Enterprise Video Delivery: Multicast

StriveCast Blog

By: Gil Mayrand, Ramp Director of Partner Enablement and Solutions Architect

Earlier this month, Ramp’s Neal Stanton blogged about Creating a Stable Enterprise Video Network. Today, Gil Mayrand, Director of Partner Enablement and Solutions Architect at Ramp, explains how multicast works, the use cases where it is most beneficial and provides an overview of Ramp Multicast+.

Multicast Defined

Multicasting is a one-to-many network protocol that reduces traffic by simultaneously delivering a single stream, such as a live video stream, to hundreds or thousands of users. Enterprise networks must be multicast-enabled to take advantage of a multicast eCDN (enterprise content delivery network) solution.

How Multicast Works

A multicast sender retrieves a live video stream from a video source, often a cloud-based broadcasting platform, and sends it out over the multicast-enabled network. Depending on the network topology, additional senders may be placed in locations around the network to serve as forwarding engines. Then, viewing devices on the network, such as personal computers, each host receiver software capable of tapping into the broadcast stream.

Multicast, Enterprise Video Delivery: Multicast
Video traffic on the network is drastically minimized by eliminating the need for each device to pull an independent stream from the originating source. What do I mean by drastically? Well, high-quality video eats up a lot of bandwidth, and most corporate networks aren’t sized to handle it.

The more you scale, the more your network becomes stressed. To help paint a picture, let’s say it takes approximately 4 mbps of bandwidth to webcast a single video stream. Just imagine what that would do to your network if you had 10,000 viewers watching. All of a sudden, your network would be flooded with 40,000 mbps of extra data traveling your network. It’s like trying to push a gallon of water through a straw all at one time.

Benefits of Multicast

In addition to the bandwidth savings I outlined above, multicast is a proven technology. Many large enterprises adopted multicast to handle streaming video years ago because it’s an extremely efficient method of reaching a large number of viewers with stable, reliable transmissions. In the past, these companies relied on legacy multicast solutions such as Windows Media Server, Cisco Enterprise Content Delivery System (ECDS), and Adobe Media Server, all of which are reaching end-of-life and end-of-support status.

A new generation of affordable multicast solutions is readily available in the market, allowing organizations to continue leveraging the investment already made in multicast network infrastructure. One of those is Ramp Multicast+.

Other advantages include:

  • A single video stream is distributed across your network to reach every viewer
  • Centralized management of network video traffic
  • Efficient for WAN links and Wi-Fi
  • Eliminates network traffic redundancy and reduces processing load
  • Predictable and deterministic

When to Use a Multicast eCDN

A multicast eCDN is best for live video broadcasting to large, densely-located audiences. Whether you have 100 or 100,000 viewers, it distributes a single stream to reach every viewer of your network. There are no restrictions regarding the audience size. This is a direct result of multicast efficiency (noted above). But it is not ideal for VOD (video on demand) unless you plan to push recorded videos as if they’re live.
Multicast is also the ideal choice for networks that are already multicast-enabled. It’s important to note, not all networks are multicast-enabled, so this is an essential variable in determining which eCDN is right for your enterprise.

If your organization grew through mergers or acquisitions, only portions of your network might be multicast-enabled. As a result, you might need to mix and match multicast, video cache, and P2P (peer-to-peer) to get the full benefits of deploying an eCDN.

MultiCast and Peer-to-Peer

In a hybrid scenario, you might use multicast in locations with large numbers of employees and Peer-to-Peer (P2P) technology, such as StriveCast Enterprise, in your smaller locations. P2P is a great solution to optimize video streams at locations with limited infrastructure.

Multicast, Enterprise Video Delivery: Multicast

Just as the name implies, P2P establishes a stable network between viewers requesting a stream. It connects users via WebRTC without the need for a plugin to be installed on the user’s device, making it easy to deploy and manage. When a user requests content, the system first checks for available peers within the network to deliver the content from. If this is the case, the content will be provided without connecting to the origin server.

The combination of multicast and P2P (and video caching where appropriate), gives you the power to securely and efficiently stream video to every viewer on your network. In addition, the optimization of video on demand will be possible.

Ramp Multicast+

Ramp Multicast+ is a next-generation multicast solution that overlays your existing network infrastructure. Multicast+ is the only vendor-neutral multicast solution for HLS and DASH video. Once deployed, Multicast+ serves as a common distribution infrastructure for all your enterprise streaming platforms.

Multicast+ gives you total control over your eCDN environment. It’s deployed and managed 100% behind your firewall with built-in security to prevent unauthorized access to your videos. It’s a lightweight, software solution you can install on existing infrastructure—so no need to upgrade your network or buy proprietary hardware.

To learn more about the benefits of Multicast+, read the Multicast+ Solution Brief or our technical whitepaper Multicast+: Next-Generation Multicast in the Age of HTML5.

Multicast, Enterprise Video Delivery: Multicast
Gil Mayrand, Director of Partner Enablement and Solutions Architect at Ramp

About Ramp

Ramp is focused on helping every organization tap into the power of live and on-demand streaming video. Our enterprise content delivery network (eCDN) solutions drastically reduce the bandwidth needed to stream uninterrupted, high-quality video on corporate networks. Using multicasting, video caching, peer-to-peer networking, or any combination, Ramp is the eCDN for all—all enterprises, all networks, all use cases, and all streaming platforms. Visit rampecdn.com for more information.

About StriveCast

StriveCast is a leading technology provider for eCDN solutions. Our WebRTC-based P2P mesh network is used by large companies like Swisscom, Siemens, Gazprom, and NEP group to solve the problem of network congestion during live events. Based in Germany, we are constantly improving and adapting our cutting-edge P2P technology in order to provide the next generation of enterprise video delivery. Today, StriveCast connects over 150,000 users worldwide on a daily basis, saving customers up to 95% of CDN traffic with a unique server-side-managed Peer-To-Peer network.

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