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Sienna Cloud Blog #5

14th September 2017, London


Comparing Sienna Cloud for NDI with the Alternatives

Sending video over long distance connections is nothing new - people have been using a variety of technologies to do this for years. So what exactly is Sienna Cloud for NDI offering that didn't already exist ?  In this blog entry, I will investigate other options and see how Cloud for NDI stacks up.


So, in general, apart from Cloud for NDI what other methods exist to send video from A to B over long distances ?


1) Pairs of Hardware Devices with SDI or HDMI inputs and outputs

2) Skype TX Boxes

3) WebRTC (VMix Call, etc)

4) Traditional Streaming boxes like Wowza

5) Satellite

6) Dedicated Fiber


Discussion of the Options

1) Hardware Devices, for example Haivision or Matrox encoders

There are a couple of obvious considerations here:

- Cost : these boxes are typically quite expensive and you need one each end per stream.

- Configuration : you need to create dedicated routed pathways for each stream and program each box at both ends.

- Deployment : you need to physically ship or carry boxes to remote locations before configuring them on site

- Latency : this one is arguable, but many hardware boxes have relatively high latency, and none offer multicam resynchronisation.

- No support for synchronised Fill and Key


2) Skype TX Boxes

Skype TX is pretty easy to setup and use, but there is no control over quality or bandwidth meaning you are at the mercy of the skype algorithms that were built for consumer video calls.  The boxes are also relatively expensive and you have to physically ship them and configure on site.

- Physical Installation

- Indeterminate Quality, Bandwidth and Latency

- No support for synchronised Fill and Key

- No support for multicam synchronisation


3) WebRTC

This is an interesting one - WebRTC is Google's answer to video conferencing, using 'chatrooms' with IDs to bring together remote video sources. In some WebRTC systems each 'chatroom' is effectively public which means that anyone with the ID of the room can access all the video in the room.  Like Skype TX you typically have little control over quality or bandwidth so its up to Google how things will look.

- Indeterminate Quality, Bandwidth and Latency

- No support for synchronised Fill and Key

- No support for multicam synchronisation

- Commonly uses central TURN relay server, often compromising performance and latency.

- If outgoing port to TURN or STUN server is blocked, connectivity may be impossible.


4) Wowza

Most people will realise that using an end-consumer streaming box for media contributions is not going to be ideal. The main issue will be significant latency.

- High Latency

- No support for synchronised Fill and Key

- No support for multicam synchronisation


5) Satellite

Historically, satellite was how this sort of thing was done in broadcast. However there are many factors which lead users away from this.

- High Cost

- Need to pre-book limited availability

- High Latency

- Requirement for Dish, and dedicated hardware at both ends

- No support for synchronised Fill and Key

- No support for multicam synchronisation


6) Dedicated Fiber

Direct Fiber connections have become common for high end broadcast connectivity over short ranges and are becoming more common for long haul. High cost and considerable effort, pre planning and expense are needed for installation. However, dedicated Fibre can carry good quality signals over a low (fixed) latency connection.

- High Cost

- Expensive installation, limited locations

- Requirement for dedicated hardware at both ends


7) Sienna Cloud for NDI

Cloud for NDI has a low deployment and zero operation cost, complete control over connection, bandwidth and quality, latency and multicam resynchronisation. It supports combined fill and key in a single connection, ensuring sync, plus multichannel, phase-coherent audio in each stream. Centralised configuration and native NDI integration round out an unbeatable set of features.   Its a professional solution custom developed for high quality broadcast backhaul - not a re-purposed consumer video conferencing solution  Sienna Cloud offers fully private groups between your nodes, as well as the option for 'shared' groups protected by a password. Another major benefit of Sienna.Cloud for NDI is that all the sources advertised are delivered 'on-demand' which means that a node can advertise dozens of NDI Sources to the other nodes, without incurring any CPU hit.;  It's not until an NDI devices in another node explicitly connects to the  source - that processing begins. This is a *major* consideration for scaling infrastructure. Other solutions require all or some of the processing to be always running to enable connection - seriously limiting the maximum number of advertised sources and massively limiting scalability.


With the Master / Slave mode, a reliable direct connection is always possible, ensuring confidence to setup anywhere where internet connection has sufficient bandwidth and guarantee a good direct, connection, regardless of how aggressive the local firewall is. This is a massive fundamental differentiator for Sienna.Cloud compared to solutions using WebRTC.


Comparison with Cloud for NDI

It seems like the pros and cons come down to a few basic things:


- Installation Cost

- Operational Cost

- Ability to remotely deploy

- Quality / Bandwidth

- Control of connection infrastructure

- Latency

- Multicam Sync

- Support for Fill and Key

- Remote PTZ Control

- Easy Scalability


The table below attempts to summarise and compare the options.




Cloud for NDI offers the best mix of unique functionality and power, combined with very low cost and ease of deployment. Dont forget scalability, where software based solutions win out easily over hardware. See the diagram below for a more detailed comparison of Sienna Cloud and WebRTC.


More Blog Entries...


  Sienna Cloud for NDI Hardware Encoder Skype TX WebRTC Wowza Satellite Fibre
Installation Cost 0 $$$$ $$$$ $$ $$$$ $$$$$$$ $$$$$$$
Operational Cost* very low 0 0 ?? 0 / $$ $$$$$ $$$$$
Remote Deployment YES NO NO YES NO NO NO
Control of Quality  YES YES NO NO YES YES YES
Control of Infrastructure YES YES NO NO YES YES YES
* Excludes basic cost of Internet Connection and bandwidth