Wide-Area Networking Alternatives
In an effort to optimize the performance of wide-area networks, some large
enterprises will invest in gear specifically designed to streamline the distribution
of data on sprawling corporate systems. Sold by vendors such as Riverbed and
Blue Coat Systems, these solutions support the distribution of a wide array of
data types – not just video. However, the architecture of these solutions is particularly well-suited to
enabling the distribution of video content to large audiences in remote offices. The ability to replicate
video content on remote devices offers the possibility of expanding distribution of video via wide-area
network optimization without employing a substantial volume of additional bandwidth.
Multicasting historically has been one of the most popular approaches that
corporations have employed to distribute video behind the corporate firewall.
Unlike the inefficient mode of “unicasting” in which a single video is transmitted
to a single viewer, “multicasting” enables a single stream to be distributed to
multiple users at the same time.
Evaluation of Video Networking Impact of Wide-Area Networking Alternatives
Solutions that can be used to optimize wide-area networking capabilities are a viable video
networking option for a narrowly defined set the enterprise audience. While the comparatively
high cost of Riverbed and Blue Coat solutions would preclude most organizations from
implementation specifically for video distribution, organizations that already have deployed
this type of wide-area optimization would be able to generate substantial economies of scale
that leverage investments already made in enhancing corporate network capacity.
Organizations exploring the options of putting wide-area networking to use for optimizing
video distribution, however, should carefully review existing deployments. The effectiveness of
wide-area solutions for streaming video also can depend on the video content management
solution. Not all video platforms offer tested integration with wide-area solutions. The lack of
integration can impact the fundamental performance of the network solution while also
diminishing an administrator’s ability to monitor network traffic – a consequence that
negatively impacts their efforts at troubleshooting networking issues as they arise.
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