Web administrators who are looking to integrate video and multimedia applications into their enterprises should give QuickVideo OnDemand (QVOD), version 4.0, from InfoValue Computing some serious attention. This video-enabling software -- the latest release of the company's flagship video-streaming software for Windows NT environments -- doesn't require expensive hardware and supports all of the major video formats. Best of all, it will scale as your hardware and networking infrastructure changes.
Targeting corporate intranets and extranets, QVOD provides client workstations with simultaneous access to digital video resources across an IP-based network. The enhancements offered in version 4.0 -- which include improved speed and performance, better IP support, and increased scalability -- make it worthy of consideration.
QVOD employs a client/server model: The server runs as an NT kernel service, using NT's IP stack to stream out video packets. A server console application provides a continuously updating snapshot of streaming statistics, which include average data rate and videos played, broken down by workstation. Unfortunately, the console program must run on the QVOD server itself and cannot be accessed remotely.
Video-on-demand systems typically cause complaints due to slow delivery performance. To address this, InfoValue has incorporated its proprietary QuickVideo Streaming Protocol (QVSTP) into the QVOD Server. With the appropriate high-speed networking infrastructure in place (Fast Ethernet or FDDI, for example), a QVOD Server can achieve speeds as fast as a whopping 480Mbit/sec -- which is roughly the equivalent of 300 simultaneous MPEG-1 videos -- from a single NT server.
To its benefit, QVOD 4.0 scraps its predecessors' use of raw Media Access Control packets for video delivery, and instead uses standard IP packets. This transition affords the software a more open architecture and better compatibility with typical IP networks.
In my tests, QVOD made excellent use of the network bandwidth it was allocated without over-saturating network segments and impacting overall network performance. However, it pays to heed InfoValue's networking guidelines. For instance, serving up more than five video streams on a standard Ethernet segment could cause some problems.
To achieve high performance levels, the QVOD Client software must be installed manually on each workstation participating in video feeds. Because the software does not have built-in support for remote installations, you will have to use a third-party product to install it remotely. Although this manual installation may be a substantial task for some sites, the end result is worth the short-term installation work.
Client components include a virtual protocol stack and a client-control application that allows you to control and monitor the driver as well as keeping on top of potential transmission errors. Once the client QVSTP driver was installed, it will automatically service files with .avi, .dat, .mpg, .mov, .mp2, .vob, and .wav extensions. The client-control program allows you to add new extensions or remove existing ones from the mix.
QVOD 4.0 is best-suited for sites that have high-speed networking infrastructures in place. I recommend this program for its versatility of support and for the performance benefits that can be achieved.
Todd Coopee (email@example.com) is a senior consultant at Specialized Communications, in OttawaThe bottom line: VERY GOODAimed at intranet and extranet applications, this video-enabling software uses improved streaming technology to deliver concurrent video streams to client desktops over an IP network.
Pros: Easy setup; IP compatible; scalableCons: Lacks capability for remote monitoringwww.infovalue.comPrice: $US2000 plus $US250 per seatPlatforms: QVOD Server: Windows NT Workstation and Server 3.51 or later. QVOD Client: Windows 95, Windows 98, or Windows NT