Hive WebRTC, Hive Agents, or Both?

The Hive Streaming service can be tested and deployed by enterprises as installed agents (Hive Agents) and/or as Hive WebRTC streaming software. This blog answers the often-asked question about what the differences and similarities are between the two services.

Similarities between Hive Agents and Hive WebRTC

Hive Agents and Hive WebRTC solve the same challenge in much the same manner in that they both utilize peering technology to significantly reduce network bandwidth congestion. Fundamentally, both allow everyone in a network segment to view the same video stream, rather than every viewer pulling their own unicast stream. Hive Agents achieve this via our agents/software that are installed in the video players supported by the video/webcasting platform our customers use (see supported partner platforms here). Hive WebRTC utilizes the WebRTC protocol already installed in compliant browsers to enable peering and efficient distribution.

Since our latest round of updates, both installed Hive Agents and WebRTC give our customers full control in configuring VPNs and in implementing site specific configurations. For example, there may be a reason why you don’t want peering to occur between different office locations. Bot Hive WebRTC and Hive Agents can be configured to meet this requirement.

Hive Agents and Hive WebRTC are also similar in that both can:

  • Offload up to 99% of video traffic from your local network access points. Savings will primarily depend on the number of viewers in each location utilizing the Hive service.
  • Support similar levels of simultaneous viewers.
  • Support bitrates up to 3.5 Mbit/s.

Hive Agent and Hive WebRTC deployments are supported by the same customer support team and priced in a similar fashion. Analytics for both services are aggregated and presented in our industry-leading Hive Video Analytics service. Hive Agents and Hive WebRTC can be deployed in the same enterprise simultaneously. Hive Insights will aggregate analytics, but Hive Agents and Hive WebRTC devices will not peer with each other, i.e. Hive Agents will only peer with other Hive Agents and the same for Hive WebRTC.

Differences between Hive WebRTC and Hive Agents

The obvious difference is that Hive WebRTC does not require that agents be installed on each users’ device.  Pushing software to users’ devices can be a challenge for some enterprises. With Hive WebRTC, there’s no need to install software on end devices, the service is activated centrally within the administrative controls of your chosen video platform. There’s also less maintenance with Hive WebRTC due to there being no broad deployment of software. Another advantage that Hive WebRTC has is that it can extend efficient video distribution to devices that aren’t managed centrally and some mobile and VDI devices on which you can’t install software.

So why bother with Hive Agents? One of the major hurdles to overcome in most enterprises is that not all browsers and operating systems support WebRTC. Although our pre-event Silent Testing is now available for both Hive WebRTC and installable Agent, Silent Testing is currently not available for either Android or iOS, and only works for headless browsers, which means it is not compatible with Opera or Safari. Apart from some of the limitations when it comes to operating systems and browsers, bot Hive WebRTC and Hive Agents can simulate a live video event without the participation of the end user.

The other disadvantage of Hive WebRTC is that there’s limited support for video on-demand (VOD) as there’s no means to cache content on the end users’ devices. Hive WebRTC can only help with VOD if there’s a high degree of simultaneous viewing of an on-demand video asset.

One last factor to consider is the depth of analytics data. Hive Video Analytics reporting will not include data on the end users’ physical device in an environment running Hive WebRTC, but all other quality of service data will still be available.

The verdict 

With our latest emphasis on going WebRTC-first, many of the features previously only linked to the installable Agent are now also available with the zero-installation WebRTC. This means that there is essentially no major trade-offs, regardless of which solution an enterprise chooses for their individual tech infrastructure needs.

Both remote configuration and pre-event Silent Testing are now available with both WebRTC and the installable Agent, but certain limitations may become decisive if your enterprise has specific requirements regarding operating systems or browsers used, or the depth of analytics data returned from Silent Testing.

Still in doubt? Don’t hesitate to reach out for a personalized consultation on the best solution for your individual enterprise needs at