WAN optimization provider Blue Coat Systems on Feb. 26 will return to its roots as a content distribution networking company when it applies its caching technology to video.
The Sunnyvale, Calif., company is finding increased demand to improve the performance of live streaming video and video-on-demand from its customers and responded by creating a software interface to integrate its WAN optimization with those of enterprise video vendors.
To promote usage of the interface, Blue Coat also developed a partner initiative and signed on its first two participants: Media Publisher and Jubilant Technologies.
"Were enabling these vendors to add a button (on their user interfaces) that says publish to Blue Coat, which ships video to our (WAN) management capabilities and pushes it out to all Blue Coat appliances in the enterprise, so users can have local, rapid access (to video) without harming the WAN and so they can have a positive experience with video," explained Chris King, director of strategic marketing in Sunnyvale.
Blue Coats SG appliances can recognize different types of video and treat each type according to policies created by customers. Business-sanctioned streaming or on-demand video can be accelerated, non-business video can be throttled to limit its impact on other applications that share the WAN pipe, and unacceptable video can be blocked.
"Growth in Internet video is almost exclusively progressively downloaded flash video delivered via HTTP," said King. If video is delivered that way, Blue Coat appliances can cache the video, and apply different controls to it, he added.
Corporate, on-demand video for training or other purposes can be delivered to branch-based appliances during non-peak usage times, and transfer rates can be established to reduce the amount of bandwidth used.
For live streaming video, the Blue Coat SG appliances can simulate IP multicasting to deliver a single video stream to a branch office and then stream-split it locally for each user who wants to view it.
"Video has a monstrous amount of payload. A single video is akin to a years worth of e-mail in terms of impact on the WAN," said King.
The interface that Blue Coat created for third party video publishing developers allows one-click distribution of live streaming or video on-demand. The interface also allows one-click revocation of out-of-date video. Blue Coat also enabled logging and reporting to allow customers to track whether employees have viewed required videos.
Market researchers are finding greater demand for video among enterprises for desktop video training and corporate communications. "Weve seen a huge shift," said Joe Skorupa, industry analyst with Gartner in Stamford, Conn. "In 2004 I would get a call a month. A year ago it was a call a week. Now Im getting about three calls a week from organizations looking at enterprise-wide deployments of video on-demand for training purposes," he added.
Such demand cuts across a wide variety of industries and can encompass "sales training for retail, financial or food services, internal training for human resources showing acceptable and unacceptable interviewing techniques," described Skorupa.