Here at Ramp we foster an environment of innovation, and over the years this has resulted in more than 20 patents in video and search technology. That tradition continues with the recent award of a new patent for a new method for secure HTTP Live Streaming (HLS) video delivery which has already been implemented within the Ramp Video Management solution.
This new method is standards-based and compatible across web browsers, devices, operating systems and enterprise network configurations. Ramp CTO, Ray Lau, and Manager of Platform Architecture and Engineering, R. Paul Johnson, are named as the inventors and Ramp Holdings, Inc. as the assignee.
With this patent, Ramp has created a standard method for securely delivering HLS video, the file format quickly emerging as the standard for streaming video. Designed by Apple for use in its QuickTime, Safari and iOS software, HLS is a protocol used to break up a video stream into small chunks of HTTP-based file downloads. Rather than downloading the video file as a whole, each chunk is downloaded individually to ensure seamless streaming playback.
This new method of secure video delivery is the foundation of the Ramp Video Management (RVM) solution. RVM is a cloud-based video content management system used by both enterprise and media companies, including a number of F100 and F500 businesses and three of the largest media companies in North America.
Enterprise video usage is surging as businesses are realizing the benefits of video as a communications tool. Enterprises are leveraging video to reach internal audiences in an ever-expanding range of new business use cases.
Unlike media companies, whose ultimate hope is for their video content to ‘go viral’, enterprise organizations need to closely manage who views their video content. This requires secure video delivery infrastructure and a video platform that is capable of managing permissions on a video-by-video bases. These critical needs of enterprises served as the inspiration for Lau and Johnson to develop a new method of secure video delivery.
“Many companies are not experts in video and do not want to provision a secure infrastructure. Some of these companies find it more convenient to turn to an Internet cloud-based solution,” writes Ray Lau, Ramp CTO, in the patent document.
The historical solution for companies who desire a secure video delivery infrastructure but lack the expertise to build one themselves is typically to employ Digital Rights Management (DRM) solutions.
However, DRM solutions are bound to a proprietary video player and platform, which could create problems for using widely available internet infrastructures such as Content Delivery Networks (CDNs). In addition, DRM solutions may introduce compatibility issues across devices that may not support the platform, such as the unavailability of Adobe.RTM. Flash, and limit the ability for video player customization.
“What is needed is an ability to deliver video securely while using widely deployed commodity Internet infrastructure(s) with maximal compatibility across web browsers, devices, operating systems, enterprise network configurations and so forth,” Lau adds in the patent.
The solution devised by Lau and Johnson allows for secure standards-based video playback for HLS videos. The compatibility achieved by a standards-based solution is crucial for enterprise organizations with thousands of employees attempting to securely view videos from a myriad of devices, browsers and platforms.
“It is a fundamental need of our Ramp Video Management (RVM) product to ensure the security of the videos that we’re managing for customers,” said R. Paul Johnson. “Part of our security system is to ensure that our customers videos are secure in the cloud but also only accessible by the appropriate viewer within their organization.”
RVM Secure Video delivery is based upon cryptographically signed URLs supporting both short and long lived time to live (ttl). RVM Signed URLs are secured by the SHA1DSA Digital Signal Algorithm, and, the RVM Notary Proxy supports key rotation for long lived signed URLs.
Ramp’s method for secure video delivery is a technically better solution to DRMs because it is not proprietary and is therefore more compatible with players and network infrastructures.
Read the full patent here.