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On-Premises, Cloud or Both?: Solving the Video Streaming Conundrum

Determining the best answer comes down to a number of factors such as functionality, total cost of ownership, speed to market and customization needs.

Opportunities to stream video and audio content are on the rise, from TV Everywhere and live linear TV to over-the-top (OTT) content and subscription video-on-demand (SVOD). As such, organizations are challenged to deliver video streaming technology across devices and channels.

When it comes to implementing video streaming technology, one of the most common questions is what video setup works best: on-premises, in the cloud or both? Determining the best answer to this question comes down to a number of factors such as functionality, total cost of ownership, speed to market and customization needs.

It’s not a one-size-fits-all approach, and to uncover which infrastructure works best, organizations must consider the following priorities:

  • Financial and manpower resources: How much is your organization willing to invest, in both finances and manpower, toward building and managing a live streaming workflow—and how quickly do you need to launch it in order to meet your business needs?
  • Scaling needs: Can you predict spikes in viewership? Given your content and audience type, are you able to anticipate when you’ll need to scale to deliver consistent, high-quality video streaming?
  • Control and customization: How much control do you want to have over your organization’s streaming infrastructure, and at what cost? Gaining control over the video streaming workflow often means investing more in resources up front.

Based on these considerations, organizations can map their needs and priorities back to the most suitable solution and choose which option works best.

Option 1: On-Premises Solution

With a fully on-premises solution comes complete control over your streaming infrastructure, lowered operating expenditures (opex) and predictable workflow costs. However, recurring capital expenditures (capex) for hardware, the need to over-provision for spikes in viewership, and continual operating system and network maintenance often mean that it can be a more costly choice.

Option 2: Cloud-Based Deployments

Another option to consider is cloud-based deployments. With a cloud-based video streaming workflow, you can scale capacity up and down in no time. The ability to rapidly scale to handle fluctuations in viewership and transfer intensive processing jobs to third parties makes the cloud ideal for live streaming events where viewership fluctuates. Additionally, cutting costs on hardware and maintenance means that your finance model now focuses on opex instead of capex.

Chris Knowlton

A cloud-based managed service minimizes the complexities of live streaming by offloading much of the heavy lifting to third-party specialists, so you don’t have to make huge investments in resources and expertise. However, what it offers in scalability it sometimes lacks in control. In contrast, a self-managed cloud deployment of virtual machines gives you more control over your infrastructure while leaving the core hardware and network management to the provider. With increased control comes greater responsibility for maintaining the virtual machines, including operating system updates and security.

Option 3: Hybrid Approach

Lastly, organizations can take the hybrid approach, combining both cloud-based and on-premises components. This approach is the most flexible in terms of future workflow mobility, allowing organizations to mix and match to achieve the right mix of economics and control. The ability to partner with third parties to handle scaling and technology updates simplifies the process, but still requires human resources from your organization to manage parts of the workflow.

By asking the hard questions up front, you can ensure that the video streaming workflow you pick will deliver the greatest benefits.  

Chris Knowlton is vice president and streaming industry evangelist at Wowza Media Systems.