Streaming Media '99: Justifying Projects
The following is the second of a two-part excerpt from Streaming Media '99. This discussion took place on June 30th in New York City. Last week's segment focussed on best practices for successful deployment of audio and video on a corporate intranet. This week, the panel discusses different approaches to justifying enterprise streaming.
Panelists: Brian Heukroth, VP, Marketing, Starlight Networks, Inc. (moderator)
Roger Dean, VP, Morgan Stanley Dean Witter&Co.
Richard Lang, CEO, Instant Video Technologies, Inc. (IVT)
Paul Boudreau, Program Manager, Windows Media Technologies, Microsoft Corp.
Daniel Agan, VP of Worldwide Marketing, Excalibur Technologies Corporation
Brian Heukroth, VP, Marketing, Starlight Networks, Inc. (moderator)
Brian Heukroth: Paul, [last week] you mentioned that your advice [in demonstrating the benefits of implementing streaming media within a corporate enterprise] was to start small, and, I take it, to start high as well. Certainly Bill Gates is one of the world's most public figures. So, how does your experience jive with that?
Paul Boudreau: Pretty much in a similar fashion. One of the things that I've liked to do, instead of just saying, "What kinds of things can you actually bring your management staff to justify the costs of this?" is as follows. Microsoft is using streaming media to save an enormous amount of money. The way we use streaming media internally is We have a Microsoft Studio, which basically records all the seminars, all the events that take place on a Microsoft campus worldwide. These are saved for all the reenactments afterwards, aggregated as a content asset, where you can search for this content, you can view it temporally, you can see it--all the events that took place on a given day, and this is our way of doing knowledge management and training on internal communications in Microsoft. We're a giant organization. It's very difficult for all of us as individual groups to actively and effectively communicate with one another. So, all the representations that we do internally are saved, are streamed: the power-point presentation, along with the audio and video of the demonstration or seminar itself. These things have an actual cost return. There's a significant ROI involved with capturing this knowledge and then making it available for access afterwards. No one will argue that point. But you do need to bring empirical data.
Brian Heukroth: Moving to Richard - talking about justifying projects - one of the things you mentioned earlier was starting at an architecture that was more at the beginning of its life cycle, which might be an interesting justification, you know, for IT people - it might be a bit of an obstacle. So, how would you overcome that?
Richard Lang: Well, I think that it overcomes itself in the sense of the quality that's associated with the end-of-life cycle solution. What we see with customers is, as much as there's a concern about how it's going to impact on the network, the other is just how it looks. And, it's human nature that, when you're looking at a video, if the video looks jerky and crummy at the end of the day, the supervisor, the manager, the decision-maker in that situation is not going to be bowled over, so one of the bits of advice that I would propose is, pick your mission-critical applications where maybe the deployment is less suggestive in terms of scale, but where what you put on that network initially looks great and, back to your point Brian, is that that difference in quality, if you're dealing with a new generation technology that actually can guarantee a quality of service is going to help drive applications, and if there's a demand for those applications, then it's not so much a matter of justifying them, it's more a matter of being able to provide them; people are asking for them because they've seen it, and it looks good, and if it's not going to bring your network to its knees, then why not do it? Two years from now we're going to be looking at streaming very differently, you know, where, once time is introduced as a variable that has to be optimized, streaming's going to be something else. And that's related to the architecture you want to set up with that.