Pro’s approach to their experience delivery network (XDN) technology; and developers and service providers worldwide are putting this technology to use in ever more scenarios where real-time interactivity at any scale over any distance has become essential.
As described in the white paper, “The World Needs an Interactive Real-Time Streaming Infrastructure,” the need for interactive real-time streaming is proliferating across a vast range of consumer, business, and government use cases. To provide this fast-growing marketplace the turnkey support many prefer, Red5 Pro has introduced the XDN PaaS, now in beta release, which gives customers the flexibility to innovate using XDN server resources specifically devoted to them.
But Red5 Pro also remains true to its roots as a team of open-source software developers and technology consultants dedicated to work closely with their customers to build an XDN infrastructure tailored to their needs. This contrasts with the cookie-cutter approaches taken by hosted services that limit customers to a fixed set of typically low-scaling real-time streaming applications.
Partnership Ecosystem Feeds Innovation
As illustrated in fig. 1, Red5 Pro operates within a partnership ecosystem that enables ongoing innovation in all the ways multidirectional real-time video networking capabilities can be put to use. The company’s support for customized instantiations of an XDN infrastructure not only serves the needs of developers, it also leads to the types of widely applicable innovations that Red5 Pro has regularly incorporated into new releases of its server SDKs.
Figure 1. The XDN partner ecosystem: a new framework for interactive, real-time live streaming.
Depending on their goals and customization needs, Red5 Pro customers can take different approaches to tailoring the XDN platform for specific use cases.
Often the work can be accomplished through reliance on the Red5 Pro applications framework, which allows customers to write their own applications using server-side APIs. The framework supports a wide range of application categories including transcoding, cloud DVR, conferencing, imaging, and use of attributes available through GitHub among other applications.
Developers using the XDN HTML5 SDK have access to a ready-to-use testing environment as well. Their web apps can be hosted on GitHub for review in a demo environment that supports shared objects functionality and other mechanisms that facilitate rapid transition from idea to commercial implementation.
Some Customizations Become Available to All through SDK Releases
Occasionally, customizations may require modifying the server software or even the creation of unity SDKs devoted strictly to a unique use case. Sometimes customer-initiated server software modifications even make it into future server software releases.
One case in point is Red5 Pro’s Mixer feature, an important modification to the server software that resulted from individual customizations. Mixer enriches user experiences by enabling real-time editing of contributions to live video productions from diverse locations. For example, producers can combine multiple feeds from different cameras into a single stream for selection of screen views by end users, or they can bring multiple commentators together for access to and interaction with end users.
Shared objects manage the data feeds across multiple clients, allowing for the consistent transfer of data such as chat messages, live bets, auction bids, virtual chalkboards, and GPS data, all in sync with the audio and video files. This can be done in the production process to enable the compilation of all elements into a single stream or the delivery of data and graphics components as overlays for synchronized rendering with core content on each receiving device.
The Red5 Pro Social Media Pusher plugin is another example of a customization that has been incorporated into the server software. Pusher is used to facilitate automatic forwarding of a published stream over the Real-Time Messaging Protocol (RTMP) to endpoints like Facebook and YouTube.
With the exception of full-scale modifications to the XDN server software, which must be executed by Red5 Pro, customers can undertake the work themselves while engaging the Red5 Pro team’s assistance as needed. Or they can assign some or all of the work to third parties.
How Some XDN Customers Have Benefited from Customization
Some examples of application customization offer insight into how the malleability of the XDN platform is enabling use cases that would otherwise be out of reach.
Speaking at the recent XDN Summit, Bruce Zieper, director of business development at Southworks, explained how important Red5 Pro’s DevOps support is for his firm’s work as a provider of development assistance to Amazon, Microsoft, Discovery, and Roku among other brands. One area of focus involves live sports producers’ efforts to foster fan engagement through features like real-time Trivia-type games related to a particular event or overlays of stats personalized to fans’ interests.
Working with Red5 Pro to enable such capabilities through the use of the XDN platform in conjunction with traditionally streamed live content brings a dimension to fan engagement that can make a huge difference regardless whether small niche or mass audiences are involved, Zieper said. “Audiences are hungry” for experiences that deliver “real opportunities to get into the game,” he noted. But, he added, “This stuff doesn’t just happen. You have to be able to experiment to try new things.”
Another example where developers are exploiting Red5 Pro’s support for customization involves experimentation with the cutting-edge personal AI technology developed by the AI Foundation, a company devoted to enabling people to create their own lifelike avatars for use in video communications. The company uses the XDN platform to support real-time connectivity among developers as it refines the technology.
Chorus.ai, too, is an AI company that has worked with Red5 Pro to customize their XDN infrastructure, in this case for a commercially operating communications intelligence service that delivers real-time transcription and analysis of conversations and content to people engaged in live interactions. Whatever mode of conferencing and supportive software is in use, Chorus.ai intercepts the verbal and visual exchanges for transmission over the XDN platform to its AI system, which returns the processed output to participants as the meeting progresses.
Sometimes companies turn to Red5 Pro for help with modifications to their XDN based on their customers’ use cases. One such entity is StageConnect, a provider of enterprise-scale virtual event technology that enables video-rich interactivity during live events involving real-time exchanges between up to a million concurrently connected users and luminaries.
StageConnect’s use cases include concerts, large-scale virtual sales kickoffs, seminars and training, and routine small-scale company meetings among managers and employees. “We have a tight integration with Red5 Pro that allows them to build specific components that enhance use of our technology on their platform,” says StageConnect CEO Cole Morgan.
“Everyone watching remotely is getting the live feed from Red5 Pro, and we’re gathering all their video feeds into Red5 Pro for viewing at the venue,” Morgan says. With screen walls displaying feeds from remote or in-venue participants, speakers can call on anyone and see the chosen person highlighted on a bigger display for the duration of the discussion.
So far, the XDN infrastructure employed by StageConnect provides coverage across North America and Europe. Anyone connected in those regions can interact with anyone else via video feeds within the XDN’s 200- to 400-millisecond end-to-end latency window. “The more confined the coverage is geographically, the closer we can get to 0 latency,” Morgan notes.
As real-time video interactivity moves into the mainstream to become an intrinsic aspect of applications of every description, ever more niche instances are coming to light that depend on the adaptability of the XDN platform. Frequently, XDN users will find they are able to put their XDN infrastructure to optimal use for their applications within the PaaS framework.
Other users choosing independent iterations of an XDN infrastructure may want to go beyond the do-it-yourself modifications enabled through the Red5 Pro APIs to undertake customization with assistance from the Red5 Pro development team. With years of experience as live-streaming experts, team members engaged through a custom work contract or prearranged support plan are equipped to provide the expertise customers need no matter what the use case might be.
To learn more about XDN technology and how to go about tailoring its use to optimum advantage, contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org or schedule a call.