Now that Microsoft has discontinued support for Windows Media Server and Microsoft Silverlight, and with Adobe Flash Player seemingly on its last leg, we’re hearing questions about the viability of peer-to-peer (P2P) as an alternative to multicast for enterprise video delivery. For decades, Microsoft and Adobe have developed proprietary software that enabled multicasting, but with the discontinuation of Microsoft’s multicast software and the continued security issues with Flash, organizations are asking, “now what?”
Do these recent events mean it is time to look for an alternative for multicast? And, if so, is peer-to-peer (P2P) a viable alternative?
Sure, P2P is an alternative, but it still can’t compete with the simplicity, scalability and security of the multicast protocol. Just because the legacy software for multicasting is now obsolete doesn’t change the time-tested reliability of the multicast protocol and it doesn’t erase its inherent benefits.
If anything, today’s multicast software represents an evolution from Microsoft and Adobe’s traditional offerings. This includes standards-based (H.264, HLS, HTML5) solutions that are cost-effective and easy to deploy. In addition, new features such as forward error correction (FEC) and bandwidth smoothing allow today’s advanced multicast solutions to deliver high-quality viewer experiences, even over Wi-Fi connections.
When evaluating P2P as a solution for delivering live video within the enterprise, it’s important to consider the complete deployment implications of a software-defined network, like P2P, against the benefits of a modern multicast solution. P2P is a heavy weight solution. Regardless of your environment and deployment schemes, implementation and maintenance can be costly. In addition, P2P is inefficient over wireless networks due to the heavy chatter between peers, resulting in an increase in wireless traffic.
The unnecessary overhead and security issues associated with P2P aren’t worth it, especially when you already have the infrastructure in place to deploy a multicast solution that solves all of the challenges of delivering video over your enterprise network. A secure and more lightweight multicast solution that works over wireless networks is the better path forward for your organization.