Swimming Upstream

By David Strom Print this article Print

Video puts pressure on enterprise IT infrastructures. Here’s how to keep up with storage and availability demands.

It’s not always enough to read the latest business missive; users want to play it, rewind it and share it. Online video is quickly moving from a lunchtime distraction to a bona fide form of enterprise communication, but the technology is not without its challenges.

The pervasive push of moving pictures brings additional network, bandwidth and storage needs. Understanding how video content is streamed, consumed and stored across the enterprise is vital when it comes to anticipating and planning the necessary infrastructure changes.

All Video Is Not Created Equal

Some Web video consists simply of streaming clips served up from hosted sites such as YouTube. The rest involves creation, editing and distribution of broadcast-quality clips for purposes such as executive briefings, knowledge-management efforts and all-hands meetings. Video production puts the most pressure on IT resources and demands the best planning, according to experts.

Mark Raudonis, vice president of post-production at Bunim/Murray Productions in Van Nuys, Calif., suggests sticking to streaming video and making sure users have relatively new PCs.

“A 2- or 3-year-old PC should be quite capable of handling low- to mid-bandwidth video,” says Raudonis, whose company produces The Real World, The Simple Life and other reality shows, and edits and stores thousands of hours of digital video every TV season.

Other applications require more robust video capabilities, however. At the Center for International Earth Science Information Network (CIESIN) at Columbia University, for example, intense geographic information systems and data mapping needs have administrators employing more gigabit switch ports for their higher-end desktops, and bolstering select client machines with pairs of RAID O SATA drives (separate, redundant disks with alternate sectors containing the data).

The CIESIN effort demonstrates the wisdom of limiting high-end video to users who truly need it, eliminating the need to upgrade the entire network.

At Brooks Health System in Jacksonville, Fla., CIO Karen Green instituted similar controls when moving patient records from videotape to digital media. Limiting video capabilities to authorized users on authorized workstations not only satisfied the strict Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA) regulations, it “helped us control the use of the content, the quality of the content, as well as the overall impact on the network,” Green says. “We are also looking at whether the business requirement is archival use or immediate retrieval and what impact this would have on the network.”

When determining the impact video will have on your company resources, keep in mind that infrastructure requirements also depend on the quality of the video an organization consumes. How you shoot and store your video—including the number of frames per second—can result in vastly different network traffic profiles and infrastructure requirements.

This article was originally published on 2008-02-21
eWeek eWeek

Have the latest technology news and resources emailed to you everyday.