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Streaming Forum: Streaming Schools the Enterprise
Panopto co-founder Eric Burns discussed best practices that can be applied to both educational and corporate video

"Capturing video in the enterprise tends to be a fairly expensive proposition," said Eric Burns, co-founder and chief technology officer of Panopto. "When I was at Microsoft, we'd typically call a corporate communications crew to come in and set up for a traditional shoot. It doesn't scale very well."

By contrast, Burns said in a talk at Streaming Forum called "What the Enterprise Can Learn from Education," the educational world has figured out how to scale to a high number of hours of video content capture.

"Newcastle University went from no streaming and rich media capture to doing 10,000 hours within the first four months," said Burns. "The University of Essex is recording 30,000 hours of content per semester, and plan to do so in perpetuity."

To do so, Burns says, they had to ditch the idea of expensive and complex AV hardware, and look at software-based encoding with commodity cameras.

"Enterprise can learn from education, but the language is different in each," said Burns," so it's been difficult for enterprise to find examples in education."

Burns gave three instances of webcasts or rich media capture in enterprise, and their equivalent in the world of academia.

"Capturing formal presentations in enterprise is akin to lecture capture in education," said Burns. "The capture of everyday meetings is equivalent to the capture of labs and colloquia.

"Enterprise's challenge of getting video from point A to point B is called distance education," he added.

Subject Matter Experts

So what challenges does enterprise video face that have been solved in the educational space?

Besides the need for software-based solutions that cost less than complex hardware and AV solutions, Burns says that enterprises often don't spend time to understand logistical complexity of a rich media capture, leading them to often underestimate what it takes to capture multiple cameras and devices.

One problem is the need to feed all content back to a single mixing console, whether from the multiple cameras around a room (in a multi-camera shoot) or from the presenter's laptop, which is often not loaded with appropriate software

"To hit the kind of scale you'd need in education, we think there's a novel solution," he said. "Get rid of the wires and let the server synchronize content."

Burns calls this model a distributed recording solution—with one recording at the video mixer and another one at the presenter's podium. Providing the server with the information about each stream means that streams can be captured independently while the server is tasked with synchronizing and distributing them.  

Another problem area that Burns sees in enterprise is the problem of functional silos.

"Campus-wide recording solutions are in place in education," he said, "but in the enterprise, there are a number of silos, each with its own recording solution. That doesn't scale well."

A third issue is limited network capacity between corporate locations and the different levels of bandwidth to each location.

"Accessibility by device is important, but so is accessibility by bitrate," he said.

Finally, there's the scalability solution. According to Burns, collaboration tools or unified communications tools have a limited ability to add on viewers.

"Cisco WebEx is limited to 500 users," said Burns. "GoToMeeting tops out at 1,000 viewers, and Adobe Connect's limit is 1,200 viewers."

A proper solution, he says, is to consider using a CDN, plus WAN caching, so that the number of viewers is only limited by the bandwidth.

"If you're willing to extend the latency out a bit more, the number of potential simultaneous viewers dramatically rises," he said.

Watch the full address below: 

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