Saturday, February 25, 2012

SVForum Meetup: Building a Cloud Platform for Real-Time Video: Learnings and Challenges

This meetup on Building a Cloud Platform for Real-Time Video: Learnings and Challenges was a very captivating presentation — except in the beginning, during introductory slides, when it was somewhat slow-moving1 — on how BlueJeans have created a good recipe for videoconferencing service in the cloud.

The speaker, Alagu Periyannan, is Co-founder and CTO of BlueJeans. Basically, they have created a solution for video calls that appears to be as easy as using Cisco Webex audioconferencing, and supports several different video endpoints to participate in those video calls, including those from Cisco, Google, Logitech, Microsoft, Polycom & Skype. To some IT departments' chagrin, the BlueJeans solution can add one more reason to the Bring-Your-Own-Device (BYOD) phenomenon! (See, for example, BYOD: What will work and what won't in your enterprise, by my colleague from HP, Vishwas Manral).

The primary reason for BlueJeans' capability is their ability to transcode a stream of 720p video in 10ms. (This fact was key information of the talk; I don't know when, or whether, the slides would be published). For example, if there are multiple video endpoints in a video call, a composite video can potentially be created within a delay of 20ms: 10 mS for the transcoding each of the individual endpoint streams (in parallel) and 10 ms for transcoding the composite stream. A one-way delay of 0-150 ms is considered acceptable by CCITT G.114 Recommendations [Craig Partridge. Gigabit Networking, 1994]. Thus, there is nearly 130 ms of budget for one-way transmission. If you consider that the core of the video network is built on optical fiber, you can expect a one-way transmission speed of approximately 200m/μs, or a maximum distance of 26,000 km in 130 ms.2 This speed seems enough to satisfy across-the-globe transmission.

And, if the architecture of the transcoding and multi-point control units (MCU) is sufficiently parallelized, each transcoding operation can be achieved in the aforesaid 10 ms!

Therefore, it seems that BlueJeans has hit upon a nice solution that can propel them to start-up stardom provided, of course, they execute right! They don't have a freemium pricing model, but services start at $199/month for individual user, and so you'd have to be a serious video call user in order to sign up for their service.

1Because of historical details on how videoconferencing came about over the years


  1. Good data Ramesh! There is a company called Thinsy which does something similar, though I don't know about the speed of trans coding.