Blue Coat Stream-Splits Video over WAN

Optimized Video Delivery on the ProxySG appliance distributes Flash video as a single stream to multiple users, increasing stability and performance.

Blue Coat enhanced its ProxySG network optimization appliance with Optimized Video Delivery to improve live video streaming within the enterprise, the company said on Oct. 25.

Blue Coat added the ability to split a single Flash video stream to multiple viewers in a single location to avoid "video floods."

Video floods are caused when multiple users at a single location try to access the same online video. The company's Internet gateway or WAN gets saturated trying to serve up multiple streams, preventing other critical applications from performing properly.

"With the pervasiveness of video, companies need a way to protect their networks from being overrun, as well as a way to effectively distribute video for business purposes," said Mark Urban, senior director of product marketing of the WAN optimization solutions group at Blue Coat Systems.

The stream-split technology serves a single Flash video to a large number of viewers, enabling video scalability and freeing up network bandwidth while still maintaining video quality, Urban said.

Blue Coat's "send once, serve many" stream-splitting includes support for Adobe Flash Real-Time Messaging Protocol (RTMP) and Microsoft Windows Media MMS- and RTSP-based streaming media, the company said in a statement.

A key challenge for companies is to get live video to employees without stressing the already overburdened network. Companies are increasingly looking to use live video internally, for training, team building and communications purposes, both at headquarters and through the branch offices, Urban said.

Several departments accessing the training video at the same time, or employees tuning into a CEO chat broadcast to the entire company can bring the rest of the network down to a crawl and prevent other departments from getting any work done.

"Blue Coat takes a comprehensive approach to WAN optimization, realizing that simply applying acceleration to email or file access while ignoring video will not ensure that business-critical applications perform well across the enterprise," Urban said.

With Optimized Video Delivery, live video events are distributed throughout the enterprise by reducing them to a single video stream for each branch office that are split at the remote site to serve all employees in that office, the company said.

As more viewers tune in to an event already in progress, the ProxySG appliance automatically adds the viewers to an existing stream instead of starting a new stream. The video load on the Internet gateway or the WAN link is minimized.

According to Blue Coat, external video on the WAN frequently consumes 30-60 percent of the bandwidth. That is not surprising, as video--whether as video-heavy applications or streaming media--comprises 52 percent of worldwide Internet traffic, according to a report from market research firm TeleGeography. Streaming media alone accounts for a significant chunk of traffic, with 18 percent, the report said.

Traditional accelerating technologies aren't enough to remedy sluggish performance at the branch office because video is overwhelming the WAN, Blue Coat said.

"Video caching and stream-splitting are two important technologies that help enable the adoption of video in the enterprise while managing its impact on the WAN or Internet gateway," said Joe Skorupa, Research vice president with market research firm Gartner.

Optimized Video Delivery automatically minimizes bandwidth impact for both on-demand and live video regardless of whether it's being served from the Web or internally, the company said.

Enterprise content delivery networking (eCDN) is possible with the ProxySG appliance, said Blue Coat. On-demand video can be cached locally at the branch office after the first person requests it, or even pre-populated at branch office locations during off-peak periods. Viewers access the cache to view the stream without impacting the WAN.

IT managers can also prioritize video traffic to create Web policy to distinguish YouTube and other Internet-based business video channels from other miscellaneous and recreational streams, the company said.