We are increasingly hearing from Microsoft customers who looked to adopt Microsoft Stream as their enterprise video platform and ended up finding some shortfalls that prevented its adoption for enterprise-wide use.
It is a natural thought for an IT team to look to Microsoft Stream as they often have already purchased Office 365 for their company and Office 365 includes a license for Microsoft Stream. Effectively they enter their evaluation and selection with the feeling that Microsoft Stream is “free”. Unfortunately, as is often the case, the old adages are still true; you only get what you pay for or the other popular adage that nothing is free in life.
We are by no means anti-Microsoft here at Vbrick. Microsoft is a great company, it makes some excellent products, and some of our own team members are Microsoft Alumni. In fact, we offer rich integrations between Vbrick’s Rev Enterprise Video Platform (EVP) and Office 365 SharePoint and Microsoft Teams.
That said, when it comes to enterprise video, and more specifically providing your entire enterprise with an enterprise-wide video solution, the customers who evaluated Microsoft Stream recommended paying particular attention to the level of functionality your company might need around: enterprise-grade content distribution, internal and external sharing, security and content governance capabilities. They found that Microsoft Stream lacked some key capabilities their companies required in these important areas, which limited its use primarily to internal-only department-scale scenarios.
Some of these limitations have led Microsoft Stream customers to adopt Vbrick’s Rev Enterprise Video Platform alongside their Office 365 investment.
Here are six areas our customers advise companies to consider as they look to adopt an enterprise video platform for enterprise-wide deployment:
1. The devil’s in the details when it comes to Free
One of the challenges companies are having with Microsoft Stream is that it does not include an integrated enterprise video content distribution capability (eCDN). Instead, Microsoft relies on their customers to purchase that capability from one of several approved partners such as Kollective Technologies and Hive Streaming.
For these customers, Stream, ceased to be the “easy solution” as they worked to license and deploy these third party solutions along with Microsoft Stream. It often resulted in project delays, increased costs and more importantly, a lack of transparency, visibility and necessary end-to-end analytics into the success and failures of video distribution.
These customers found Stream could work well for departmental scenarios and smaller live events. However, large scale video distribution scenarios with thousands of people, such as distributing a live stream to their entire company, were challenged by heavy reliance on 3rd party eCDN vendors.
By comparison, the Vbrick Rev Platform offers a fully integrated EVP solution with an integrated eCDN from a single vendor that optimizes the delivery of video content. An integrated offering allows you to focus on getting your message across rather than have to worry about bandwidth issues or the need to coordinate and work with multiple vendors. Rev’s eCDN includes a portfolio of distribution options to meet any need, from the smallest branch offices to the largest corporate headquarters.
2. Video often needs to go beyond the Walled-Off Garden
Many Enterprises have a need to share video content internally and externally with customers, partners or the public at large. One area of feedback from Microsoft Stream customers looking to adopt Vbrick Rev was the inability for Microsoft Stream to share content with users outside of a company’s users. All users needed to be defined and managed within the company’s active directory and licensed as Office 365 users.
In fact, this walled-off garden concern also surfaces at other layers of the platform where these customers felt “locked-in” by the lack of a public Stream API for customers to manage and retrieve their own video content.
This limitation forces these companies to look for additional solutions to handle these collaboration, public external video sharing and public webcast events scenarios. In addition to some of the cost and management challenges mentioned above for dealing with 3rd party eCDN vendors, having 3rd party solutions for public sharing and webcasts also presents challenges in complexity for end users who now have to learn multiple products and solutions to address their entire set of video sharing and webcast use cases.
These customers adopted Vbrick Rev for its ability to handle all internal and external video scenarios from a single platform with a unified user experience, something they found lacking from Microsoft Stream today.
3. Video is a key Enterprise data asset that needs to abide by Security, Compliance and Governance requirements
For many enterprises, video content is a key knowledge asset that needs to be managed and governed like other company data assets. Compliance teams look for specific capabilities around video approval workflows and legal holds to ensure that video content is properly vetted before use and sharing across an enterprise, lest sensitive company IP be inadvertently or intentionally shared with the wrong parties or in the case of public scenarios, inadvertently exposing the company to copyright violations.
For many of these customers, they found that Microsoft Stream did not offer the depth of functionality required around approval workflows and legal holds that their compliance teams would require for enterprise-wide adoption.
Vbrick Rev offers a rich set of capabilities around security, governance and compliance ranging from its role-based access control security model through to its flexible and fully customizable content approval workflows and built-in legal hold capabilities. For these reasons, Vbrick Rev has become a natural choice for large enterprises who need to ensure they meet the compliance requirements for their companies.
4. Digital transformation requires reaching every employee
In order to reach every employee within an enterprise, it is critically important to meet them where they work and live, or more precisely on the browsers, devices and applications they use day in and day out. In their evaluation of Microsoft Stream, some of these customers found that Stream only supported a limited number of popular browsers and more specifically did not officially support Firefox, a browser in use at many companies.
No matter how hard IT teams work to standardize to one or two browsers, users continue to use their “favorite” browser. As a result, it is important to adopt an enterprise video platform with broad support for the most popular browsers and mobile devices.
Browser compatibility and testing is a key investment area for the Vbrick Rev Product team and as of this writing, we support the following browsers and mobile browsers:
- Internet Explorer
- Google Chrome
- Edge and Edge Chromium
- Safari for iOS
- Chrome for Android and iOS
Vbrick also ensures we can reach employees directly in the applications they use day in and day out with a rich collection of integrations with popular portal solutions, collaboration applications and video conferencing solutions, including Office 365’s Microsoft Teams.
5. Enterprise video deserves a branded, customizable and flexible experience
Enterprise video experiences often have to be tailored or branded to meet the needs of the company, individual teams or in some case the needs of an individual webcast event or video. It is important to look at the depth of support for branding and customization that a platform offers in evaluating an Enterprise Video Platform.
Customers indicated such capability gaps were preventing broad platform adoption. The Stream branding experience is tied directly to the selected Office 365 theme, which does not provide the flexibility to tailor the experience and branding for the video experiences.
For example, your sales team wants to customize the video experience for their team or their upcoming quarterly spring meeting. If the team was using Microsoft Stream, they would have to change the entire company’s Office 365 theme in order to effect the branding of the video experiences.
The Vbrick Rev Platform gives you full control over the branding and customization of the overall video platform experience and offers branding and customization options for individual teams and individual webcast events. Additionally, Rev offers a rich public REST API that allows for the creation of truly bespoke video experiences for enterprise users.
6. Success hinges on end to end visibility and analytics
The success of an enterprise video platform relies on providing users a great user experience, helping them find the most relevant content quickly and efficiently, and most importantly, requires the ability to view that video content. Gauging that success and supporting the successful operation of that platform relies on analytics and most importantly end-to-end analytics that provide visibility and transparency from “first video frame coming in” to the “last frame of video going out”.
It is critical for the IT teams to have ready access to analytics about the health, adoption and usage of the enterprise video platform in both real-time and for historical analysis.
One challenge associated with Microsoft Stream’s reliance on third Party eCDNs is that Stream does not provide a unified view of the entire video experience and does not currently offer real-time operational webcast analytics.
Thanks to the feedback and guidance from our own customers, the Vbrick Rev Platform offers both historical and a rich real-time webcast analytics capability with visibility into both video content distribution and the end user experience under a single pane of glass. This has been and continues to be a key area of investment for the Rev Product team.
Choosing The Right Enterprise Video Platform
Many of the Microsoft Stream customers we spoke with had rather logically hoped Stream could work for their enterprise video platform needs. After all, the service came with their Office 365 account and would be an easy option to choose.
It turns out it was not the easy solution many of those customers had hoped for.
As was described in this article, there are key enterprise requirements around content distribution, external access, security, governance and compliance that an IT team should keep in mind as they approach selecting and adopting an Enterprise Video Platform. The wrong choice can unfortunately cost you time, money, and reputation.
You can learn more about enterprise video platforms and the Vbrick Rev Enterprise Video Platform here.