Media Startup Launches Quickly, Prepares for Growth Using Cost-Effective Cloud Solution
UK media startup nideo had a powerful vision: enabling companies to engage with their business audiences by sharing video content. To turn this into reality, the company needed to quickly build a scalable, cost-effective, and easy-to-use web-based platform. By using Windows Azure and cloud computing, nideo has created the flexible infrastructure to run its business now while providing the future foundation to meet its ambitious growth targets.
"Our whole business is based on Windows Azure and we have full confidence that it will scale with us. It … enables us to deliver on our mission to connect the global business community through video."
Video provides organizations with the power to engage with, inform, and inspire business audiences.
Because existing online video providers focused on consumers, UK startup nideo launched a service specifically tailored to the needs of businesses. By using nideo, companies can share content with their business networks through an easy-to-use fast service that supports their business objectives.
nideo’s video platform is central to its operations, so selecting technology was critical to success. nideo had three business needs that it had to meet: fast time-to-market, scalability, and cost-effectiveness.
Speed is vital to a startup. nideo needed to develop its idea and launch as quickly as possible in order to grasp the business opportunity before the competition did. The company wanted to focus on developing its offering and getting it to market, rather than on building an IT infrastructure to support operations.
nideo is essentially creating a new market, meaning that the potential global opportunity is vast. The video platform therefore had to seamlessly scale as the customer base increases without affecting operations or adding to management time.
Finally, the solution had to match the company’s budget, delivering a cost-effective platform that minimized up-front capital investment.
“We had to make the right decision when it came to technology; it is essential to realizing our vision and the success of our business,” says Matthew Munson, Chief Technology Officer, nideo. “Our users expect the same rich, interactive capabilities as on consumer video websites, so we needed a platform that will grow with us and enable us to deliver a compelling and engaging experience time after time.”
With speed and scalability vital, nideo knew that it required a cloud-based infrastructure, but one that met its specific needs for managing video content. It had to be easy to use and reliable, now and in the future. Through market research, nideo narrowed its choices to two options: Windows Azure or a hosted system involving multiple providers. The combination of the technology and infrastructure strength of Microsoft and the capabilities of Windows Azure made the final decision a simple one.
“When we considered the alternatives, the cost and scalability of Windows Azure made the choice a no-brainer,” says Munson. “Windows Azure gives us confidence in the cloud because it provides access to an infrastructure that is already set up, along with simple-to-use, powerful media encoding services. Choosing Microsoft meant we didn’t have to waste time bolting components together or adding more resources. It was the easiest and most obvious solution for us.”
To build its solution, nideo chose to work with Microsoft partner IMGROUP due to its breadth of skills, which span the cloud, media, agile development, and hosting. Configuring and testing services in Windows Azure took just a day, compared with an estimated month for a system with multiple providers.
The nideo solution in Windows Azure provides the total infrastructure required to run the business. The scalable solution uses Windows Azure Media Services to upload, encode, convert, and stream video content to users across multiple devices, from PCs and laptops to smartphones and tablets. Built-in monitoring delivers insight into resource usage, enabling real-time capacity planning that optimizes the infrastructure and keeps operating costs under control.
The cloud-based solution is central to nideo’s business and its growth plans. In its first three months, the nideo website has achieved more than 20,000 monthly page views. Visitors are coming from around the world: while 70 percent are from Europe, Asia and the Americas are delivering significant traffic. And many of those visitors are now signing up with nideo for their video content delivery.
Windows Azure and its combination of high performance, scalability, and ease of management has underpinned the company’s successful launch and fast expansion.
“The nideo website and the infrastructure behind it is the public face of our business. Since we launched, the website has seamlessly run 24 hours a day, seven days a week, with the platform enabling us to meet changing customer needs in real time,” says Munson. “If we want to change anything, we just click a slider to increase or decrease capacity—it really is that simple to manage.”
The ability to monitor operations and garner real-time business insight allows nideo to not only optimize infrastructure and control costs, but also to understand more about its users and forecast future demand.
While a young business, nideo has ambitious plans. It aims to quadruple its total number of users and increase content by 750 percent in the coming six months. The website is evolving, with regular updates to deepen functionality and a longer-term strategy to create a version of the solution that can be rebranded by other organizations. nideo knows that its cloud-based infrastructure has the capacity to grow with the organization.
As James Hakesley, nideo Chief Operating Officer, says, “Our whole business is based on Windows Azure and we have full confidence that it will scale with us. It provides the foundation for our strategy and enables us to deliver on our mission to connect the global business community through video.”