How Major Events Push Technology To The Limit

Any time a major news or sporting event occurs, IP network infrastructures around the world come under tremendous pressure. Whereas many of these occasions were once – and still are – consumed mostly via TV broadcasts, mobile and online video streaming has skyrocketed in recent years as the main alternative.

For example, the 2012 Olympic Games in London were both the most watched TV programming in U.S. history and the most heavily streamed event of all time. According to the NBC Sports Group, they racked up 2 billion page views and 159 million online streams. Expectations were accordingly through the roof for the 2016 games in Rio.

With so many people tuning to the same content concurrently, broad network service can nearly buckle under the strain. There were concerns along these lines in 2012 when service provider O2 had some outages before the London games. At the same time, enterprises have to be wary of what effects video consumption, in particular, can have on their own WANs.

More pain, less gain: How live event streaming can hurt your network

In competitions such as distance swimming and marathons, pacing is important. An athlete who goes all out in the early stages may not have enough left over for the final stretch. Something similar can happen with WANs that do not efficiently direct their traffic.

Live streams of sporting events can tax network infrastructures.
Live streams of sporting events can tax network infrastructures.

More specifically, all the bandwidth and other resources on the network may be used up by non-critical apps such as live event streaming and bulk file transfers, leaving video conferencing, VoIP, etc. high and dry.

This bandwidth hog situation is sort of like trying to stage the two swimming semifinals in the same pool, simultaneously. There just would not be enough lanes for everyone to get through or for the most talented swimmers to have a shot at a medal.

For an example of how this might look in real-life, consider the rise of 8K broadcasting. The 2016 Rio games was the first event to be officially shown in 8K, in this case via the Japanese public channel NHK.

The demands of 8K video are considerable, such that NHK used a custom stack and a satellite-based delivery system since cable and over-the-air broadcast alternatives had yet to be tested successfully. Moreover, the streams would only be shown in designated theaters since, as of the Rio games, there was no commercially available equipment for viewing 8K video content.

Getting the stream down to an acceptable bit rate for the transmitting satellites required the use of a special 8K codec. NHK’s efforts are the first of what will surely be many forays into 8K sports broadcasting, which will put additional pressure on network infrastructures.

WAN visibility and management for keeping video in check

One of the biggest drivers of software defined technology adoption has been the need to get bandwidth-intensive apps under control so that network resources can be properly allocated to critical services. SD-WAN solutions are prime examples of time- and money-saving innovations here.

“A big driver of software defined technology adoption has been a need to control demanding apps.”

With SD-WAN, it is easy to dig into network activities at every branch, to see if a sports streaming app is draining your bandwidth. Special protocols can be set up to direct your critical traffic across the fastest possible path, with priority over non-critical programs.

As you consider the best way to ensure that your WAN can stand up to pressures from video streaming, contact Talari Networks to request a custom demo of our industry-leading solution.

Categories: Software Defined WAN (SD-WAN), IT Challenges, Network Reliability