Over the past week I’ve been researching Watershed, by UStream. Watershed is the “private-label” (the API’s) version of UStream so it can be customized and branded for your own look and feel…yet still carry many of the benefits fundamental to a SaaS solution. At this time there are not many SaaS video streaming solutions in the marketplace, and Watershed appears to be the most robust. Some of the customers in higher education include Duke and Cal-Berkeley.
When comparing with our current legacy streaming architecture, Watershed wins on almost all levels:
-Software as a Service (SaaS) model, no need for servers/rackspace/power/cooling or system engineer resources.
-Built-in CDN services…so it’s scalable. A limitation with our current streaming setup.
-High quality Flash streaming, HD quality streaming too.
-Ability to record while streaming, for instant playback. An existing challenge with our Windows and QT streaming service.
-Reliability that a SaaS solution offers.
-Integration with social media (Twitter, Facebook, AIM, Chat) to make events more interactive and collaborative.
-Webcast from anywhere with an Internet connection – this is one of our current gaps.
-Customization with our own look/feel/logos/watermarks.
-Security, password protect live or VOD streams, and whom can broadcast.
-Instant metrics on the viewership (who, where, what, etc…). Another challenge of the existing infrastructure.
This is definitely a service to consider in the future for video streaming live (and archived) events.
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As far as the streaming bandwidth goes UStream recommends at least 320kbps, 400kbps preferred – they also suggest the encoding bandwidth is no more than 75% of your total.