Don’t Unplug That Server! Fault-Tolerant Streaming With ClearCaster

Learn why pulling the plug doesn’t stop streaming with the Wowza ClearCaster appliance.

Recently, I was supporting our CEO, Dave Stubenvoll, by providing an onsite customer demonstration of the Wowza ClearCaster™ appliance. Suddenly, right in the middle of our session, Dave intentionally pulled the 120-volt power cord from the unit.

While maintaining composure, on the inside, I was freaking out! In my mind, I screamed, “Dave, why would you do that?!”

What I didn’t yet realize was that the Wowza ClearCaster device is designed to automatically resume streaming when power is restored. This incident, while terrifying, actually showcased the resiliency of our ClearCaster hardware, and how it can consistently recover from a power outage.

The Fault-Tolerant Server Keeps Going, and Going…

In most instances, removing power—or disrupting a physical server in any capacity—is a very bad idea. Candidly, even having witnessed the ability of our branded hardware to recover from loss of power, the idea of showing that off in an on-site demo makes me a little nervous. Most of us in the industry shy away from “messing around” with a server once it’s up and running.

My friend, Richie Murray with Bridge Digital, would certainly disagree with me. Over a period of months, I had been running into Richie at various industry events, where he kept trying to get me excited me about a “fault-tolerant server” that he was convinced would be perfect for streaming. He claimed to have this device that would “keep on going” when any primary component became compromised during operation.

It sounded like a great idea, but I wasn’t sold. Prior to working with ClearCaster, I’ve worked with people all over the world, in every aspect of the industry, and have never encountered a situation where a media server could be compromised, yet “keep on going.”

Video streaming is complex and resource-intensive. The thought of a server maintaining a transcoding and packaging workflow—to a maximum scale—while losing a hard disk, power supply or motherboard component sounded very far-fetched to me. But then again, Richie is a stand-up guy, and I realized he may be onto something.

I agreed to meet with Richie and his team to help them set up a test server. We established a simple transcoding workflow, using Wowza Streaming Engine™ media server software, and commenced testing the fault-tolerance of their device.

The NEC Express 5800 fault-tolerant server is a 2RU device that is essentially two servers in one box. Every component of the device is perfectly replicated by a accompanying, redundant spare, resulting in two functioning, logical sections that operate as one. Interestingly, there’s no advanced configuration required, since it looks and feels like a single server—with the key difference that you can physically remove half of the server hardware while your video streaming workflow is running, and it doesn’t skip a beat.

Impressed, but not convinced, I decided to up up the ante. I thought perhaps we got lucky with the fault-tolerant server handing a simple single-stream workflow; what will it do under a “real” video-streaming workload?

Requesting time on the server, I scheduled another session to configure several internal source streams using the Wowza StreamPublisher. I also made sure the central processing unit (CPU), network and memory were all up to around 80 percent utilization, tasked with recording (MP4 and nDVR), heavy transcoding, and HTTP packaging into HLS and DASH. With the server under heavy load, I called Richie (snickering to myself) and asked him to compromise the device.

It didn’t skip a beat.

Redundant Streaming Workflows, Simplified

I don’t know how they did it, but NEC has built a device that will, in my opinion, function as an optimal solution to bolster an on-premise media server deployment where a single point of failure is a risk. Having helped countless Wowza users design redundant workflows, this architecture is perfect for a situation when multiple servers are not practical, but where a redundant server is required.

What I like even more about this is the simplicity. The setup is exactly the same as a single server, but again, with the fault-tolerance engineered into the hardware itself.

If you’re considering an on-premise deployment; have concern over a single-server point of failure; and don’t have the experience, time or resources to build out an elaborate failover workflow, consider the NEC solution, available from a Bridge Digital. Installing Wowza Streaming Engine was simple, and the outcome was exactly as expected.

With plenty of resources for a standard streaming deployment, this is a fantastic hardware solution. Take it from me: I tried really hard to break it, using all the Wowza tricks in the book, and I failed miserably. Can’t ask for much more than that!

Tim Dougherty is the Director of Solution Engineering at Wowza Media Systems, based in Golden, Colo. A user technology expert, with more than 20 years of experience in IT, network administration, video production, and project/program management, Tim serves Wowza by helping customers visualize and integrate effective streaming media solutions.

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RESOLVE Plus 2018 Conference

In late August, NEC’s annual RESOLVE Plus Conference took place at NEC Corporation of America’s (NEC) headquarters in Irving, TX. NEC’s RESOLVE Plus (Remote Engineering Support of Large Volume End-users) is a subscription program for end users with at least 20,000 end points which provides direct access to NEC’s National Technical Assistance Center (NTAC) for engineering support plus complete software support coverage for NEC platform software and applications through Software Assurance (SWA). The conference brings together members of the program to discuss their existing solutions and NEC’s overall technology offerings portfolio.

RESOLVE Plus members from Vanderbilt University, Tift Regional Health System, JPS Health Network, Phoebe Putney Memorial Hospital, and the Department of Veteran Affairs attended the two-day gathering. The conference agenda emphasized administration of various NEC applications currently running at customer sites in an effort to demonstrate how to increase efficiency. Members were provided expert technical insights on the latest software releases and enhancements leveraging NEC’s application technology to increase work productivity. Additional presentations of particular interest included: NEC Product Roadmaps, an overview of the UNIVERGE SV9500, and NEC’s IT offerings.

The RESOLVE Plus Conference is also an opportunity for members to network, exchange and share new ideas around product implementation and use. Marcus Newman, Manager of Network Services at Vanderbilt University, who values the networking opportunity that the RESOLVE Plus Conference offers, commented, “It is always good to get in a face-to-face setting to hear about challenges experienced by other large customers and how they were resolved, plus discuss our own.” Discussing NEC solutions and the design implementation at other sites provides insights on how to better utilize NEC’s technology and make it more efficient.  Marcus added, “The direct interaction with the SWA team, NTAC managers and staff, and product managers helps build relationships that have been very beneficial to us in the past.”

This sentiment was echoed by Walter Niedhammer, Voice Network Team Lead at JPS Health Network, when he affirmed, “The NEC RESOLVE Plus conference provides an opportunity for us to communicate directly with NEC and other top level customers. But more importantly, NEC RESOLVE is a unique relationship that allows us to give and receive direct information and feedback on current solutions, to hear about new products and offerings, and to provide our input on what the group feels would be beneficial to all.”

While NEC strives to make the two-day conference informative and worthwhile to the RESOLVE Community, we also like to have a little fun! Watching the Texas Rangers take on the LA Dodgers Global Life Park in Arlington was the perfect way to relax and network. To learn more about the value NEC offers with RESOLVE Plus Program, fill out the form below.

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A New Vision for NEC’s Smart Enterprise

As the enterprise environment changes, it’s up to technology partners to provide tools and stay adaptable to help support those businesses. NEC has a wide breadth of core UC and IT products and each stands on its own to help solve common technology dilemmas. Our NEC Smart Enterprise encapsulates those multiple solutions into one powerful enterprise approach to meet the demands and complex needs of today’s end users and IT executives.

With Paul Kievit expanding his role to SVP of Enterprise and a new Frost & Sullivan report, we’re building out a new vision for NEC’s Smart Enterprise.
Paul Kievit’s New Vision for the Smart Enterprise

In an effort to respond to market forces and transform Enterprise operations across both the Americas and EMEA, I am pleased to announce that Mr. Paul Kievit, Head of EMEA Enterprise Solutions, will assume the additional role of Senior Vice President of Enterprise for NEC Corporation of America.

Under Paul’s leadership and passion, his team helped develop the NEC Smart Enterprise go-to-market message and approach, which has been adopted by NEC businesses globally. Paul’s vision for NEC Smart Enterprise is to continue to develop and sell solutions around the customer experience:

• Addressing unmet customer needs
• Implementing best practices
• Creating excellence in the customer purchase experience
• Building brand equity and adopting NEC solutions to customer demands

NEC Smart Enterprise Explained

Built on four key objectives, NEC Smart Enterprise helps executives face the complex needs of enterprise users head on:
• Architecture flexibility
Software-defined anything
• Business continuity
• Internet of things

These elements allow businesses to improve how their employees communicate and collaborate, as well as improve the security of the information that is shared throughout the organization.

Moving to the Cloud
As IT executives adopt cloud-based IT and communications services, they hope to solve the challenges of data storage and scalability, maintenance requirements and multi-vendor platform integration. Decision makers, concerned with quality control, security risks, reliability and installation challenges, need to work with a provider and cloud model that addresses their unique needs. A hybrid cloud architecture can combine the best of a public and private cloud, allowing the organization control where they need it and outsourcing other components. Customizing the cloud environment strategically adds architecture flexibility and prepares for future business needs while improving business continuity and compliance.

Meeting the Workforce Where They Are
Business agility helps a mobile workforce respond to customer and business challenges on the go. The legacy focus on hardware has given way to a more flexible architecture of software services. Users and applications expect to work together in an ecosystem that should be available everywhere at any time. Virtualizing networks, through software-defined-anything, relieves the burden of time, real estate, and manned resources and therefore decreases the cost to the enterprise. The benefits of software-defined environments are simplified management, security, ability to scale, and less staff requirements with business continuity built-in.

Preparing for the Worst
While IT departments can “pray for the best” during their primary activities of rolling out new technology or resolving end-user quandaries, business continuity is not just an option anymore. Traditional business continuity solutions involved red tape and budgetary challenges to pay for the expensive hardware requirements. We have finally reached an era of business continuity/ high availability (BCHA) affordability through nearly always-up service level agreements, and users are demanding nothing less. Today’s enterprise technology partners must provide reliable data access through a variety of elements such as virtualization, load-balancing server software, fault-tolerant servers, Software-Defined Networking (SDN), scalability, security and threat management.

Improving Security
The internet of things (IoT), while adding a layer of security through connected devices and biometrics, can also build business value through analysis of the captured data. Law enforcement, higher education, and enterprise organizations leverage video monitoring and multi-factor authentication to prevent theft, monitor crowds, and create more secure areas and access control. Retail, hospitality, and healthcare also rely on video and biometric recognition to increase customer loyalty, improve record accuracy and reduce operational costs. Executives want to invest in IoT technology and need a partner who can maximize the benefits while easily accessing the data through reliable servers with nearly unlimited storage capacity.

The NEC Approach
The Frost & Sullivan vision of a technology partnership that solves enterprise challenges is reflected in NEC’s capabilities and product solutions. Our fault-tolerant servers, the full line of general purpose storage products–including our high-end HYDRAStor product which scales to almost unlimited data, work together with NEC’s SDN and UC solutions to build a quality Smart Enterprise solution for the enterprise marketplace. By condensing the amount of data center space required to run critical applications, and including biometrics into the mix, the new vision for NEC Smart Enterprise reduces costs for organizations and continues to add value, even to existing infrastructure.

• NEC offers hybrid cloud solutions customized to best fit the need of the enterprise, even those with regulatory and compliance challenges.
• An industry leader in the SDN space, NEC’s open architecture enables a flexible and simpler approach to the network design and provides business agility to the workforce.
• Disruptions to business, planned or unplanned, can be damaging to any size business in today’s climate. NEC’s secure fault-tolerant servers–as well as Active-Active communications with multiple software instances balancing the load in real time for high availability, provide true business continuity, even in hybrid environments.
• NEC’s facial recognition, biometrics and behavioral analytics solutions create the ability to gain business intelligence and maximize IoT solutions, creating a forward-thinking smart enterprise.

With new focused guidance and leadership, our NEC solutions for Smart Enterprise and passion for improving the customer experience helps to meet and exceed the needs of technology leaders, preparing them for the future.

To learn more about NEC’s Smart Enterprise, download the Frost & Sullivan Report. (Companion Piece) or the full report here.

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Healthcare: Seeking Better Tools to Improve Safety and Security

Providing a safe and secure environment for patients, staff and visitors is top of mind for healthcare facilities. This commitment extends beyond physical safety and includes the information that they manage and safeguard. As healthcare organizations move more of their information and business operations to the cloud, cyber threats and unauthorized access become important security concerns. Patients, too, are concerned about their health information. Who has access to my sensitive data? Can I easily access it when I need to, without compromising security?

Recent studies show that increased threats of cyberattacks have an adverse effect on business transformation, slowing innovation, increasing potential fraud and affecting the cost of doing business. A comprehensive approach of seamlessly integrating solutions to address IT, communications and collaboration, identity and access control will help healthcare organizations improve the safety, efficiency and reliability of their operations and service delivery.

Deploy Facial Recognition for Safety and Security

The healthcare industry is increasingly turning to biometric solutions to help combat not only fraud, but also medical identity theft. Research predicts that the healthcare biometrics market could reach $2.8 billion by 2021, with North America seeing the largest increase among regions. Fueling this growth are HIPAA and other regulations affecting the handling of healthcare data.

Facial recognition can be used to ensure that only authorized healthcare staff get access to critical patient data, particularly when used as part of multi-factor identification. Facial recognition combined with either a passcode or key card helps make ID more secure. Administrative staff can more quickly process admissions and discharges by using biometrics for patient identity. Healthcare providers are able to access the right patient information when they need it.

For patients, facial recognition gives them access their personal health information, reducing the chance for identity theft of healthcare records. Another application of facial recognition or other biometrics method (finger or palm prints, vascular palm/vein pattern, etc.) is patient identity within a healthcare facility. Secure identification improves safety and security, helps prevent errors and lets staff quickly identify allergies or pre-existing conditions in patients’ records in case of emergency.

Efficient Communications Improves Responsiveness

Things move fast in a healthcare facility — especially during times of emergency. Healthcare officials need a contingency plan to ensure the ongoing safety of patients, staff and visitors during a threat situation. Emergency notification solutions quickly communicate the source and severity of a developing situation and ensure an adequate response by both hospital staff and public safety officials.

Hospitals and other healthcare facilities also experience day-to-day health emergencies, which require responsive communications as well. Mobile communications systems provide for anywhere, anytime communications, which could save precious minutes. Nurse Call and messaging solutions help alleviate alarm fatigue by making sure the right messages get routed to the right staff members

Infrastructure Key Component to Secure Data Access

Privacy and protection of patient information is central to reputable healthcare organizations. The data must be secure, but easily accessible when needed. Comprehensive data management and storage solutions provide protection along with secure accessibility of patient data and information.

Cloud infrastructure offers a reliable solution needed to support information-intensive workflows within a healthcare facility. A secure and resilient infrastructure is a suitable option for highly connected healthcare facilities and the dynamic caseloads they manage on a daily basis. A high availability infrastructure from NEC delivers a multi-tiered resilient environment that recovers quickly in times of disaster, by using Five 9s Fault Tolerant servers, disaster recovery software and SAN and Scale-out Grid Storage options.

Peace of Mind for Patients and Healthcare Organizations

Technology solutions can go a long way toward providing a sense of security and safety for patients and healthcare organizations. The right integrated solution that includes IT, unified communications and collaboration and biometrics can:

  • Increase security of sensitive patient data by controlling access and preventing fraud and ID theft
  • Provide greater levels of patient satisfaction by reducing wait times and helping ensure more efficient and error-free information management
  • Improve physical safety for healthcare personnel and patients alike, especially during emergencies

Check out NEC’s smart comprehensive healthcare solutions.

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Digital Healthcare Starts with a Better ‘Customer Experience’ for Patients

As a consumer, your customer exprience often drives your purchasing decisions. This edict holds true whether you’re having dinner at a restaurant, upgrading to a new smartphone or buying a new pair of running shoes.

Why should the consumption of heathcare services be any different? Unlike many purchases, healthcare customers usually have less mobility in how and where they receive healthcare services. It’s relatively easy to go to a new restaurant if you encounter bad service or to switch retailers when you have a negative experience. It’s not so simple to change insurance carriers or go to a different healthcare facility. The delivery of patient care is made even more complex when considering regulations, compliance and privacy issues. That’s why improving the healthcare “customer experience” has become so important.

Making the patient experience better and enabling healthcare staff to be more efficient falls to the healthcare provider. Fortunately, providers have a myriad of technology options that can help them improve service delivery.

Enable Better Calling Experiences

Digital transformation creates environments to help patients make more informed decisions about their healthcare. One of consumers’ biggest complaints is the inability to easly communicate with their healthcare providers—the phone line is always busy or it rings and rings before someone finally picks up the call. As if being sick weren’t bad enough!

A communications solution designed to rapidly and efficiently handle large call volumes is an ideal option for healthcare providers. A more efficient call system enables more individualized interactions between patients and caregivers and reduces wait times. Contact center and attendant solutions provide the ability to direct calls based on rules that route calls to personnel who have the skills and training to respond to certain inquiries. Calls from patients with similar questions also can often be handled through automated systems, further reducing wait times.

The Ability to Deliver Personalized Treatment…Remotely

Sometimes it’s not possible or convenient for a patient and a caregiver to be in the same place at the same time. Long-distance services such as telediagnosis, telemonitoring, self-monitoring or e-prescriptions use technology to extend the reach of heathcare providers. Video conferencing solutions expand facility services to offsite and remote locations so that dispersed team members are able to connect and consult more seamlessly. Video conferencing can*:

  • Promote knowledge sharing in real time
  • Reduce travel costs
  • Enable faster decision making
  • Build value-based service models
  • Increase care collaboration

*Before video conferencing is used in a healthcare setting, check HIPAA compliance requirements to avoid potential violations.

Further, a unified messaging solution enables healthcare facilities to better manage the flurry of alerts, texts, messages, calls and notifications being sent out. Unified messaging ensures that the right information and alerts are sent to assigned personnel, reducing alarm fatigue and enabling focused care delivery to patients without unnessary distractions.

Helping Caregivers be More Responsive and Collaborative

Being responsive to patient needs is one of the critical aspects of a caregiver’s daily routine. A comprehensive healthcare-focused unified communications and collaboration solution such as NEC’s Nurse Call system brings together voice and messaging to enable anytime, anywhere availability that puts patients first.
Being mobile ensures that healthcare staff can commuicate easily with colleagues and patients within the demanding environment of a healthcare facility. With mobile handsets and software-based clients, caregivers stay connected so that they can share information or request assistance immediately. A seamlessly integrated healthcare environment helps ensure better interactions with patients and improves delivery of attentive care where and when it’s needed most.

A Reliable Infrastructure to Back Up UC&C Capabilities

Since they often deliver critical life-saving and emergency services, healthcare facilities cannot tolerate service outages. By deploying a high-availability infrastructure, healthcare providers have a strong operational foundation to prevent potential service disruptions. Comprehensive protection of critical applications along with communications and collaboration give providers peace of mind as they provide ongoing patient care. A multi-tiered environment that recovers quickly should disasters occur provides added reassurance for healthcare providers. A high-availability solution supports a healthcare facility’s mission-critical capabilities and provides backup and recovery as necessary.

Consumerism will Continue to Drive Healthcare Delivery

As it has in many of industries, rising consumer awareness continues to have a profound effect on healthcare delivery. Using technology to improve service—from setting up an appointment to enabling staff communication to video diagnosis—will go a long way toward improving the patient experience, ultimately resulting in better patient outcomes.

Learn more about NEC’s smart healthcare solutions.

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