Building Scalable Media Streaming Platform On AWS

Video has become the primary means of information sharing and learning. Customers are investing in innovative solutions to tap into the e-learning and video space. Video content is their IP and needs to be protected and securely delivered. Online video is a powerful technology that every industry, from businesses to educational institutions to government agencies, is increasingly taking advantage of.

Many businesses and organizations need a secure streaming solution. In particular, the following groups should consider security an absolute necessity: medical institutions, universities and schools, corporations, OTT and media businesses and government offices.

Today, more and more businesses are using video streaming platforms to host and share content. Both live streaming and video-on-demand (VOD) are incredibly powerful tools that businesses and enterprises of all kinds can use to boost revenue, communicate effectively, and build an audience.

In this blog we will be covering;

  1. Difference Types Of Streaming
  2. Challenges Of Building A Media Streaming Platform
  3. Understanding Encoders
  4. Understanding Content Delivery Networks
  5. Understanding The HTTP Live Streaming Protocol
  6. AWS For Video Streaming
  7. Complete Architecture Of A Video Streaming Platform
  8. Top Metrics To Measure Video Streaming Performance
  9. Our Expertise In Media Streaming Platform

Watch The Video To Learn How To Build Video Streaming App Architecture In Aws Cloud

What Is The Difference Between VOD And OTT?

Video-on-demand (VOD) is an umbrella term referring to enabling individuals to select videos from a central server for viewing on a television or computer screen. Technically, VOD is a media distribution system that allows users to access videos without a traditional video playback device and more importantly without the restrictions of a typical static broadcasting schedule. It follows the process opposite to broadcast television programming.

Examples of VOD are:

  • YouTube
  • BBC iPlayer
  • In-flight entertainment systems
  • On-demand on your television
  • Videos posted on your FB feed

Over-the-top (OTT) is a category of VOD that uses the internet to stream media in comparison to conventional streaming of televisions that is streamed via satellite.

Examples of OTT are:

  • WhatsApp
  • Netflix
  • Skype
  • Live streaming

Difference between Video on Demand (VOD) and Over the top (OTT) videosFig: Difference between Video on Demand (VOD) and Over the top (OTT) videos

Challenges Of Building A Media Streaming Platform

Presently, the biggest challenge for building a media streaming platform is the various devices available that play the content differently from each other. Be it a tab, mobile phone, Alexa, tv, or other operating systems, all have different functions and one has to create customization for each. This is a critical choice that a company has to make because it is necessary to allow users to play their content through their preferred device.

Different formatsFig: Different formats

We have to understand that every device requires different codecs. In the last decade, H.264 was the most widely used codec. The tech industry infact, rallied around one codec for streaming video files over the internet: MPEG’s AVC/H.264.

More devices = more codecs

Adopting the new generation compression technology is important because compressing video files means you can send higher-quality video over the same network infrastructure, for a richer, more compelling viewer experience and reduce delivery costs for popular content.

In the current market, new codecs are available, which offer 30%-40% more high compression techniques than H.264. It’s very important for any application developer or architect to adopt new generation techniques otherwise their devices might not work on different devices. Developers need to understand the importance of technology upgradation.

Importance Of Encoding In The Communication Process

Video encoding is essential as it allows transmitting video content over the internet efficiently. Encoding is significant because the raw video’s compression reduces the bandwidth and makes it easier to transmit. With the power of encoding, we can stream online video on multiple devices on our smartphones, tablet, and desktop. It also allows doing video calling/ chatting across the globe with low bandwidth and is owed to online video encoding.

Video encoding processFig: Video encoding process

Significance Of Content Delivery Network

To provide superior customer experiences, many companies use Content Delivery Network services. You can choose a CDN based on your business needs. The choice of CDN should be made based on:

  • Reach
  • Performance delivery
  • Streaming context awareness
  • Access to customer insights

Choice of CDNFig: Choice of CDN

A CDN enables the quick transfer of the assets needed for uploading Internet content, including javascript files, HTML pages, stylesheets, images, and online videos. The popularity of Content Delivery Network services continues to grow. Today most web traffic from websites such as Netflix, Facebook, Amazon, etc is served by CDNs.

What Is The HTTP Live Streaming Protocol?

HLS stands for HTTP Live Streaming. It is a video streaming protocol for delivering audiovisual media to viewers over the internet. This live streaming protocol was first launched by Apple when they launched the first iPhone. It is used to implement an adaptive bitrate streaming format. The most crucial feature that HLS offers is that it can adapt the bitrate of the video to the actual speed of the connection. HLS streaming videos are delivered from a container format such as mp4. Container formats contain an encoded video and audio track in a single file. This file is then streamed using the streaming protocol.

HTTP Live Streaming ProtocolFig: HTTP live streaming protocol

HTTP Live Streaming is encoded in different resolutions and bitrates. As the connection gets slower, the protocol adjusts the requested bitrate to the available bandwidth. Therefore, it can work on different bandwidths such as 3G or 4G. Hence, it provides the best UX based on the user’s bandwidth.

AWS For Video Streaming

Live streaming with AWS solutions Fig: Live streaming with AWS solutions

AWS for Video Streaming can be implemented using a variety of protocols that are layered on top of HTTP. Many popular video streaming websites use AWS. Coursera is an example of a company using AWS to the fullest. Coursera relies on AWS to provide fast and reliable service to users every day. To allow users to watch videos on-demand, it uses Amazon S3 for storage, Amazon Elastic Transcoder for video processing, and Amazon Cloudfront for delivery.

Amazon S3 is an infinitely scalable storage facility for your videos. It has built-in redundancy and allows users to pay only for what they use. The Elastic Transcoder takes videos from one S3 bucket and transcodes it as per the users’ request. Then, it stores it in a second S3 bucket. Amazon Cloudfront caches videos at the edges. Therefore, users experience uninterrupted video playback with minimal delays due to buffering. AWS offers global, scalable delivery at a very affordable price point.

Complete Architecture Of A Video Streaming Platform

Complete Architecture of a video streaming platform

Fig: Media streaming platform architecture

The above representation shows the complete architecture of a media streaming platform using various AWS services.

Top 5 Metrics To Measure Video Streaming Performance

There are many tools that are available to help you measure the different analytics and stats. These metrics also help to understand the viewer’s activity and their experience.

Top 5 Metrics to Measure Video Streaming Performance-01

Fig: Video streaming performance measure

  • Bit Rate – Most important metric to measure, as it helps you understand the quality of the video that your users are experiencing.
  • Buffer Fill – The time spent filling in the buffer when the video is first started. This is important because you want to know how long your users are waiting before a video actually starts playing.
  • Lag Length- Sometimes the buffer is drained, and without enough video to continue, playback halts. All the time spent waiting (including the initial buffer fill) is collectively called the lag length.
  • Play Length – The amount of data actually stored.
  • Lag Ratio – The lag ratio is calculated as waiting time over watching time.

Our Expertise In Media Streaming Platform

As a leading live video streaming app development company with 20+ implementations, we have an in-house team of senior video streaming architects and have knowledge of different codecs and third-party APIs. Here are some other reasons to consider us for your Media streaming product development.

Our-OfferingsFig: Our Offerings

EndNote

We hope this article helped you understand how to build video streaming apps. These services can be divided into the backend, CDN, and the client. All requests from the client are handled in the cloud. Videos are transcoded into different formats for the best viewing experience. Scalability is crucial for your platform as you build it.

If you want to serve millions of users with your video streams, you need the right plan.

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Pravin Uttarwar

CTO of Mindbowser, Chapter Director of StartupGrind Pune

Pravin has more than 12 years of experience in the tech industry, and he is a high energy individual who loves to use out of the box thinking to solve problems. He not only brings technical expertise to the table but also wears a C-level hat – benefiting any project with cost savings and adding more value to business strategy.

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