Welcome!

Mobile IoT Authors: Yeshim Deniz, Liz McMillan, Shelly Palmer, Elizabeth White, Janakiram MSV

Related Topics: @CloudExpo, Java IoT, Agile Computing, @DevOpsSummit

@CloudExpo: Article

Testing Streaming Media | @CloudExpo #APM #IoT #DevOps #BigData

It’s not just for Netflix anymore

Here's the thing: as sure as we'll have another record-setting year for NFL streaming, you can also be sure that apps will fail and streaming services will go down. Whether you are dabbling in streaming or diving in whole-hog, you need to know what to do to give your users the most reliable experience possible. Here are a few tips.

Over the past few weeks, we've seen a ton of 'Back To The Future' themed posts all over social media, as we passed October 21, 2015 - the actual day that Marty and Doc visited in the plot of the second movie of the series. It was a fun time to reflect on what the movie got right about life in "the future," and more comically, what it got wrong.

We don't have hoverboards or hydrating pizzas, but one thing the movie got more of less right was video. Marty's 2015 house is littered with TV screens, controlled by voice, where he can access content on demand or instantly video chat with a manipulative coworker. These things and more happen every day now in the palm of your hand.

What 'Back To The Future 2' never got into (because let's face it, it would've been pretty boring) was how all that video got produced and delivered. We're well beyond just Netflix and YouTube - more and more companies are in the video streaming business these days.

Video Streaming Is Experiencing Explosive Growth
recent AppAnnie study ranked the top video streaming apps, and in this list, you can see the breadth and diversity of industries who are operating streaming video sites. The growth in usage, and even more importantly, revenue, is respectable. In the U.S., revenue is growing 3.2x year-over-year, but in countries like China, it's as high as 9.6x.

Nearly every communications company and cable operator has its own streaming site. So do sports networks that simulcast games around the world, and TV channels that stream clips, episodes, and bonus content.

Here's the thing: as sure as we'll have another record-setting year for NFL streaming, you can also be sure that apps will fail and streaming services will go down.

Tips for Top Video Streaming Performance
Whether you are dabbling in streaming or diving in whole-hog, you need to know what to do to give your users the most reliable experience possible. Here are a few tips.

1) Build It Right: Adaptive Bitrate Streaming
Remember when you had to wait for videos to buffer before being able to watch them? You'd want to watch something, but you'd have to wait 10 minutes while enough of it loaded so it could play continuously through the end.

Fortunately, buffering has largely been eliminated, thanks to both improvements in network capacity and technologies like adaptive bitrate streaming. With adaptive bitrate streaming, the available bandwidth and capacity of the client dictates how much data is sent to you by the server. So a server will start you off with low-quality video if your bandwidth is limited, and then it will fill in the gaps as it can. If you have a small screen, you don't receive as much data. If you hit a bump in the network, it can keep streaming with lower quality so your experience remains uninterrupted. People don't care much if a few seconds of video are fuzzy, but they freak out when the screen freezes 2 yards away from a touchdown.

Adaptive bitrate streaming isn't the only technology worth looking at for better streaming. Read this post and check out a few others.

2) Know Your Peaks
One of the most important things to know about your streaming system is where performance peaks out. You need to know how many users you can support. You can do this by developing a rich load testing process that helps you understand these dynamics.

Run load tests with different levels of hardware and different usage patterns to get a good picture of how much activity you can support. You'll want to play around with different viewing dynamics - for example, run scenarios where people are browsing and viewing lots of different videos, and run other scenarios where a large proportion of the userbase is watching the same thing.

As you understand your thresholds, record those and share them with your Operations team for monitoring purposes. In fact, a strong partnership with Operations is critical, and it's not a bad idea to run some amount of load testing in production because that will give you the most accurate picture of what you can truly support.

3) Monitor Performance
You have to be watching your viewers. Keep your Application Performance Monitoring (APM) solution operating at all times so you know if there are going to be issues. Combined with other basic network & system monitoring software, an APM solution gives you a solid understanding of how your app is holding up at all times.

Synthetic User Monitoring is the best place to start if you don't currently have an APM system in place. Synthetic users simulate the behavior of your users, operating alongside them in the live production environment. You continuously run synthetic user tests to see what kinds of problems your users may be experiencing, before those problems turn into full-scale crashes.

4) Stay on Top of Key Metrics
For traditionally-built streaming applications that use progressive downloading, there are some metrics that are important to track: bitrate, buffer fill, lag length, play length, and lag ratio. These metrics give you a few slices of information that ultimately tell you one thing: does a client have enough bandwidth to consume and process the video stream. You can read more about these metrics here.

If you are using adaptive bitrate streaming, there will be other metrics you'll want to pay attention to, specifically average bitrate (how much data are they getting on average) and startup time (how quickly does the server react to changing information from the client). With adaptive bitrate streaming, your users shouldn't be experiencing any interruptions or delays, however, you'll still want to know if their experience is subpar. These metrics will help you do that.

5) Remember the Ads
Finally, remember that your app doesn't operate in a vacuum. Videos are often streamed with ads on the same page, or other interactive elements from third-party sites. These can impact the user's experience.

No matter how good your infrastructure is, you could be beholden to someone else's. So test the full context of how your users experience your video. Understand how third-party components impact what users do and what users see. The more realistic your testing, the more confident you will be in your app's performance, especially when the pressure is on.

One thing - be cautious about involving live ads in your load test though. If you are heavily testing someone else's ad server, you'll impact the performance of everyone's ads, and that could come back to bite you. You may want to look towards service virtualization for this kind of testing.

Conclusion
In many ways, performance testing for video is no different that performance testing for anything else. However, some of the technologies involved - and certainly the user's expectations for quality - do give video performance testing its own twist.

If you'd like to dive deeper into the technical aspects of performance testing for video streaming, check out our recent post Stream On: How to Address and Avoid Streaming Media Performance Problems.

More Stories By Tim Hinds

Tim Hinds is the Product Marketing Manager for NeoLoad at Neotys. He has a background in Agile software development, Scrum, Kanban, Continuous Integration, Continuous Delivery, and Continuous Testing practices.

Previously, Tim was Product Marketing Manager at AccuRev, a company acquired by Micro Focus, where he worked with software configuration management, issue tracking, Agile project management, continuous integration, workflow automation, and distributed version control systems.

@ThingsExpo Stories
SYS-CON Events announced today that Yuasa System will exhibit at the Japan External Trade Organization (JETRO) Pavilion at SYS-CON's 21st International Cloud Expo®, which will take place on Oct 31 – Nov 2, 2017, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA. Yuasa System is introducing a multi-purpose endurance testing system for flexible displays, OLED devices, flexible substrates, flat cables, and films in smartphones, wearables, automobiles, and healthcare.
SYS-CON Events announced today that Taica will exhibit at the Japan External Trade Organization (JETRO) Pavilion at SYS-CON's 21st International Cloud Expo®, which will take place on Oct 31 – Nov 2, 2017, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA. Taica manufacturers Alpha-GEL brand silicone components and materials, which maintain outstanding performance over a wide temperature range -40C to +200C. For more information, visit http://www.taica.co.jp/english/.
Enterprises have taken advantage of IoT to achieve important revenue and cost advantages. What is less apparent is how incumbent enterprises operating at scale have, following success with IoT, built analytic, operations management and software development capabilities – ranging from autonomous vehicles to manageable robotics installations. They have embraced these capabilities as if they were Silicon Valley startups. As a result, many firms employ new business models that place enormous impor...
SYS-CON Events announced today that SourceForge has been named “Media Sponsor” of SYS-CON's 21st International Cloud Expo, which will take place on Oct 31 – Nov 2, 2017, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA. SourceForge is the largest, most trusted destination for Open Source Software development, collaboration, discovery and download on the web serving over 32 million viewers, 150 million downloads and over 460,000 active development projects each and every month.
SYS-CON Events announced today that Dasher Technologies will exhibit at SYS-CON's 21st International Cloud Expo®, which will take place on Oct 31 - Nov 2, 2017, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA. Dasher Technologies, Inc. ® is a premier IT solution provider that delivers expert technical resources along with trusted account executives to architect and deliver complete IT solutions and services to help our clients execute their goals, plans and objectives. Since 1999, we'v...
As popularity of the smart home is growing and continues to go mainstream, technological factors play a greater role. The IoT protocol houses the interoperability battery consumption, security, and configuration of a smart home device, and it can be difficult for companies to choose the right kind for their product. For both DIY and professionally installed smart homes, developers need to consider each of these elements for their product to be successful in the market and current smart homes.
SYS-CON Events announced today that MIRAI Inc. will exhibit at the Japan External Trade Organization (JETRO) Pavilion at SYS-CON's 21st International Cloud Expo®, which will take place on Oct 31 – Nov 2, 2017, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA. MIRAI Inc. are IT consultants from the public sector whose mission is to solve social issues by technology and innovation and to create a meaningful future for people.
SYS-CON Events announced today that Massive Networks, that helps your business operate seamlessly with fast, reliable, and secure internet and network solutions, has been named "Exhibitor" of SYS-CON's 21st International Cloud Expo ®, which will take place on Oct 31 - Nov 2, 2017, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA. As a premier telecommunications provider, Massive Networks is headquartered out of Louisville, Colorado. With years of experience under their belt, their team of...
SYS-CON Events announced today that TidalScale, a leading provider of systems and services, will exhibit at SYS-CON's 21st International Cloud Expo®, which will take place on Oct 31 - Nov 2, 2017, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA. TidalScale has been involved in shaping the computing landscape. They've designed, developed and deployed some of the most important and successful systems and services in the history of the computing industry - internet, Ethernet, operating s...
Widespread fragmentation is stalling the growth of the IIoT and making it difficult for partners to work together. The number of software platforms, apps, hardware and connectivity standards is creating paralysis among businesses that are afraid of being locked into a solution. EdgeX Foundry is unifying the community around a common IoT edge framework and an ecosystem of interoperable components.
Coca-Cola’s Google powered digital signage system lays the groundwork for a more valuable connection between Coke and its customers. Digital signs pair software with high-resolution displays so that a message can be changed instantly based on what the operator wants to communicate or sell. In their Day 3 Keynote at 21st Cloud Expo, Greg Chambers, Global Group Director, Digital Innovation, Coca-Cola, and Vidya Nagarajan, a Senior Product Manager at Google, will discuss how from store operations...
In a recent survey, Sumo Logic surveyed 1,500 customers who employ cloud services such as Amazon Web Services (AWS), Microsoft Azure, and Google Cloud Platform (GCP). According to the survey, a quarter of the respondents have already deployed Docker containers and nearly as many (23 percent) are employing the AWS Lambda serverless computing framework. It’s clear: serverless is here to stay. The adoption does come with some needed changes, within both application development and operations. Tha...
SYS-CON Events announced today that IBM has been named “Diamond Sponsor” of SYS-CON's 21st Cloud Expo, which will take place on October 31 through November 2nd 2017 at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, California.
In his Opening Keynote at 21st Cloud Expo, John Considine, General Manager of IBM Cloud Infrastructure, will lead you through the exciting evolution of the cloud. He'll look at this major disruption from the perspective of technology, business models, and what this means for enterprises of all sizes. John Considine is General Manager of Cloud Infrastructure Services at IBM. In that role he is responsible for leading IBM’s public cloud infrastructure including strategy, development, and offering ...
Infoblox delivers Actionable Network Intelligence to enterprise, government, and service provider customers around the world. They are the industry leader in DNS, DHCP, and IP address management, the category known as DDI. We empower thousands of organizations to control and secure their networks from the core-enabling them to increase efficiency and visibility, improve customer service, and meet compliance requirements.
Join IBM November 1 at 21st Cloud Expo at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA, and learn how IBM Watson can bring cognitive services and AI to intelligent, unmanned systems. Cognitive analysis impacts today’s systems with unparalleled ability that were previously available only to manned, back-end operations. Thanks to cloud processing, IBM Watson can bring cognitive services and AI to intelligent, unmanned systems. Imagine a robot vacuum that becomes your personal assistant tha...
With major technology companies and startups seriously embracing Cloud strategies, now is the perfect time to attend 21st Cloud Expo October 31 - November 2, 2017, at the Santa Clara Convention Center, CA, and June 12-14, 2018, at the Javits Center in New York City, NY, and learn what is going on, contribute to the discussions, and ensure that your enterprise is on the right path to Digital Transformation.
Recently, REAN Cloud built a digital concierge for a North Carolina hospital that had observed that most patient call button questions were repetitive. In addition, the paper-based process used to measure patient health metrics was laborious, not in real-time and sometimes error-prone. In their session at 21st Cloud Expo, Sean Finnerty, Executive Director, Practice Lead, Health Care & Life Science at REAN Cloud, and Dr. S.P.T. Krishnan, Principal Architect at REAN Cloud, will discuss how they b...
SYS-CON Events announced today that mruby Forum will exhibit at the Japan External Trade Organization (JETRO) Pavilion at SYS-CON's 21st International Cloud Expo®, which will take place on Oct 31 – Nov 2, 2017, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA. mruby is the lightweight implementation of the Ruby language. We introduce mruby and the mruby IoT framework that enhances development productivity. For more information, visit http://forum.mruby.org/.
Digital transformation is changing the face of business. The IDC predicts that enterprises will commit to a massive new scale of digital transformation, to stake out leadership positions in the "digital transformation economy." Accordingly, attendees at the upcoming Cloud Expo | @ThingsExpo at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA, Oct 31-Nov 2, will find fresh new content in a new track called Enterprise Cloud & Digital Transformation.