By Kevin Crayton – VP of Product Management
The mobile device movement has taken a strong hold in many businesses, creating an environment in which organizations have to respond to the rising use of smartphones and tablets for business functionality. As this trend continues, organizations face a major challenge presented by enterprise video programs. Video can be a vital strategic tool for employee engagement and meeting functionality. However, most corporate networks are not optimally configured to support mobile devices consuming large quantities of bandwidth through video streaming.
Looking at mobile video trends
In the past, this was not much of a problem, especially since most mobile users simply operated on the LTE network. This is beginning to change. A recent Business Insider report explained that while video has not been a major part of mobile usage patterns in the past, the only reason for this was the inherent limitations of mobile networks. Now that 4G LTE solutions are readily available, more individuals are turning to the their mobile devices for video viewing.
On the surface, this may not present major problems for companies. After all, users will just use the mobile network. However, many telecoms are beginning to offload their traffic onto the Wi-Fi network, something that is increasingly viable as more smartphones and tablets are built with Wi-Fi functionality. This poses a major challenge in enterprise settings because users will want to use their new smartphones and tablets for video, but turn t Wi-Fi to save money in light of expensive mobile data plans.
Because of these factors, equipping the Wi-Fi to handle video is a priority for organizations. One possible option is to implement IEEE 802.11ac functionality throughout the setup. However, this represents a major hardware investment and requires a willingness to depend on a completely new standard that IT workers may have to learn. As a result, current Wi-Fi infrastructure may need to remain in place while companies find a more cost-effective solution.
Overcoming content delivery challenges
One way to improve Wi-Fi performance is by providing better backhaul for data transmission. To accomplish this, consider how the Wi-Fi functions. Essentially, routers take bandwidth that is available on the LAN and convert it into wireless signal that can be used to access data. As a result, the LAN functions as backhaul for the Wi-Fi. In most cases, the LAN is not the problem, as performance is generally a priority in that part of the network. IT has to look deeper into the network, taking them to the WAN and the root of most video delivery problems.
At its core, the WAN is designed to provide companies with a cost-effective connection between outside resources, such as web traffic, and deliver it into the LAN. As a result, it does not have a significant reserve of bandwidth resources. Furthermore, the WAN is designed to transmit a large number of small data packets, the exact opposite of what video needs for success. As if that was not problematic enough, video performance deteriorates when data packets are dropped, and the protocol used within WAN infrastructure readily drops data packets and automatically resends them when the network is overwhelmed.
Because of this, organizations trying to support mobile video often have to begin the process by upgrading the WAN with an enterprise content delivery network that alleviates the bandwidth burden on the network. This will ease the backhaul issues of getting data to the Wi-Fi and make it easier to identify if any wireless-specific upgrades that need to be made alongside the solutions implemented.