Earlier this year, Vidyo announced that Bloomberg selected it to provide the enabling technology for Nexi, Bloomberg’s new global communications platform that enables the company’s employees to connect over video with each other and the rest of the world.
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So, I decided to dig a bit deeper into Bloomberg’s decision to use Vidyo and talked with the man responsible for the integration: Jeff Fairbanks, Global Head of AV and Media Technology, Technical Operations at Bloomberg.
I asked Fairbanks if he could describe Bloomberg’s use of video and provide some historical context for why the technology is so important today.
Although Fairbanks joined Bloomberg in 2013, the company has had a video-first culture for decades. Michael Bloomberg became interested in video in 1987 when the technology was in its infancy. The company tried a number of different enabling technologies, including ISDN and microwave antennas on trucks, but found all of them unreliable. Despite the challenges, Bloomberg plowed forward with the vision of ubiquitous video.
After about a decade, the company had a handful of hardware-based systems, but the utilization was low because the end points were difficult to use. The company wanted to expand the use of video and shifted to a desktop solution.
Video was put on desktops in 2008, and utilization took off. It peaked in 2013 when the existing technology reached its limit and productivity became impacted. For example, every day when utilization was high, the system would become overwhelmed and fail. Also, the existing solution had a physical limitation on users, far below the 17,000 employees at Bloomberg.
Fairbanks was hired to find a new solution that could meet the needs of the organization now, as well as into the future. Given the strategic importance of this initiative, Fairbanks was open to looking at any solution that could meet the organization’s needs and not just what the incumbent vendor offered.
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Fairbanks looked at every possible solution from every video vendor. In addition to being able to scale to the over 17,000 users, the solution had to meet some other requirements. Bloomberg wanted a solution that was completely customized and offered a unique experience. Also, the solution should allow users to easily change screen layouts, as well as be able to pop content up on another worker’s screen for easier collaboration.
What to choose?
After looking at all of the solutions, Fairbanks had three options:
Continue to use the incumbent vendor and do nothing. This was obviously the least-expensive option because the only cost would be maintaining the system. This wasn’t practical, though, as the solution already had some scale issues and did not allow for any kind of personalization.
Upgrade to the incumbent vendor’s new architecture. This would have met the requirement for the number of users, but it did not provide the ability to pop up content or change layouts on the client.
Change to Vidyo. It was the only solution that met all of Bloomberg’s requirements. Moving to Vidyo and away from the incumbent required an up-front cost, but that did not matter. Bloomberg wanted something that met the company’s requirements, and the Vidyo solution was the only option that did.
Initially Fairbanks discounted Vidyo because the vendor seemed to be closed and proprietary. There was also a perception of risk because Vidyo is smaller than the other solution providers.
A trial run of Vidyo’s solution put Fairbanks’ concerns to rest, however, and he selected it. Some of the benefits it offers:
Integrated collaboration features into Nexi using the VidyoWorks platform. VidyoWorks enables the embedding of point-to-point and multipoint video, audio and content sharing and collaboration into Nexi.
A customized Bloomberg experience instead of being forced to use the vendor’s application.
The ability to scale to all 17,000 employees with no performance degradation. Now, every employee can enjoy the benefits of Nexi.
Also, the solution deployed quickly. The entire process took nine months from contract signing to full deployment across Bloomberg’s 192 offices in 73 countries.
The implementation of Vidyo in Nexi was smooth, and user satisfaction has been high. There haven’t been any performance issues despite the increased volume.
Specifically, Fairbanks provided these data points to illustrate the solution’s performance:
There is now three times the number of video users, but the whole solution uses less bandwidth than before.
Bloomberg now averages more Vidyo calls in a week than the company did in a month with the legacy solution. The company call volume is in the millions in the past six months. Fairbanks said Vidyo was willing to listen to his feedback and liked how the companies partnered on the final solution, which now includes strong security and other infrastructure enhancements.
Vidyo also minimizes the impact on the WAN and can be flexibly deployed in a variety of network topologies, which optimizes the video for quality. It can be deployed in a geographically distributed fashion that allows for localization of traffic to certain regions. By using intelligent cascading technology, inter-region traffic is minimized to a single video call’s worth of bandwidth between regions, reducing the total traffic load on the WAN. This is similar to a CDN but optimized for real-time, low-latency, two-way video communications.
Today, use of Nexi is pervasive across Bloomberg, users are happy and video utilization is at an all-time high. Fairbanks was successful because he did his homework and chose the best solution for his organization instead of making the easy decision of staying with the incumbent.