Embracing Openness in the World of Streaming

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By: Steve Vonder Haar

Everything you need to know about the future of enterprise streaming can be learned on any kindergarten playground: As any teacher will tell you, it’s nice to play well with others.

Technology vendors today are embracing this “play-nice” behavior as they update their solutions to enable the streaming video workflow for business users.  As it turns out, cooperation is becoming just as vital in the world of enterprise streaming as it is on the jungle gym.

This cooperative approach may seem foreign to those familiar with old school enterprise streaming. The fact is, working well with others has never been a big priority among vendors in this sector. That’s because corporate decision makers traditionally perceived video production and distribution solutions as highly complex – and as a result, focused their attention on acquiring self-contained streaming solutions that actually worked!  This approach eliminated the risk of trying to weave together disparate solutions and, instead, focused attention on a single turnkey platform capable of getting the job done.

For years, this perspective shaped how many vendors developed streaming solutions. The perceived demand for holistic solutions prompted many vendors to focus on building each element of their solution on their own, aspiring to create a system delivering a range of features that cover as much of the streaming waterfront as possible.  The result was a market filled with self-contained, end-to-end solutions in which each feature of the video workflow is finely tuned and fully compatible with every other element of the streaming platform.

As most vendors will attest, however, it’s tough developing a solution that delivers all the features demanded by all prospective corporate clients.  One vendor with expertise in content capture, for instance, may or may not deliver best-of-breed capabilities in the fields of content management or network distribution.  In an ideal world, end users should have access to the solutions that best address their specific streaming video demands.

Fortunately, the way enterprise platform solutions are developed and deployed is evolving rapidly.  The watchword for streaming platforms now is “open.” The industry spotlight is shifting towards solutions that are built from the ground-up to facilitate the integration of streaming applications developed by a range of vendors.

It’s not hard to envision, for instance, a platform that delivers core streaming features, yet allows users to incorporate third party, hosted solutions for video editing and encoding.  Rather than treating each other as playground rivals, these firms can work together, focus on their specialties a more robust streaming solution overall.

This reinforces the importance of “openness” for the developers of enterprise streaming platforms – or their customers.  Vendors cannot pursue these technology integration initiatives if they don’t start from a foundation of “openness.”

As a result, it’s smart for would-be enterprise streaming technology buyers to grade prospective vendors on their propensity for embracing open solutions.  Such flexibility could make the difference between buying a streaming dinosaur and acquiring a platform capable of growing to meet the evolving streaming needs of a business.

For most vendors, the idea of embracing open software integration is just smart business. After all, as any kindergartner will tell you, the kids who play nicely with each other will have more friends and be more popular in school.

Steve Vonder Haar is a Senior Analyst with Wainhouse Research and can be reached at svonder@wainhouse.com


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