Don’t Let Yourself Be a Streaming Castaway

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By: Steve Vonder Haar

Don’t let yourself be a streaming castaway.

As the solutions that enable online video in the enterprise continue to evolve, your organization must be careful in picking the technology you use for streaming video. With one misstep, you could find yourself stranded on a lonely island of webcasting with a solution that leaves you feeling lost at sea.

In a world where stand-alone solutions historically have defined the webcasting market, the emergence of platforms that leverage open application program interfaces (APIs) are giving technology purchase decision makers more options than ever before. Platforms with truly open APIs make it possible for solutions from different vendors to easily share data, providing organizations increased flexibility in implementing streaming solutions tailored to address their needs.

If you haven’t paid much attention to APIs in the past, here are the three top reasons that you should be asking vendors more pointed questions about their API philosophy before making your next streaming investment.

  1. Preserve your option to mix and match features: It is said that a “jack of all trades is a master of none.” This maxim certainly applies in the highly complex field of developing streaming solutions. It is difficult for a single vendor to develop world class solutions to address all corporate needs in content creation, video encoding, data management and network administration. Down the line, for instance, you may like almost every element of your existing streaming solution but would want it to have better video editing capabilities. By deploying a core platform that takes an “open” approach to supporting APIs, you would enhance your odds of successfully integrating video editing features from another vendor without having to scrap the streaming solution already in place.
  2. Reduce total cost of streaming ownership: Commitments to a single platform solution may be hazardous to the health of your corporate pocketbook over time. Buying into an offering without APIs is akin to handing a vendor a monopoly in addressing your long-term webcasting needs. Vendors may charge more for incremental upgrades and updates to their platforms because they realize the pain you would inflict on yourself in making a wholesale change in streaming solutions. Open APIs are one tool that customers can use to invoke competitive forces that keep the costs of product updates in check.
  3. Pave the way for streaming integration: Moving forward, streaming platforms will not exist solely as dedicated platforms enabling business webcasting. Rather, they will increasingly be seen as broader solutions that make it possible to capture, manage and distribute content from an array of communications venues already used in the enterprise, including video conference, web collaboration and unified communications solutions. Streaming platforms that have an “open API” sensibility as part of their core design are more likely to offer support for this type of integration over time – even if your organization’s leadership is not pushing for this mix of communications capabilities today.

Of course, many factors come into play when making a streaming technology purchase decision. Ease of use, up-front deployment costs and solution reliability all can influence investment choices. Just be sure to add APIs to your list of considerations. Someday, it may save you from a streaming shipwreck.

Steve Vonder Haar is a senior analyst with Wainhouse Research and can be reached at


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