For 22 years, everyone who’s connected to the internet has experienced the wonderful functionality of Adobe Flash. Flash has been a dominant force of technology in video and advertisement delivery. As its usage increased, so came the hackers. Basically, the quantity of exploits to the technology surpassed the ability (or decision) for Adobe to keep up. This evolved through the years to a degree where major browsers announced they would no longer support the Flash platform.
Hackers are scary, and the internet users of the world agreed. Since Flash was now a potential security threat, the tech-wizards also deduced RTMP streaming protocol – the way video is carried from one place to another – also needed to go. When browsers started to ban Flash, internet video possibilities began to screech to a halt, unless … a great replacement became available.
Queue the developers! HTML5 video, an answer to the “now what?” about Flash, was released in 2006. Usage of HTML5 video was very slow to take on, but has since grown. While simple, on-demand video delivery is solved with HTML5, the industry is still attempting to solve for the use of HTML5 in live streaming. There are large technical hurdles that need to be overcome, and major video streaming content delivery network (CDN) providers are struggling to get up to speed.
Today’s protocol of choice is HTTP Live Streaming (HLS). Most streaming CDN providers are past their beta stage and beginning to let go of their RTMP outbound video. To note, let’s not get confused that Adobe built an amazing thing with RTMP. Most of the world is still ingesting to these CDNs in RTMP format, while the CDN provider is doing some heavy lifting in transcoding the stream in real time.
This brings us to the next industry problem of latency. Many providers are still wrangling latency issues. Everyone enjoyed the great latency of two to five seconds with RTMP streaming. While HLS is more compatible with many browsers, HTML5, and mobile friendliness, it brings in a whopping 20- to 60-second delay. Obviously, this number isn’t great since we have live events where your audience must interact. Only in the past few months some major service providers, like Wowza, announced a low latency HLS option.
Our world is changing constantly. Video streaming is no exception. We are on the cusp of other protocols gaining mainstream usage (for example, WebRTC), while the giant of RTMP is going out the door and the next giant of HLS is now dominant.
If your organization is hosting live online events, having the best streaming configuration is key. You want a learning management system (LMS) platform that’s on the cutting edge of these changes with experts on staff who can navigate you through the ever-evolving technology landscape.