MediaEvent Services Launches Innovative Webcasting Service on AWS, Sees 20x Growth
Founded in 1999, MediaEvent Services (MES), a live webcasting company, arrived just in time for the first live streams of big events in 2000. The company initially provided professional services to live stream customers’ events. Then, as MES saw a growing trend in customers wanting to use the technology to stream live events on their own, it began developing a cloud-based self-service webcast platform, SlideSync, using Amazon Web Services (AWS).
Launched in 2016, SlideSync helps users to create massive live streaming events for viewers worldwide by using a suite of AWS services, including Amazon CloudFront, a fast, highly secure, and programmable content delivery network. “AWS has helped us to grow and scale quickly,” says Christian Becker, chief technology officer of MES. “What distinguishes us from our competition is that we keep innovating with our own webcast platform.” During the COVID-19 pandemic, MES used the agility of its AWS infrastructure to innovate and deploy new services to its customers.
Amazon CloudFront is located throughout the world. No matter where attendees are located, there are local Amazon CloudFront edge locations that can provide video in high definition.”
Christian Becker, chief technology officer, MediaEvent Services
Achieving High Video Quality and Scalability on AWS
MediaEvent Services’ direct accounts are predominantly located in the DACH market—Germany, Austria, and Switzerland. But it has signed up several heavy-weight resellers that use its software-as-a-service platform, SlideSync, to provide live webcasting services to clients throughout Europe and the world. In 2007, MES began building on AWS because of its scalability. Previously, the company used its on-premises infrastructure to host live events. But for major live events—requiring its services to scale from 0 percent to virtually 100 percent in seconds to support more than 50,000 viewers—MES now relies on AWS. “That is simply not possible using any other type of infrastructure,” says Becker.
On AWS, SlideSync has seen its traffic increase more than 2,000 percent year over year. And only one staff member needs to be on standby for up to 30 daily events, each with thousands of attendees. For MES, a company of 22 employees, these accomplishments wouldn’t be possible without AWS services and support.
For SlideSync, MES uses Amazon CloudFront to deliver media assets, including live streams, recorded streams, and presentation images. The company was using a competitor but migrated to Amazon CloudFront after extensively testing its performance and reliability. Now when companies migrate from a competitor to SlideSync, they immediately notice the high video quality. “The advantage of Amazon CloudFront is that it is located throughout the world,” says Becker. “No matter where attendees are located, there are local Amazon CloudFront edge locations that can provide video in high definition.” When SlideSync’s increased traffic led to a correlating spike in spending, AWS guided the teams from MES on private pricing so that MES could pay a certain price for a certain usage level. “As a result, we received substantially more favorable pricing,” Becker explains.
MES manages the high computational costs of live transcoding on SlideSync by using Amazon Elastic Container Service (Amazon ECS), a fully managed container orchestration service. For each live stream, SlideSync provides the image in both high-definition quality and in five lower-quality levels so that users can stream it on a lower bandwidth or mobile connection. Live transcoding is the process of preparing content in each level of quality in real time. When SlideSync nears its capacity for live transcoding, it starts the launch of new container-based transcoders that can take on new live streams. MES uses Amazon ECS to automate that process, delivering a new transcoder in less than 20 seconds. “We can not only scale up how many attendees we have but also how many users are producing live events,” explains Becker.
Taking Advantage of Agility and Innovation on AWS
Using AWS helped MES to be more agile during the COVID-19 pandemic. As in-person meetings became impossible, even regulated meetings such as Annual General Meetings moved online. MES partnered with leading shareholder registries in the DACH region to embed SlideSync events for accredited shareholders. It supported close to 40 virtual Annual General Meetings of major corporations on its platform in 2020, including a pivotal extraordinary general meeting for the airline Lufthansa.
On AWS, MES can also offer high security to its customers. AWS infrastructure helps address customers’ concerns about data protection, which facilitates the process of signing on new customers to MES services. “For many new customers, our use of AWS accelerates the sign-on process to just days because of the readily available security and compliance reports,” says Becker. This process happens through AWS Artifact, which provides on-demand access to AWS security and compliance reports. MES also benefits from the global footprint of AWS. “Leading up to Brexit, and also with the recent Privacy Shield invalidation, we’ve had many discussions with clients about how and where we process data,” Becker continues. “On AWS we can specify where we want to do that.”
On AWS, MES has shortened its time to market for new services and has gained room to experiment and optimize. “Any AWS service helps us to focus our development resources on key differentiating features and to prototype solutions to see if they make sense,” explains Becker. For example, MES uses Amazon Simple Email Service (Amazon SES), a cost-effective, highly scalable cloud email service, to drive higher deliverability and protect its sender reputation. “If there’s a service that AWS offers, it usually doesn’t make sense to try to replicate it on your own,” Becker says.
Deploying Innovative New Offerings on AWS
By taking advantage of AWS services, MES was able to support exponential growth of its unique software-as-a-service live webcasting solution, SlideSync, and it was able to provide innovative services to its customers in unprecedented times. “Our customers know that if they choose us, they will keep up with technological development,” says Becker. “And using AWS helps us to do that.”
In January 2021, MES modernized SlideSync’s video conferencing infrastructure using Amazon Chime SDK, a set of real-time communications components that developers can use to quickly add messaging, audio, video, and screen sharing capabilities to web or mobile applications. With onsite video production no longer feasible during the COVID-19 pandemic, SlideSync is now able to support multiple remote speakers through a low-latency Chime conference, which it can mix and stream to attendees. Amazon Chime SDK has zero maintenance costs, whereas the company’s previous open-source solution required expensive efforts.
In 2021, the company also plans to build live transcription and translation into its platform using Amazon Transcribe, which developers can use to add speech-to-text capabilities to applications, and Amazon Translate, which delivers fast, high-quality, and affordable language translation. “Economically speaking, it did not make sense for us to develop this feature on our own,” says Becker. “AWS, providing an increasing number of building blocks, gives us the innovative technological edge we need.”
About MediaEvent Services
Founded in 1999, MediaEvent Services is a live webcasting company. Using SlideSync, the company’s software-as-a-service platform, organizations can live stream events to tens of thousands of viewers worldwide.
Benefits of AWS
• Sustains more than 50,000 live attendees per event
• Creates ad-hoc live events through self-service with instant scaling
• Integrated new video conferencing technology in 2 months
• Streamlines process of signing new customers due to strong data protection
• Needs only 1 staff member daily to oversee up to 30 large live events
• Delivers a new transcoder in less than 20 seconds
• Hosted 40 virtual Annual General Meetings for customers
AWS Services Used
Amazon CloudFront is a fast content delivery network (CDN) service that securely delivers data, videos, applications, and APIs to customers globally with low latency, high transfer speeds, all within a developer-friendly environment.
Amazon Elastic Container Service (Amazon ECS)
Amazon ECS is a fully managed container orchestration service that helps you easily deploy, manage, and scale containerized applications.
AWS Chime SDK
The Amazon Chime SDK is a set of real-time communications components that developers can use to quickly add audio, video, and screen sharing capabilities to their own web or mobile applications.
Amazon Simple Email Service
Amazon SES is a cost-effective, flexible, and scalable email service that helps developers to send mail from within any application.
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