As I’ve written before, video is hot right now. Just look at video’s integration into everything from Intel drones inspecting solar panels to Ring door bells to Phillips ICU beds and RBC banking apps. If you spent any time at CES 2017 like I did, this would be evident that everything is becoming video enabled. Vidyo is one of the leaders in the video sector, literally the video “arms dealer” to companies like Google, Alibaba, Xiaomi, Bloomberg, Barclays, Philips, the DoD, NCR, RBC and more. For that reason, I’ve been following them very closely this past few years, and have written multiple articles and papers on the various ways they and video are revolutionizing the fields of healthcare, banking, and defense with their video technology.
Vidyo’s announcement today is the general availability launch of their Vidyo.io Communications Platform-as-a-Service (CPaaS for short), opening up Vidyo’s technology to thousands of developers and enterprises so that they can embed high-def, scalable, reliable, multiparty video streaming or chat into any WebRTC, mobile or native application.
What is it and why are video APIs “as a service” important?
First a little more background on Vidyo.io and different ways video can be enabled. Open video can more or less be segmented into three separate “stages,” which I’ve delineated here—Vidyo already has the first two stages covered by their more traditional offerings, Vidyo, and Vidyo Cloud, and the third, most-advanced stage is CPaaS, which goes live today. To recap, Stage 3 is where the enterprise or app vendor uses the video vendor’s defined API and cloud service without actual interaction with the video vendor, asides from swiping a credit card. Everything is self-service and full opex, not requiring capex.
There are numerous market drivers in place for Vidyo.io and other CPaaS offerings—but a lot of it simply boils down to the fact that nowadays cameras are everywhere, and we are doing more and more things remotely from mobile devices than ever before (think online banking). Face-to-face interaction, enabled by Vidyo and other video communication companies, has the potential to greatly enhance customer experience and satisfaction. This is why you see nearly every new financial and healthcare try and embed video inside their new offerings. Other driving market factors include the advancement of WebRTC technology and standardization, and the growth of the API economy. What’s happening with APIs in AI are happening with video services APIs. Microsoft, IBM, Amazon.comand Google’s biggest announcements in 2016 were about the creation of AI APIs and, in a parallel way, this is happening in video services.
How does Vidyo.io work?
Vidyo’s stated goal of Vidyo.io is to make video embedding easy and quick for app developers and enterprises—with no deep technical knowledge of video coding actually required. Vidyo.io provides SDKs for web browsers (both WebRTC and plugin), Android, macOS and Windows operating systems with a consistent API, all without on-prem hosting. This, in theory, does two very important things—hastens time to market, and lowers development cost. This is all done through Vidyo.io’s Developer Portal that looks easy to use and developers can get started easily with a short online signup and self-service subscription. No credit card is needed to try the service out through their Demo App, and developers can give it a spin without writing a single line of code.
I believe the pricing is reasonable for this level of quality, security and reliability—the subscription is month-to-month, at $65/month, including 6,500 minutes of usage ($.01 for each minute over). As a bonus, new users get an additional 4,000 minutes upon signup. Online documentation is available, along with sample applications and easily-navigable usage dashboard. Users also have access to tools such as the Vidyo.io Discussion Forums, a Trouble Ticket Dashboard, and 3rd party tools like Github and StackOverflow. These tools, websites and forums are all live right now, not some promise of the future as others are saying
The amount of potential use cases for embedded video is wide-ranging and impressive. Like I mentioned earlier, video can greatly enhance customer engagement—troubleshooting support, financial advice, concierge services. I have talked with many companies personally, not just a wish or promise. When it comes to field services, it can also be a highly useful tool—think emergency response, field technician support, etc. Telehealth is also a big one (see my previous article here), with the potential to improve primary care and specialist referral services, remote patient monitoring, medical education, and disaster management. The last area I’ll mention is team collaboration in business. Video streaming can enable and enhance team meetings, content sharing, interviewing and recruiting, and corporate training. All these modern use cases can greatly benefit from video streaming, but only if it’s done better— which brings us to differentiation.
Is it really different and unique?
One of the big differentiators with Vidyo is that unlike other companies in this space, Vidyo was born in the enterprise—where priority and investment was and is still placed in areas such as reliability, security, quality, performance, and scale. Vidyo has repeatedly demonstrated its prowess in all these areas, which is why I believe the company is at the forefront of the industry today and is aligned with the leaders in healthcare, finance and defense.
In terms of reliability, the company boasts a 99.95% SLA and 20% Packet Loss Resilience (more than double the industry standard), and are fortified with a multi-carrier backbone. They also claim geographic redundancy, with automatically discovered access points all over the globe. Firewall traversal and resource management reduces connectivity issues, and boosts quality connections and uptimes, of particular importance for mobile platforms.
I personally use the service and Vidyo is also at the top of their game when it comes to quality of experience, with dynamic video adaptation, geo-localized connectivity, low-latency route optimization, and rapid response to regional demand. Their network architecture environments have the potential to leverage 4K and 5K displays—up to 16 times better than the industry average of 720p. I do many of my multi-party video calls in my car in parking lots and I still joke with Vidyo folks that I must be on the “golden network”. They assure me I’m not.
At the core of all these differentiators is Vidyo’s technology. Their Routing Core provides a highly reliable infrastructure– delivering low cost and low delay performance, with the potential for massive scalability. Their Dynamic Network Optimization delivers high performance and reliability, with error resilience and bandwidth efficiency through cascading. Video streams are optimized for any device, and are able to be delivered with excellent quality—even over low bandwidth connections. Last but not least, Vidyo boasts good endpoint support—multi-codec and optimized for mobile, across WebRTC and a continuum of devices.
Impressive array of large enterprise customers
A testament to the integrity of Vidyo’s technology is their impressive, growing customer list of market leaders. They’re the number one choice for the Department of Defense’s IT agency (read more here), and for American Well, a prominent healthcare app (more on telehealth here). When it comes to the financial realm, they can list Bloomberg (financial data) and NCR (a leading ATM manufacturer) as customers. Alibaba, a global ecommerce leader and Xiaomi, a fast-growing Chinese smartphone company, have also chosen Vidyo for their video-communication needs, as well as Genesys (a leading contact center), and West (a leader in audio conferencing).
Two recent customer testimonials stuck out to me for Vidyo.io, both from the realm of digital healthcare. OnCall Health, a company that provides remote consultations with healthcare providers, recently replaced a competing platform with Vidyo.io. OnCall said the competitor wasn’t delivering the quality or reliability OnCall Health needed, but according to CEO Nicholas Chepesiuk, they “were able to get back up and running with Vidyo.io” in less than a week—testimony to the ease of signup and deployment I mentioned earlier. PlusGuidance, a company that specializes in online counseling services, also recently replaced a lower quality competitor’s platform with Vidyo, and were able to get it running in about two weeks. CEO Nathaniel Smithies stated that the key difference for them was flexibility– “being able to easily embed video that performs well across different browsers.” With the changes happening in the national healthcare arena around the Affordable Care Act, and telehealth as the obvious way to provide “more for less”, I expect that developers from the largest healthcare providers and new start-ups will jump on Vidyo.io.
I think Vidyo.io’s launch to a general audience is a very exciting development, and I’m interested to see what happens now that their technology is opened up to all these new developers. Their Developer Portal makes signup, trial, and implementation a walk in the park, and all at a reasonable price. In the booming video market, CPaaS is the way of the future, and will have wide-ranging implications across many use cases (telehealth, business, customer service, you name it), and Vidyo, with their proven reliability, scalability, and quality, is right out there on the forefront.
I have to give Vidyo CEO Eran Westman a tip of the hat for jumping into the cloud in a big way and delivering VidyoCloud and now Vidyo.io in less than two years. Vidyo has been gobbling up enterprise leaders while Cisco Systems just announced another hardware endpoint with Spark Board. Twilio pursued a very different market and has proven the opportunity for a PaaS, and Vonage Nexmo are trying to follow, but multiparty video over mobile isn’t easy and neither has delivered a video offering. It’ll be interesting to see what happens with Vidyo.