The business blog

How Hive Streaming leverages browser-based technology to create an out-of-the-box eCDN solution

<span id="hs_cos_wrapper_name" class="hs_cos_wrapper hs_cos_wrapper_meta_field hs_cos_wrapper_type_text" style="" data-hs-cos-general-type="meta_field" data-hs-cos-type="text" >How Hive Streaming leverages browser-based technology to create an out-of-the-box eCDN solution</span>

 

Over the past couple of years, Hive has been in a continuous dialogue with customers to better understand how we can help make video communication even more seamless. The Hive platform already is an out-of-the-box solution, which means it requires no lengthy configurations or endless tweaking – once enabled, it immediately works and automatically adjusts to optimally function in the customer’s network environment.

However, to make sure that our products continue to address evolving digital workplace needs, we maintain a continuous dialogue with our customers and regularly ask for their feedback on how we can serve them even better. What we’ve learned from talking to customers over the past few months is that ease of use is what they often prioritize the most, along with the ability to configure the solutions they use to their individual enterprise needs, in particular when it comes to complying with industry-specific policies and regulations. 

With this feedback in mind, our engineering and product teams went all-in on extending our WebRTC functionality to match – or, in some cases, surpass – that of the installable Hive Agent. As part of this project, we have introduced a few key improvements to our existing WebRTC offering:  

  • WebRTC Silent Testing 
  • Remote network configuration for industry-specific policy and regulation compliance 

In this article, we take a deeper dive into what WebRTC is and why these changes are of significant importance to our customers, as well as the new functionality now available with the zero-installation Hive WebRTC.  

Background

Virtual conferencing and video communication were already on the rise long before the pandemic hyper-fueled their essential status. The years since its onset in early 2020 solidified the role of video as not just a convenience, but a necessity.  

This necessity led to adoption at lightning speed: people switched to video calls when meeting up in-person became risky or not at all possible, school classrooms went digital, and global enterprises abandoned large in-person gatherings, such as cross-continental conferences and kick-offs at hired venues, in favor of online meetings and live video events.  

But what were some of the most critical technologies to not just enable this transition, but make it as smooth as possible? Well, alongside the obvious suspects of virtual conferencing platforms like Zoom and Microsoft Teams, there was lower profile technology such as WebRTC: a framework whose role in live video communication cannot be overestimated.  

What is WebRTC (Real-time communication)?  

The main advantage of WebRTC in video communication is that it simply makes it work near-instantly. It does so without the need for any type of browser extensions, plugins, or software installation.  

At its core, WebRTC is a framework: a combination of JavaScript APIs, protocols and standards that allow the delivery of voice and video communication in under 500 milliseconds – that is, essentially, near-instantly. In IT, this is what is also referred to as low latency. Compared to other existing technology, WebRTC performs best when it comes to the speed of transmission and is considered to be the lowest latency technology currently in existence.  

How does WebRTC work? 

WebRTC is a framework that does not require either admins or individual users to install any software downloads or plugins, and it doesn’t call for extra web servers or any type of equipment. Two-way video and audio communication is enabled directly within web pages, thanks to peer-to-peer communication that happens directly inside of the web browsers.  

Who is using WebRTC?  


It’s probably safe to say that you have benefited from WebRTC technology if you have ever joined an online meeting by following a link (one that’s generated automatically for every video meeting in Microsoft Teams, Zoom, Google Meet or other video comms platforms).  

The instant feedback from meeting participants and the live reactions of attendees that you’ve experienced were most certainly the result of low-latency WebRTC streaming technology in action.  

What browsers is WebRTC compatible with?  


WebRTC is compatible with the vast majority of modern browsers. Since it’s beginnings in 2011, the list of browsers supporting WebRTC expanded to include:  
  • Chrome  
  • Mozilla Firefox  
  • Opera  
  • Microsoft Edge  
  • Android  
  • iOS  

How did the Covid-19 pandemic affect usage of WebRTC?  


At this point it might go without saying that the usage and popularity of WebRTC have skyrocketed since the start of the pandemic. The rapid increase in global popularity of WebRTC is motivated by a combination of factors:  
  • Its ease of use (after all, end users don’t need to take any action in order for it to work)  
  • The general increase in volume of video communication (both personal and professional)  

Why Hive WebRTC?  


As WebRTC technology increasingly became more and more important to our own customers, Hive doubled down on investments into making our entire product offering work just as well with WebRTC as it does with the installable Hive Agents.  

Hive WebRTC works directly inside a web browser and requires no software installation. Our Product and Engineering teams are proud to say that it now offers virtually the same functionality as the installable Hive Agent, including pre-event Silent Testing, bandwidth savings of up to 99% with peer-to-peer distribution, and robust video experience analytics.   

Hive WebRTC key highlights  

  • Designed for enterprise networks   
  • Compatible with most modern web browsers   
  • Runs on both Windows and macOS   
  • Reduces bandwidth needs by up to 99%   
  • Works with your existing video stack   
  • Robust network and user analytics   
  • Custom remote configuration   
  • No software installation or browser extension needed  
  • Stream testing with zero end-user impact   
  • Silent Test script can be run at customer discretion   
  • Guaranteed script security   

Who is Hive WebRTC for?  

Hive WebRTC is custom-developed for enterprises who embrace live and on-demand video as an important means of internal communication. It is a natural go-to for security-conscious companies who prioritize quick deployment and prefer to avoid installing additional software on employee devices.   

Hive WebRTC is right for you if: 

  • Video is an integral part of your digital workplace or corporate communications
  • You run high-stakes live video events such as all-hands, town halls, or quarterly updates  
  • Your organization prefers to avoid installing new software on employee devices or making investments in hardware   
  • Company mobile devices are equipped with WebRTC-compatible browsers 

Available now: WebRTC Silent Testing   

With WebRTC Silent Testing, you can easily simulate each broadcast before showtime to identify and troubleshoot any network issues in advance.   
  • Uses browser-based technology with no additional installation required   
  • A customized script provided by Hive can be run at your discretion   
  • Includes a report on Silent Test results and guidance on how to further optimize your network   
  • Offers kill switch functionality (Stop Test) to immediately terminate a stream if your network becomes overwhelmed   

Advanced video stream analytics   

Hive WebRTC offers nearly the same robust data as installable Hive Agents. Our Analytics tools provide granular insight into user experience and allow IT & Network teams to easily identify the root cause of any streaming issue.  

The main takeaway now is that WebRTC Silent Testing draws on the same robust analytics as actual video broadcasts.   

What is custom network configuration and why certain organizations require it to comply with internal policies 

Our in-house engineering and product teams know that enterprise networks are complex and in a constant state of change. Having to install browser extensions or allowing remote access to end-user devices can be a major security policy concern, especially when it comes to handling sensitive data. This concern is heightened even more if a customer company belongs to an industry where sensitive information is handled on a daily basis, such as the finance or defense sectors – there may exist, for example, a strict regulation that forbids traffic from leaving a certain site in order to comply with a specific company’s security policy. 

Although the Hive solution will always automatically adapt to the customer’s network and does not require any additional tweaking, the new remote configuration feature allows customers to easily adapt Hive WebRTC to their specific enterprise security policies, and limit traffic from ever leaving certain sites if needed. This functionality was previously unavailable for peering via WebRTC.  

The fine print on Hive WebRTC  

Hive WebRTC is only activated when a user watches a video. When not activated, it does not require any CPU, RAM, disk or network resources. It is only available for web browsers that are WebRTC-compatible and support RTCDataChannel. WebRTC will typically run without any network configuration changes.  

Still wondering if Hive WebRTC is a viable option for you?

A video experience specialist would be happy to talk through your individual requirements to see if WebRTC would make for a good fit. With our latest Hive WebRTC enhancements, there are virtually no trade-offs in selecting WebRTC over the installable Agent. 
  •  

Hive Streaming for Microsoft 365

With Hive for Microsoft 365, enterprises can reach thousands of viewers without impacting other business-critical traffic on the network. It also includes the tools to simulate live events before running them, and better understand the impact of streaming video across the network.

Hive is available via Microsoft Azure Marketplace, meaning that Microsoft Azure customers worldwide can gain access to Hive Streaming’s analytics, insights, and video optimization to take advantage of the scalability, reliability, and agility of Azure to drive application development and shape business strategies.

Not sure which is right for you?

 Schedule a free 15-minute consultation with a video expert to assess your needs and find out the benefits of Microsoft Teams live event vs meeting or webinar for your particular needs.