Customer Case Study: Simplifying, Securing, and Scaling High-Volume Video Delivery
Warpwire has been working with a prominent southern university that has embraced the use of video in education in a big way. The university generates between 10 and 20 terabytes of video content each semester. Faculty members tape lectures. The university’s students regularly use video‑based learning tools across all schools and colleges, and create their own video projects. Specialized processes, such as medical procedures, are captured on video.
There are many ways to share videos publicly. However, ensuring secure delivery of video strictly for the university community’s use was another story. It was becoming increasingly difficult to deliver video to the right viewers at the right time. The university needed to define fine‑grained access privileges for video content, because much of the content is created specifically for small groups of users. Single sign‑on and directory‑based access schemes alone didn’t offer the flexibility to assign access privileges easily to such a high volume of dynamic content. So the university turned to technology provider Warpwire for a solution to its video delivery challenge.
Warpwire provides secure media delivery solutions to its clients, and it was delighted to dive into solving the challenges of secure delivery for video at a large university. Warpwire already had been using NGINX, the world’s most popular open source web server for high‑traffic websites, as a reverse proxy and for core app delivery. Their positive experience with NGINX made the Warpwire team look to NGINX Plus as the solution to the streaming media project.
“We had experimented with several other video‑streaming servers,” says Monte D. Evans, chief technology officer for Warpwire. “But they didn’t scale. They couldn’t handle massive volumes of throughput. Or they weren’t reliable. Most needed extensive customization and lots of tuning to maintain. We had lots of late‑night worry sessions with them.”
NGINX Plus provides streaming media delivery capability, along with other enterprise‑ready capabilities that give developers freedom to innovate without infrastructure constraints. Warpwire now had what it needed to stream all common video formats, including Apple HTTP Live Streaming (HLS), Adobe HTTP Dynamic Streaming (HDS), and Real Time Messaging Protocol (RTMP), quickly and reliably, no matter how high the volume of content being streamed.
Warpwire uses NGINX Plus for caching media assets and images, segmenting video for delivery, and establishing limited access and expiration dates. NGINX Plus also integrated easily with Warpwire’s existing NGINX implementation so that the Warpwire team didn’t have to learn a completely new platform. When Warpwire recommended NGINX Plus to the university as an integral part of its solution for streaming video delivery, they readily agreed.
> Fast, Flexible Deployment
Warpwire’s solution relies heavily on NGINX Plus. Within two weeks, the solution was completely configured and deployed. NGINX Plus integrates easily with many infrastructure management tools, so teams can use the tools they already know to automate and manage the solution. For example, the university uses a Puppet stack to manage its new video‑streaming solution, while Warpwire uses Ansible to manage NGINX in house.
> Simple to Use and Manage
NGINX Plus eliminated much of the tedious packaging work that would have been required to develop a secure video streaming solution. Building on Apple HLS, Warpwire created small isolated components that can be easily assembled to work together.
“NGINX Plus reduced the amount of work involved in packaging assets to be delivered easily, and streamlined communication between all components in our microservices architecture,” says Evans. “It makes it very easy to deliver video to iPhones and other devices, with no throughput or concurrency problems.”
NGINX Plus includes out‑of‑the‑box support for popular formats such as Adobe HDS and RTMP, optimizing the video stream for every device. Simple configuration and bandwidth controls make it easy to input media content and deliver a high‑quality user experience on any device. Through the NGINX real‑time activity monitoring interface, the university also gains visibility into performance, server, cache, and other metrics.
> Reliable, Secure Video Delivery
Warpwire’s solution meets the university’s requirement for secure video streaming. Warpwire secures video assets behind single sign‑on, which automatically assigns and enforces roles and permissions, and uses NGINX Plus to securely deliver the assets. NGINX Plus’ Secure Link Module ensures that only authorized users view content – and it can set time limits and expiration dates on content availability.
Users also enjoy high availability of video materials. NGINX Plus places smart bandwidth limits on individual MP4 streams to prevent fast clients and download accelerators from consuming excessive bandwidth, without compromising time-to-first-play. And built‑in load balancing helps make sure that server faults or service interruptions do not affect users.
> High Performance, Efficiency, and Scalability
Lightweight and efficient, NGINX Plus doesn’t require a lot of resources to deliver video assets, and its performance is unmatched. “Even as early as in our trial, we ran our standard suite of load testing and were literally blown away by the performance of NGINX Plus. We couldn’t say enough good things about it. Issues we encountered with other products in terms of scalability and reliability we didn’t have with NGINX Plus,” says Evans.
After having deployed NGINX Plus in production, the university gained high scalability without having to continuously purchase additional servers or compute power simply to keep up.
“In the implementation, we were able to push forth several gigabytes of data with negligible CPU usage. The university was very pleased. The response of the NGINX Plus servers was balanced, load was minimal, and resource utilization was well distributed,” says Evans.
With the ability to be deployed on campus or in the cloud, NGINX Plus offers customers greater flexibility and control over video assets and management.
> Better Business Decision
NGINX Plus has become an important asset to Warpwire’s developers, enabling them to save time and simplify tasks through automation.
Thanks to Warpwire, the prominent southern university has taken a giant step forward on its road to using video innovatively in education. Without worries about scalability, reliability, or security, the university can achieve its goals more easily. The university now has a platform that supports its internal processes and provides high‑quality video delivery, effectively and efficiently, to students and staff across mobile and desktop.
In early 2013, Warpwire began as a live‑production and archival video technology company. The company soon realized the software it had built for live events solved limitations found in existing media‑delivery products for higher education and enterprise clients. Utilizing decades of experience building highly available and scalable Internet applications, the team’s passion is to imagine the most flexible, powerful, and intuitive technology for secure media delivery to date. Warpwire is based in Durham, North Carolina, USA.
To learn more about how Warpwire deployed NGINX, watch this on‑demand webinar.