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Virtuvent: Ensuring the Perfect Corporate Live Webcast

Virtuvent’s clients depend on them to deliver flawless webcasts to their audiences, often under immense pressure and at enormous scale. How could Virtuvent guarantee not only an engaging experience, but also a live broadcast without any embarrassing technical mishaps?

The Organization

Virtuvent is a video event services company that works mostly with large associations and enterprise customers to produce large-scale events—conventions, product launches, major internal communications events, large industry conferences, and more. Many of their Fortune 500 clients depend on them to ensure that these critical events go smoothly.

Their services include video production and AV services, encoding services, white-glove event support services, video transport over IP, fiber and satellite, and systems integration services (video hardware solutions).

While they currently produce a few hundred events per year, that number has been increasing recently. A lot of companies are moving away from their legacy video infrastructure (satellite or dedicated cable) and are starting to use IP delivery straight to devices through webcasting.



The Challenge

Traditionally, video event service companies like Virtuvent have done their own R&D in-house. But today, it’s increasingly difficult to compete in the market while meeting the enterprise grade requirements. Customers expect an engaging interface that doesn’t feel dated. Even more important, the reliability of the infrastructure is absolutely critical. Clients are not willing to tolerate failure, which embarrasses them in front of the very audience they’re trying to impress. Virtuvent needed a way to provide a slick, appealing webcasting experience with ways to engage audience members, while guaranteeing rock-solid reliability.



The Solution

Virtuvent chose to use Kaltura Webcasting as their webcasting platform of choice. “Kaltura has a very broad, mature product, with lots of API endpoints,” says Devin Drake, CEO. “Using Kaltura lets us stay on the cutting edge without having to manage product development in-house.”

The most important aspect to Virtuvent is the reliability of the infrastructure. Kaltura’s robust platform can be counted on to ensure success for the highest stakes productions, with multiple points of failover and fallback. This ensures that even if things go wrong, the audience will never notice a problem.

Another appealing aspect was the dual-stream feed that combines the slides and video into an interactive environment for the viewer. This allows users to toggle between feeds and to focus on what is important to them. The slides are automatically synced to the video. Producers can also later edit slides and update them, without any advanced video editing capabilities. “The way Kaltura handles slide synchronization and video inside a single player in a web browser,” says Drake. “They’re one of the few companies that tend to get this kind of tech right quickly.”

The Kaltura interface does not require any kind of plugin or downloads – aspects which can make it difficult for customers to access the webcast on all devices. Using a browser provides a smoother customer experience. Requiring plugins or downloads also creates security issues for large enterprise customers, who generally require all such downloads to be approved ahead of time by corporate IT. That’s part of why this style of broadcast platform is considered outdated and is increasingly deprecated.



“The scalability of the platform between different scales of events is a big win. We can use the same platform for smaller events and scale up to really large events with a couple hundred thousand viewers. We can do a single event with a single camera and one encoder, or we can handle industry events in stadiums, using the same platform. It’s pretty incredible.”
Devin Drake, CEO, Virtuvent

The Results

“In our line of work, a failure for five seconds is a complete failure. There’s not really a middle ground,” says Drake. “So in the few hundred events we ran in the last year, our success rate is over 98%.”

Some of Virtuvent’s clients in the past year have included:

  • Fortune 500 insurance company: This international organization uses live video broadly throughout the organization, running several webcasts a week. It’s become a key component of how they communicate with their employees across every region. As their primary form of information dissemination to employees, webcasts typically have thousands of viewers, with employees engaging in the Q&A. A small webcast might have 500 participants; larger consistently have upwards of 4000. They had traditionally been using AT&T voice conferencing and NASDAQ webcasting. Since switching to Virtuvent’s white glove services using Kaltura webcasting, the positive feedback from viewers and adoption across the organization has skyrocketed.
  • Global technology company. This tech organization, also part of the Fortune 500, had an event over the summer that was watched simultaneously by more than 20,000 employees worldwide, mostly inside the organization firewall. With so many far-flung sites, delivering a quality broadcast over the customer’s own network without crippling that network with delays was a major challenge that using Kaltura’s technology overcame. This particular event was an example of an extremely sophisticated operation, a multi-camera shoot with motion cameras and high-end broadcasting encoders under the direction of a veteran production team. The internationally-renowned CEO’s address to his employees went flawlessly, thanks to Virtuvent’s handling of the tech component of the broadcast.
  • U.S. cybersecurity company. This technology company uses webcasting for many corporate townhalls, but their big worry this past year was their annual industry conference. They had invited a major tech celebrity to join them onstage and expected a huge number of viewers as a result. To fail would have had fairly dire PR consequences. Trusting Virtuvent to run their onsite encoding and deliver on the technology side for all the live streaming panned out. The event was a huge success.


“We’re delivering a service in real-time, live. There’s very little margin for error. If something goes wrong, we have only minutes or maybe even seconds to fix it. Webcasting is as much about trust and reliability as it is about features. Kaltura and their team can be relied on, which is just as important.”
Devin Drake, CEO, Virtuvent

Conclusion

“I think the market is in its infancy,” says Drake. Virtuvent has had to go through purchasing cycles with enterprise organizations as they upgrade their networks, as they start to realize they need to get better and more interesting with the ways they communicate with their people. At many companies, as older employees retire and are replaced with younger ones, companies are trying to find better ways to engage those younger employees. Companies are looking to video to address this.

Virtuvent reports seeing the demand for using live video increasing very rapidly. From a market perspective, Drake doesn’t really see momentum slowing down. “A lot of this is really happening only in the last five years,” he says. “We’re excited to see how interactive video tech is going to advance the product.”

In the last year, partially thanks to Kaltura’s robust platform, Virtuvent has experienced 0% churn. “Most customers end up treating us as a true partner,” Drake says. “This is not something they want to do end-to-end in-house. It’s not part of their core business, but they know it’s important to keep doing. They want to lean on a partner so they can keep doing it, while focusing on their core business. Kaltura has helped us be that partner.”



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