Video and the Virtual Desktop – Problem Solved

Many companies in industries such as Financial Services, Healthcare and Government deploy virtual desktop environments with the aim of closely managing network security and user access, centralizing desktop management and delivering a uniform user experience for their employees. However, video delivery and consumption on virtualized environments is challenging. Vbrick and Citrix have worked together solve the problem with a solution to securely and efficiently deliver high definition video on virtual desktops. To read our full press release , click here.

Challenges with Existing Solutions:

Video and other media delivery in a virtualized environment is inefficient and network intensive on virtual servers. In scenarios where thousands of users are watching live or VOD video content simultaneously from their virtual desktop, the virtual servers will overload the server resources.

To solve this video delivery problem, virtual desktop solutions have attempted to optimize the delivery by fetching and rendering only the video region (element) of the webpage directly on the user’s thin client/receiver. The remainder of the webpage content continues being rendered from the virtual desktop server. This approach used Flash and proprietary software packs to enable video delivery and rendering directly on the user’s thin client. This solution is called Flash or video redirection.

 

Though Flash and Video redirection worked for some time, it is becoming dated and out of step with the latest HTML5 technology.  The approach of only rendering the video region (video element) directly on the thin client while having the remainder of the webpage rendered from the virtual desktop can cause synchronization issues between the video and the rest of the webpage.  It also causes issues if there are non-video components that need to be overlayed on top of the video; closed captioning and player controls for example. The Flash redirect solution also lacks support for Adaptive (or multi) bit rate streaming. In today’s video-centric world, adaptive streaming is an important capability as it ensures that the most appropriate level of video quality is delivered to end users based on their  network conditions. A final challenge with Flash redirection is that Adobe has announced the end of life (EOL) for Flash by 2020.  As a result, video playback using Flash technology and Flash redirection is also expected to reach end of life next year.

Next Generation Solution:

Browser Content Redirection (BCR) 2.0 is a new feature introduced in Citrix XenApp/XenDesktop v7.16. It allows seamless redirection of the entire browser content area (a.k.a. viewport) to the Citrix client (known as the receiver) for selected webpages or domains.

The viewport displays the content outlined in the rectangular area of your browser seen in the image below. It does not include things like the address bar, favorites toolbar, or the status bar.

Browser Content Redirection provides Vbrick complete control of Rev’s content display using HTML5 technology including HTML5 video player. It also allows Vbrick to serve multi-bit rate HLS video directly on the receiver. With this solution there is no functional loss or compromise to deliver high quality video and other rich media content.

Vbrick Multicast on Citrix:

Rev also supports Browser Content Redirection for Vbrick Multicast that provides supports for multicast delivery of the video and playback using HTML5 player. This requires the Vbrick Multicast agent to be installed on the Citrix receiver.

Vbrick Rev Zoning for Citrix:

With Browser Content Redirection enabled, Rev receives the IP address of the receiver and Rev applies the zoning using the IP of the receiver. If the Vbrick’s Distributed Media Engine (DME) User Location IP Service (ULS) is enabled, Rev will use the ULS service to get the client IP of the receiver and Rev will use this for zoning and directing the user to the nearest and most efficient network delivery path for the video.

Thanks to Citrix and Vbrick, virtual environment users can now enjoy secure, scalable and high performance video content and their companies can still enjoy the security of control of their virtual environments – problem solved.