As we continue the development of our WebRTC CDN solution Flink, our biggest goal is to implement features which were requested by our customers. A lot of you asked for a full-stack solution, including a pre-configured CDN, streaming servers with RTMP ingest and a player that comes with our WebRTC CDN.
Long story short: We did it! And we call it StriveCDN Playout.
First things first – What are the features?!
We thought a lot about what to implement in the first version since we had to decide how long to wait for the first launch. In this article I want to present the 5 most wanted features and functionalities plus the most exciting things to come.
Feature 1 – WebRTC CDN included
The amount of requests for this was crazy! When we developed our platform, we did not expect that so many companies and broadcasters were actually just starting or growing their business, searching for more than just CDN optimization but an all-in-one solution to scale up their infrastructure and ensure great quality for great content.
So we decided to connect every live stream hosted on Playout with our Flink WebRTC CDN solution to even increase quality and delivery efficiency for our users. We are even more proud on our product since it is the world’s very first OTT platform that offers a full stack live streaming solution that is directly connected to a WebRTC powered CDN.
I personally hope that this project shows how important it is to take this step and accept WebRTC as a valid technology to drastically improve the performance of content delivery in the streaming industry.
Feature 2 – Auto-Deployment for streaming servers
Not only is content delivery (and of course WebRTC delivery) a hot topic for most broadcasters and publishers but also ABR and the reliable provision of origin servers are steps you definitely want to do right. Often, transcoders are very expensive and follow a pay-per-minute pricing model. Another problem is the quick (and more importantly correct) setup of a streaming origin. This is typically an RTMP server like Nimble, Wowza or a bare NGINX server.
Strive’s Playout solves both of these problems and gives its users the opportunity to deploy pre-configured streaming servers with RTMP and HLS input. Thus, our origin servers can either serve as direct streaming origins or as an in-place transcoder that re-publishes content in different quality levels and is already connected to a strong, global content delivery network.
When using our dashboard, you can choose from all of DigitalOcean‘s data centers around the world and select the one closest to your location. With just one click and about 30 seconds of time, Playout automatically sets up a completely configured and ready-to-use streaming server. You then can use this server’s RTMP credentials to push your encoded video content or connect it to your current HLS server to add features like HTTPS and ABR (transcoding) to it.
Feature 3 – Direct connections to a global CDN partner
The management of a content delivery network of your choice can often be a time consuming part of your work if you are a video broadcaster. Some CDNs do not provide an automated access process and provide very technical interfaces. Especially if you need to tune your CDN for video streaming (live or VOD) there might be some extra tricks you need to know to actually get the most out of your CDN.
With Playout, you don’t have to worry about any of these things. We did a lot of research, tested and benchmarked every CDN we could find and selected the best of them to integrate into our tech-stack. The first (and best) partner we chose was StackPath, a globally distributed content delivery network with very specialised functionality in live video streaming, origin protection and secure content delivery.
All our origin servers are connected to StackPath out of the box and can be used as soon as your stream is set up.
Feature 4 – An easy to implement live streaming player
Chosing the right player for live video streaming can become a difficult decision since there are a lot of amazing players that have their pros and cons. But most of the time all these players solve the same basic requirements for average sized businesses. To give you a set of pre-chosen players that will work for you in maybe 95% of the time, we included the Clappr Player into our dashboard. We love this open source software product since it offers an incredible set of features and a very active community. Spoiler alert: more players will be integrated – some of them even free to use for Playout customers.
Feature 5 – An automated management platform
To be completely honest, this feature was kind of a must-do since we already automated Flink and build an open-access platform around it. Yet, this feature made it to our list because we did not see a lot providers offering live streaming services on an automation scale like we do with Playout.
What comes next?
For the next version of Playout, we will mostly focus on gathering performance KPIs and a flexible reporting of these KPIs in a dashboard. Rebuffering rate per stream, number of viewers in real-time and ABR level statistics are just the tip of the iceberg. We are also very excited to introduce A/B testings for different Flink configurations. This means, that broadcasters can deploy two different configurations of the WebRTC CDN technology Flink and see which works better for their audience. Also we are looking for new video players as partners to integrate in our platform. The last thing we will include in the next dev-step is recording and scheduled streaming of live video streams.
A great platform needs great partners!
After a fantastic 2017 with lots of new people to meet, technical features to implement and video traffic to deliver, our entire team at Strive took the last month of the last year off to completely reinvent its platform. The main focus was set to automation, better UX and improving our core technology. We are proud to say: we made it!
As one the largest global acting cloud infrastructure providers, DigitalOcean is a perfect fit for Strive Playout. Its API and deployment services are incredible fast and easy to use. Playout uses DigitalOcean to provide a global network of data centers in which our users can start and manage pre-configured streaming ingest servers with one click.
The globally distributed content delivery network provider StackPath was the winner of our CDN evaluation process with focus on performance, features and API usability. StackPath is by far one of the most sophisticated CDNs with great automation processes, fast edge servers, real time reporting and a cutting-edge cache configuration.
Doesn’t it look amazing?
The new design of our platform that we launched in January 2018 also works great for Playout! Check out the screenshots.
Get it now!
If you are interested in Playout, you can check out the available plans or create an account and try it out within minutes!