WebRTC Camera Streaming: How Hard Can It Be?

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The build versus buy argument for adding new software to the stack has been around since the beginning of commercial platform offerings and the debate continues to rage today. Should you build your own WebRTC camera streaming platform or license a commercial offering like Mersoft? Depending on who you speak to, you will have a variety of opinions ranging from “How hard can it be? Let’s build it” to “We should focus on our core product and leave the platform to a vendor”.

In today’s commercial and smart home security products users demand extremely low-latency video. Not just on one device, but across many including mobile, desktop web, and Smart TV. Therefore, a robust and secure live video streaming platform is crucial to success in the market. Companies looking to deploy these products continue to debate over the build vs buy of their underlying video streaming platform. At Mersoft, we’ve helped dozens of video security companies realize that often the choice to “buy” is a much more viable option than “build”.

We’ve distilled the essence of these conversations down into four core questions video security companies should ask themselves when they work through their decision to build or buy.

1. Do You Know Exactly What You Need to Build?

The term “exactly” is important here as our goal with this question is to ensure the customer understands the fundamental technical components required in a video streaming platform. This information will ultimately inform on the cost of resources and time required to build them all. We walk through the answer to this by defining the following core areas.

Select a Streaming Technology

There are many choices out there for streaming from RTSP (real time streaming protocol) to Adobe Flash(C), HLS (HTTP Live Streaming) and more. Teams often choose what they know best. Recently, Mersoft published a white paper on the choices and recommends WebRTC as the best option. However, that technology has its own set of challenges. When it was released as an open-source project by Google, they provided a set of demo applications that left many developers with the impression it was simple. It’s not. Here are just a few things to keep in mind:

Signaling Server

By default WebRTC does not provide the signaling technology required to properly set-up, maintain, and terminate live video connections between the source and client application. To do so in an elegant and robust way, the signaling server will need to be developed with strong support for multiple web protocols (HTTP, WebRTC, RCS), capabilities around secure session management, real-time notifications, video/voice/SMS control, security, service history, and more. The server must be scalable to large volumes of concurrent sessions. Additionally, it must select and switch to the best network connection in real time.

Video Streaming

Converting RTSP streams to WebRTC in a highly efficient manner is critical to minimizing latency and providing a great experience for end-users. Unfortunately the common open-source transcoding technology available today just doesn’t fit the bill. This forces teams building in-house to develop additional hacks to minimize latency from the transcoding process. The common result is a streaming experience that is slow to start, laggy, jittery and consumes significant compute resources.

Client Applications

From the end-user perspective, latency and user experience are the core criteria they’ll use to rate your product. In-house engineering teams will be tasked to deliver highly compelling user experiences across a range of devices and applications. Thus, it will require them to staff device-specific development expertise and support various code bases. All this will have to be considered along with worrying about providing a consistent user experience across applications.

2. Do You Have the Right Engineering Resources?

Based on the technical components above, does the engineering team have the right skills and experience? This is a fundamental question that is often overlooked by teams who may be set on building in-house and assume their team can handle anything. What we typically find are teams with brilliant people in their specific domains but lacking the overall breadth of experience in video streaming to deliver extremely high quality software in each area. Outsourcing or adding new headcount is an option but adds cost and risk to the project with participation of new and potentially unvetted resources.

3. Can you Afford On-going Support and Maintenance?

Once you build your own video streaming platform your team will need to support and maintain it. This involves securing and scaling your own infrastructure, applying software patches, and constant tuning by DevOps practitioners. Furthermore, these all potentially require new Opex for the organization to support. We see the yearly cost of this easily running into the $300K+ range for basic platforms.

4. Are You Focusing Your Talent on Product Innovation and Differentiation?

If engineers are building the platform they’re typically not focusing on creating best-in-class products. We see the pace of innovation slow drastically as teams switch focus away from core product development to platform development. Launch dates slip, product quality dips, and as a result, differentiation in the market can suffer. Focusing engineers around your core competency of product development can ensure you stay competitive. Staying competitive means having an elegant, intuitive app experience and value-added integrations with other smart home and security devices. Even more, it requires an integration with powerful analytics as well as other capabilities that make a company stand out from the competition.

Say “Yes” to Buy, “No” to Build For WebRTC Camera Streaming

Mersoft provides you with answers and solutions to all of the “build versus buy” questions above. From streaming and signalling functionality to robust SDKs for rapid application enablement across multiple client-types (web, mobile, STB) we’ve spent over 4 years and $8M+ developing the components of our best-in-class platform for your success. Above all, our highly experienced Professional Services Team is available to engage across the entire product development lifecycle, providing guidance and support to make your project successful. Let us handle the platform so your team can focus on what they do best – building great products.

For more information on how Mersoft can make your video streaming solution successful, talk with our team now.

Join Mersoft at ISC West in Las Vegas April 9-12, 2019.

Schedule a meeting to learn how to offer the best video experiences for your customers.

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WebRTC Camera Streaming: How Hard Can It Be?2019-03-11T18:39:25-06:00

Camera Live Streaming With Mersoft WebRTC Professional Services

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Great Video Experiences are Hard

Whether building out an entirely new live video streaming solution or modernizing a legacy platform, doing WebRTC well is hard. At Mersoft, we’ve invested years of time and millions of dollars building our video streaming platform.  It takes care of the majority of heavy lifting for you. Awesome, right? However, “majority” does not mean “all.” So, even with using an industry leading platform like Mersoft to solve your WebRTC needs, there is still quite a bit of WebRTC professional services and system integration work to be done.

In a world of finite resources, most product engineering teams are not only challenged to staff adequate personnel to work on the core product. Teams also must support the underlying platform integrations. Then, there’s more challenge to find the right expertise to handle all the nuances of WebRTC. WebRTC is a relatively new technology and developing quickly. Many engineering teams have not yet built the knowledge in-house to feel 100% confident taking their web video solution from start to finish. The risk they run from bringing in external resources to address these gaps in the team may be overrun of project cost, late product delivery, and, in some extreme cases, a tarnished brand from faulty engineering (e.g., excessive bugs or latency in the video stream).

Getting the Right Help is Key

At Mersoft, our WebRTC Professional Services Team is dedicated to preventing any and all of these risks by providing hands-on support throughout the product development lifecycle. Our team of WebRTC system integration experts have helped dozens of providers. From IoT startups to large brand-name enterprises, we’ve successfully launched many solutions. We break our focus down into the five main areas of modernization of existing video solutions, product strategy, architectural design, hands-on technical development, and general program management. Let’s take a look at each of these below.

Modernization of Aging Video Streaming Solutions

If you are an IoT startup or other company looking to roll-out your first video solution, you get to start from scratch with WebRTC. However, the majority of providers in the space already support video solutions and are challenged with modernizing their technology stack and product offering for web video. This typically means integrating WebRTC with an existing RTSP system or replacing applications that use Adobe Flash or HLS.  Then there’s more: building out new user experiences across consumer devices (web, mobile, set-top box, Smart TV), and learning how to support and maintain new technology. From top to bottom, this “modernization” of an existing video streaming solution can be a major challenge for engineering teams unfamiliar with the nuances of WebRTC and user expectations around application experience and video latency.

The Mersoft team strongly supports these efforts through needs analysis, solution design and integration planning, program management, and hands-on technical support. We steer customers through the pitfalls of WebRTC system integration and make sure their solution meets market demands around scalability, latency, user experience, and more.

Jeff Smith, CTO of Mersoft has advised many customers. “Our WebRTC professional services team has experience with so many different implementations. No matter the challenge, we’ve probably seen it before, and have a good approach for the customer.”

WebRTC Product Strategy

“We are most effective when we challenge assumptions and ask customers direct questions.”

Whether launching their first video streaming product or modernizing an existing solution, providers are not always certain on the best direction. Today’s market expectations around latency and user experience extremely high. Therefore, it’s critical for companies to be 100% confident in their strategy and design before diving into development. The Mersoft team provides business analysts, user experience designers, and product strategists that collaborate deeply with product innovators. They work inside companies to define the features of a new service offering. This can include UX mock-ups, workflow mapping, and support of focus group testing to be sure the product experience is on target. Jeff Weiner, VP of Product Marketing and Sales says, “We are most effective when we challenge assumptions and ask customers direct questions.  As a result, we help define revenue models and tie feature benefits to very tangible ROI. It’s a great collaboration with every customer.”

Hands-on WebRTC Development

During initial product development and then ongoing maintenance, it’s hard to successfully staff all the right skills. The Mersoft professional services team engages in any area of technical development. For example, skills range from optimizing video and audio streams to enhancing the user experience of applications. They bring a deep background of knowledge and experience in the WebRTC space. We pride ourselves on the success of our customers. Therefore, we’re ready for short- or long-term engagements to make sure customers get there.

Architecture and Design of WebRTC Security Camera Streaming Solutions

The success of every new initiative hinges on thoughtful design and planning. Our customers’ engineering teams staff extremely smart people. Yet, many times they are deficient in hands-on WebRTC experience. So, they’re challenged to effectively architect and plan a bullet-proof solution. Mersoft has senior architects and engineers with a passion for new technology. Engineers that thrive on helping customers identify and overcome potential challenges before they become engineering obstacles. In addition, our team collaborates directly with customer teams in lab testing. Together, they validate assumptions of the solution before our customers step too deep into their development.

WebRTC Camera Live Stream Program Management

To help guide customer projects down a path of success, Mersoft will bring experienced program managers. Each has a strong track record of delivering projects on time and budget. They work with customer teams to develop project plans and serve as the single point of contact. They identify and proactively manage risks and issues, collaborate across teams and vendors, and more. As industry experts, our program managers are hyper-focused on ensuring the project runs on-time and on budget to maximize success.

Your Insurance Policy for Project Success

Nobody likes risk, especially for a strategic initiative like new product launch or modernization. Yet, they are critical to compete strongly in the market. By leveraging Mersoft Professional Services, engineering and product leaders can minimize that risk. They can feel 100% confident in delivering an amazing product to market. The Mersoft team can engage in any phase of the product development lifecycle and guide solution providers in launching market-winning products. Talk to the Mersoft WebRTC Professional Services Team now to learn more about how they can help make your next project successful.

Join Mersoft at ISC West in Las Vegas April 9-12, 2019.

Schedule a meeting to learn how to offer the best video experiences for your customers.

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Camera Live Streaming With Mersoft WebRTC Professional Services2019-03-08T11:39:28-06:00

Removing WebRTC Camera Live Streaming Assumptions in the Smart Home

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Over the past few years Mersoft has helped startup video security providers extend their existing solutions with the addition of Web Real Time Communication (WebRTC) and prosper from streaming onto the web. Companies who never thought they could afford the cost, time, or complexity of development to innovate their products toward new use cases, differentiate in the market, and unlock new business models have been able to with our help. Every project presents it’s own set of technical challenges. However, many times the biggest challenge of all is removing WebRTC camera live streaming assumptions held by IoT startups.

We repeatedly see providers stuck with the assumptions that integrating WebRTC is either too difficult, too costly, or doesn’t provide a clear path to ROI. Depending on the direction the startup provider goes in to build their own video streaming platforms, this may be true. However, when leveraging an existing commercial platform, like Mersoftstream, that doesn’t have to be the case . Let’s see how.

My Video Solution Is Good Enough Today, Why Should I Consider WebRTC Camera Live Streaming?

WebRTC is now the best way to deliver live video over the web between security cameras, mobile devices, and IoT products. Companies that have innovated based on this standard enjoy a range of strong business values from capturing more market share, boosting recurring revenue, revolutionizing service offerings, and more.

Stand Out From The Competition

With WebRTC, startup security and IoT providers are able to differentiate their products from the competition with seamless user experiences. Customers can “see” their home or business in real-time rather than only from recorded playback. Additionally, WebRTC live streaming enables the many device platforms that we all expect today  These devices include mobile, desktop web, set-top box, or Smart TV. As startup providers build out user experiences across these devices they are able to address a larger proportion of their target market. As a result, they are able to please end users with specific device preferences.

New Services and Business Models

Live streaming video with WebRTC also allows for new value-add services and associated business models. Many SMB providers offer a recorded playback option on top of their base live video solution that customers pay additional cost for. They may also tie in advanced analytics, like object or face recognition, and up-sell higher levels of service around intrusion detection, elderly patient monitoring, and manufacturing quality.

Compete With Big Brands

With the Internet of Things (IoT) and home automation taking off in the market, WebRTC is enabling IoT startups to also compete with the big brands for share of the Smart Home security market. Consumers now expect streaming from their video camera to be triggered by some other device in the house, such as a doorbell, and displayed on their mobile phone or desktop web browser for viewing. When IoT startups can offer this live functionality, they compete strongly in the prized (and very large) Smart Home market.

Integrating WebRTC into my current solution is too difficult and expensive!

Often, startup engineering teams who have built traditional RTSP solutions look at WebRTC and shudder. They envision long months of building out signaling and streaming servers, supporting new levels of user authentication, and hassling open source transcoding software. Leadership sees an associated high cost of development and likely additional headcount to bring in specific areas of expertise not required by their RTSP solution. This is especially a concern around client development to support web, mobile, (iOS and Android), set-top box, and Smart TV applications. It all seems extremely difficult and expensive. Fortunately, that doesn’t have to be the case.

Platform Development: It’s Handled

With Mersoft, the heavy lifting has been done for the engineering teams. So, no platform development is required. All of the components required to stream web video are provided out of the box. Mersoft uses conversion, rather than transcoding, of RTSP to WebRTC to drastically minimize latency. With basic API-level integrations the startup solution can relatively easily integrate with Mersoft and gain access to the full power of these video streaming capabilities.

Reduce Application Development Cycles

Leveraging the Mersoft ClientSDK, startup engineering teams can drastically reduce application development cycles for common devices used by consumers to view real-time video. While the Mobile SDK supports Android, iOS, set-top box, and SmartTV applications the Mersoft Javascript SDK supports desktop web browser applications, minimizing the amount of required work and hiring of external expertise.

Professional, Knowledgeable Support

At any point in the project, startup engineering teams can leverage Mersoft Professional Services for their projects. Engineering VPs don’t need to look outside for new resources and adding risk. Mersoft Pro Serve can step in for solution design, architecture, implementation, and more. As a flexible extension to the team, Mersoft Pro Serve saves even more resources on the project.

Tying it All Together

Mersoft’s solution is purpose-built for the world of web-based and IoT video applications in the commercial and residential markets. It is lean, well-designed, and ready for integration by startups focused on getting a strong ROI. We’ve been highly successful helping dozens of organizations save years of time and hundreds of thousands of dollars. They simply chose the solution that has already solved the hard problem of fast, reliable real-time video. With a clear ROI, with cost and complexity assumptions addressed, SMB customers can plan timely entry into the market. They can offer truly real-time video solutions that are reliable and easy, putting them ahead of the competition.

Learn more about Mersoft and how it can help you integrate WebRTC. Connect with our Professional Services Team.

Join Mersoft at ISC West in Las Vegas April 9-12, 2019.

Schedule a meeting to learn how to offer the best video experiences for your customers.

Book Meeting

Removing WebRTC Camera Live Streaming Assumptions in the Smart Home2019-03-12T13:02:09-06:00