High Availability in Streaming: What You Need to Know

By The Zype Team on March 22, 2023

High availability is the ability of a system to operate continuously without failure for a designated period. These systems are used in various situations and industries, such as healthcare, military operations, computing, and video streaming. 

What Is High Availability in Video Streaming?

Because data sources are commonly located at remote sites, obtaining high availability in stream-based applications has become more essential. By doing so, companies are better protected from lost revenue whenever access to their data resources and critical business applications is disrupted. 

Why High Availability Is Important

Minimizing downtime and service interruptions is typically a high priority for companies. However, because problems can occur even with the best systems and software in place, implementing a high-availability strategy can reduce the impact of these failures. 

For those involved with video streaming, high availability largely depends on the system's design and how it relates to the end-to-end live video workflow. Whatever system is put into place must consider that viewers expect the same reliability and experience from OTT as they would from traditional broadcast television, regardless of the device. When livestreaming is involved, any failure can quickly magnify and damage the brand. 

How To Measure High Availability

Typically, high availability is measured by the uptime of a particular system or component. Although everyone wants 100% uptime (i.e., the system never fails), that isn't obtainable in the real world. 

So instead, companies determine their high availability based on various factors. These typically include scheduled and unscheduled maintenance periods and the expected time for a system that crashes to come back online. 

For example, a company with a system guaranteeing 99% availability expects downtime of 3.65 days over a year. Conversely, when 98% is expected, 7.3 days of rest are within the high availability guidelines for a company, and so forth. 

There are various steps video producers can take to get high availability in video. These include separating the services to reduce potential damage and implementing multiple availability zones to prevent geographic infrastructure events. Seamlessly switching to maintain a consistent, high-quality user experience and quickly self-healing to recover from failure are other tips to consider when creating a plan. 

How To Guarantee High Availability in Video Streaming

To establish and maintain high availability, companies need to follow best practices — these start with eliminating single points of failure by adding redundancy to a system. Redundancy alone doesn't protect a system, however. Mechanisms should also be in place to detect failures when they occur, and documented action items should be followed to get the entire system back online. 

Necessary Components

There are essential components a company must consider regarding high availability of video streaming. These include, but aren't necessarily limited to: 

  • Location: Where servers are located is essential, especially when there are environmental concerns. For example, servers shouldn't be located where earthquakes or flooding often occur. If they are, redundant equipment in other areas is necessary. 
  • Hardware: Hard disks and network interfaces should be well maintained, regardless of the location, and include edge-server redundancy and RAID-protected storage. All should be resilient to power outages and hardware failures. 
  • Software: Company-wide software systems must be designed to quickly come back online in the event of a hardware failure. Otherwise, one can expect even more downtime. In addition, reliable encoding is important for video streaming. 
  • Data: During a failure, data loss and inconsistency can occur. Successful systems take these issues into account as part of any successful system. 
  • Network: Problems with networks can happen and aren't always the result of an internal problem. Companies must have redundant networking systems in place in the event of a failure. When a network goes down, it can quickly affect live video for customers and how employees can communicate company-wide (via webcasts, broadcasts, and more). 

How to ensure high availability in your video workflows

Zype now offers high availability capabilities for Zype Playout channels per channel. This functionality allows content owners to provide redundant stream fallback capabilities, a requirement for some third-party streaming platforms or syndication providers to ensure uptime. In doing so, end users are provided with reliable delivery and a stable experience.

To get started, Zype customers must have already added redundancy to their plans. After doing so, they can then choose to provision channels and configure high-availability delivery to destinations that require it. They can also enable high availability for their owned and operated endpoints. 

If a channel hasn't enabled high availability, but a destination requires it, a customer must make the necessary changes before going forward. 

For more information on Zype and high availability, contact us online or request a demo

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