CONTENT STREAMING: A Solution for the Tough Times

VoicenData Bureau
New Update

Tough time is all around. First, the economy recession then

the Black Tuesday of 11 September 2001. All these developments have put a severe

strain on travel. Does this mean that companies need to make significant cuts in

how they approach their customers or their training needs or how CEOs

communicate with their employees, etc? Well, maybe a few cuts on travel or a

little shrink on training, etc. In today’s scenario, several corporates are at

a loss of ideas as to what they should do? Several experts manifest that this is

the time to use the Internet effectively, to accomplish the corporate

objectives. "Streaming is a good alternative. The simple reason is: if a

picture is worth a thousand words then a streaming picture is worth a million

words. Anyone, be it the multi-location corporates or companies with a large

workforce or even those small ones where functional heads need to communicate,

can easily adopt streaming technologies to bring the desired results",

explains Ishwar B Hemrajani, CEO, Wipro Net Ltd, whose services encompass the

total streaming content-delivery solution. In-Stat, a unit of Cahners Business

Information, a leading provider of critical-information and marketing solutions

to business professionals, has found that worldwide, content-delivery services’

revenue is estimated to be about $336 million in 2001. It observes that

streaming services will be of a particular interest, as companies seek

alternatives to travel.


Those Who Enable Streaming Happen...

  • HCL

    Comnet Systems and Services:

    It provides Speedera Networks’ services for static, dynamic and

    streaming-media content.
  • Satyam Infoway: It

    offers Speedera’s Global CDN services to India as a reseller of the

    latter’s entire array of services, from web-content delivery to

    streaming media.
  • Speedera


    top-tier global provider of content-delivery services has agreements

    with HCL Comnet, Satyam Infoway,and Wipro Net, to offer comprehensive

    content-delivery services for Internet content, including dynamic and

    static content.
  • Wipro


    streaming services to its customers in India and South-East Asia

    markets. With Speedera Networks’ streaming expertise coupled with

    Wipro Net’s Internet-based communication services in thirty-two cities

    (plus, three data centers in Mumbai, Bangalore and Delhi), Wipro Net is

    uniquely positioned to offer streaming services across the country.

Though streaming media, in India, is still in its early days,

some start-up usage of audio- and video-streaming, is happening. It is mostly

happening with the news sites. But this new Internet activity, promises great

advantages not just to the content guys but to every one who has a corporate

Internet and intranet site, believe experts. They also believe streaming media

can reach extraordinary proportions. Says P Muralidharan, head corporate

business, Wipro Net, "There is an immediate return on investment by saving

a lot of money and time. And in many cases there are no apex investments,

too." This is mainly because the users can use the infrastructure of

service providers like Wipro Net, which has the infrastructure for streaming in

India and partnership for outside India content delivery. "We offer SLAs,

24X7 customer support, do network audit for streaming requirement, and suggest

the required changes", adds Muralidharan.

Several factors can, today, support its adoption. Data- and

audio-streaming work very well on dial-up connection too, though Internet

broadband access like xDSL and cable modems will pave the way for the delivery

of broadcast-quality streaming video and audio better. Further, virtual company

meetings, distance learning, and the ability to react to the rapidly changing

business needs, with immediate communication with employees, partners, and

customers, is possible just by integrating the rich media in corporate extranets

and intranets. Another reason touted is the "stickiness" parameter for

e-commerce avenues. The longer a user is at the website, the higher is the

likelihood of a purchase. Says Devashish Sharma, director, Asia operations,

Speedera Networks Inc, "Since streaming media promises a nearly

instantaneous stream of active content, it is a perfect solution for enhancing

user’s interest and to offer immediate gratification".


Beyond Stateless Approach

"To understand the role of streaming media, you need to

understand the functioning of the World Wide Web", explains Bhagwatkar.

"The web servers are ‘stateless’. That means the web server takes a

request for information, pushes that information out of the door as fast as it

can, completes the transaction, disconnects, and goes on to the other requests

made by the other users. On the client side, the web browser takes the

information that it receives, assembles it on the screen, and then ignores the

web server until one clicks on a link. This stateless approach works very well

for media like graphics and text. Feed them into the browser and simply, slap

them on the screen. But moving images and sound are problematic. Unlike a

graphic image, video, animation, and sound, have a time element with them. With

this time-dimension, often comes a larger file size. Under the stateless

approach, a web user would need to download the entire video-clip before it can

be viewed. But with the large file size that comes with even a short video-clip,

wait becomes unbearable. Therefore, another solution is required. Here,

streaming media comes in to picture".

A Case for Savings for an Organization With Over 5,000 Employees

It has been observed that the big corporates like

Tata Teleservices or ITC or HLL, etc, look at imparting training to

close to 700 employees, per year. And each employee would approximately

have to undergo six-to-eight days of training. As part of that training

costs, there is roughly a cost on travel and boarding for a week which

is in the range of Rs 7,000 to 8,000. And cost per training, including

traveling costs, works out to be Rs 17,000 to 18,000. Taking this as the

base, we are working out a rough estimate of savings when one uses

streaming every year. Streaming services are priced at one time-cost,

plus a usage component. In other words, the initial cost of putting

things in place and on the amount of usage.

-> Total training or employee development costs, per year

Rs 11,900,000

-> Instructor costs by the traditional way of conducting

training, per year 

Rs 500,000

-> Costs through CD-ROMs or training material

or updation, per year 

Rs 500,000

-> Total Costs per year 

Rs 12,900,000

-> Streaming cumulative costs per year

Rs 2,000,000

-> Net Savings 

Rs 10,900,000
-> ROI  84.00%
Footnote: Employees 700

Per Year/Employee cost on training/development

programs per week inclusive of traveling and tour costs: Rs 17,000

The above example was for a large corporate but a smaller corporate,

too, can gain significantly.

So rather than a ‘stateless’ data connection, streaming

media is more of a ‘continuous’ connection. In simple terms, streaming is

the ability to distribute continuous digital content over networks in real-time,

similar to the way content is transmitted in real-time over conventional

broadcast networks. Streaming media allows large audio and video content to be

viewed instantly when a request is made by the client. Waiting is minimized, as

is the strain on the user’s personal computer.

Streaming media enables two popular forms of video-delivery


  • On-Demand: This allows viewers to view a desired clip, any time. It is very similar to

    a video cassette recorder. When receiving an on-demand stream, the end-user has

    complete control over the streaming file. Users may stop, pause, play, rewind,

    and fast-forward, as they wish.
  • Live

    Streamed content is delivered as a live feed; users can view the

    content only at the time of delivery. It is very similar to television

  • Simulated Live or Scheduled Streaming: It is same as live

    streaming but with a difference. During a schedule streaming, client receives

    the stream, but can not control the stream.

Quality, Not an Issue

"Streaming as a technology has matured already, but due

to the nuts and bolts, it still needs to reach to the critical-mass. Streaming

is a fantastic concept as compared to the other options", says Sharma.

Streaming Media Capabilities by Bandwidth





Media Type








16-56 Kbps Yes Yes  

(Voice plus 

music-20 Kbps)
Yes Partial screen

(plus 24 Kbps)


64-128 Kbps Yes Yes Yes Partial screen

Cable modem/DSL

100-500 Kbps Yes Yes Yes Partial/full screen,

plus 300 Kbps
Corporate networks 300 Kbps-Mbps  Yes Yes  Yes Full screen

"The key myth is that people do compare TV and Internet

streaming. They forget the whole point that fight is not on quality but

streaming is all about reach, accessibility, and power", says Bhagwatkar.

"Quality and availability are not only the functions of the source content

and Internet access of the user, but also depends on the origin of the streaming

server and how it is being distributed". Further, technologies like

intelligent streaming, dynamically optimize stream-quality based on the network

conditions. This means that content is displayed at the best possible video- and

audio-quality regardless of the network connection. What happens is that when a

streaming server and a media player connect, they automatically determine the

available bandwidth. The server then selects and serves the appropriate audio or

video multi-bit encoded stream. Even under the worst network congestion, media

player tries to maintain the audio-quality but avoids buffering by decreasing

video-frame rate or even by stopping video, all together.


"Businesses can now put a half-hour audio presentation

on their website for the whole year, for less than the cost of one ad in their

local Sunday newspaper", points out Hemrajani. "Streaming for

corporate training and institutional (academic, medical, international)

requirements, seem to be a more logical option. ROI’s are easy to demonstrate

and budgets are easily available. Moreover, the end-users also go back happier

because they are not directly paying for streaming, and the quality of streaming

is also at its perceptible best, as most of the users for these purposes are

themselves on corporate LAN’s (institutions and corporates in the training

environment)", says Sharma.


How Streaming Works?

Step 1 You visit a client website. When you

first click on a link of media clip, your browser requests for the clip,

from a media server or streaming server, on the Internet.
Step 2 The server returns the data to your

computer in a continuous stream.
Step 3 Your computer launches a media player.
Step 4 The streaming data is stored in a buffer.

(Few seconds–depends on network connection).
Step 5 5 Once enough data has been received, the

clip begins to play.

In India, companies like Compaq, Dell, GE, Loral, Motorola,

and Siemens, are already using streaming for various corporate

applications. Most of the corporates have good bandwidth, and the same bandwidth can now be used for corporate

communications, e-learning and remote training, which play an important role in increasing productivity and huge cost

savings, which has a positive impact on their bottom line. Product

demonstrations can be streamed in an entirely different light.

Instead of trying to describe unique and/or desirable features with only text or

audio, client can actually zero in on those important selling points with

pictures. Take another example, big real estate houses, through their streaming slides, can showcase

the property’s outstanding features. They can take interested buyers,

especially those in cities far away, on a tour of the town in which a property

is located via this.The applications to stream differ from

organization-to-organization. But a few key things that corporates can look to

stream would include product training, employee-development programs, workshops,

virtual seminars, quarterly meetings, dealer training, events, and product or

company processes for customer. Says Hemrajani, "We are not saying that

streaming will replace the traditional way of training, but surely, it will

replace eight out of ten." He further adds, "At least five key

benefits can accrue–savings on traveling and on training; increase in

productivity; touch and motivation; time-saving; and modification in

content." The bottom line: streaming media is an effective means of



Ch. Srinivas Roa

Streaming Media Internet Delivery Model

The six necessary components of the streaming media

model are:

  1. Video or audio capturing and

    : Normally,

    the source (either video or audio) will be in analog format, which is

    either live or recorded (content library). A streaming server will

    also have a video or audio capturing adapter or interface, to capture

    the source and feed into server. Encoder digitizes the analog audio or

    video, and compresses for live transmission or storage in a digital


  2. Streaming server (Real Media or Windows Media

    : Streaming server is a dedicated server, with a streaming

    software to serve the encoded video or audio files. It will allow

    multiple streaming of media files and access to any portion of any

    encoded file.

  3. Web server: This can be any regular web server

    and will, typically, have all the front-end files that use streamed

    media. It stores and serves all associated text files that point to

    encoded video or audio files.

  4. Web client software (Netscape or Internet

    : This software is on the client computer that accesses the


  5. Streaming media client software (Real Player or

    Windows Media Player)
    : This software is launched by the web browser,

    and runs as an external application to play and manage streaming


  6. Distribution Network: The connectivity for distribution of audio or

    video data and client interaction i.e. Internet, intranet, Ethernet,

    fiber, telephone line or cable. Distribution network is an infrastructure

    by which video is transmitted and accessed by the users. The server and

    the client stay in communication with each other, during the delivery

    process, and the streaming media server can respond to any feedback from

    the client. Except the buffer, data is never stored on the client rather,

    it is played and then "thrown away".