Using Amazon EFS allows us to simply ignore some really painful orchestration problems we would otherwise have to solve.
Niclas Snellman Vice President of Engineering
  • About Bambuser

    Bambuser provides live mobile video-broadcasting tools and applications its customers can use to create, manage, and distribute mobile video, audio, and photo content live and in high definition.

  • Benefits of AWS

    • Avoided months-long project of building file storage and migration solution from scratch
    • Protected key differentiator of very low latency for live video broadcasts
    • Lowered barriers to entering worldwide markets
    • Moved video servers to the cloud quickly and easily
  • Services Used

The uses and capabilities of live video and audio streaming never stop evolving, but one thing remains constant: broadcasters and viewers are always looking for lower latency.

“To meet their business objectives, our customers need their video broadcast latency to be extremely low—as close to real time as possible,” says Niclas Snellman, vice president of engineering for Bambuser, a provider of real-time mobile content sharing for organizations and app developers. Based in Stockholm, Sweden, and founded in 2007, Bambuser expanded on the success of its initial offering, a free video-sharing social network, by building a product portfolio called Iris—including Iris Dev and Iris Flow—on top of its core live video-streaming technology. These business-to-business offerings help Bambuser customers create, manage, and distribute mobile video, audio, and photo content live and in high definition.

“One of the key differentiators between us and many of our competitors is that we are able to offer very low latency,” says Snellman. “However, doing so is complex and requires us to continuously tune and improve our technology.”

Bambuser initially hosted its live-video-streaming platform in an on-premises data center at its headquarters—which worked well during the company’s early years. As the company’s customer base grew and expanded globally, a new challenge emerged. “To deliver low latency globally, we need to have our servers close to our customers, and that wasn’t possible with the data center we started out with,” says Snellman.

Bambuser decided to pursue a new hosting solution for Iris to make sure it could offer the same very low latency internationally it was already providing closer to home. The company had shifted some development and production workloads to the Amazon Web Services (AWS) Cloud and knew the scalability and worldwide reach of AWS services offered a possible solution. There was just one problem.

“Our customers’ videos need to be available, on demand, in multiple file formats, as soon as the broadcaster presses ‘stop,’” says Snellman. “Creating an automated file-migration process from scratch would have taken months, and creating a system that would serve the videos from the same server that produced them would have been a separate project that would have taken about a month. That wasn’t time we had to spare.”

To be able to shift its video servers to the AWS Cloud without delay, Bambuser needed simple, scalable file storage that could provide a common data source for disparate processes running simultaneously on multiple Amazon Elastic Compute Cloud (Amazon EC2) instances. The file-storage solution would need to integrate seamlessly with Bambuser applications without disrupting existing architectures and workflows.

The Bambuser team avoided the need to build its own automated migration process by adding Amazon Elastic File System (Amazon EFS) to the infrastructure it was building in the AWS Cloud. “As soon as we started evaluating Amazon EFS, we saw instantly that it would overcome all the file-storage challenges we were facing and save us months of setup time,” says Snellman.

Bambuser moved its video servers to the AWS Cloud using a solution that, in addition to Amazon EFS, included Amazon EC2 instances for highly secure, resizable compute capacity, the Amazon CloudFront content-delivery service, Amazon Relational Database Service (Amazon RDS), Amazon Simple Storage Service (Amazon S3) object storage, and AWS Elastic Beanstalk, an easy-to-use service for deploying and scaling web applications. Because AWS operates data centers in 16 geographic regions around the world, with plans to open more, and because most AWS services offer regional endpoints, Bambuser can keep latency low for global customers by locating video servers in nearby data centers around the world and replicating video data to them.

When a Bambuser customer starts broadcasting, a proprietary Bambuser service called Dispatcher (which runs on AWS Elastic Beanstalk) directs the video to a video server for live streaming. Dispatcher writes the video to Amazon EFS, both in its original form and as transcoded into multiple formats, including HTTP Live Streaming (HLS) and MP4, and later migrates it to Amazon S3. The solution uses Amazon CloudFront to serve stored videos to viewers on demand.

Bambuser Architecture Diagram

Bambuser's Amazon EFS architecture diagram.

By adding Amazon EFS to its AWS Cloud infrastructure, Bambuser was able to move its video servers to the cloud quickly and easily, protect its key differentiator of very low latency for live video broadcasts, and lower barriers to entering worldwide markets.

“Because we can connect multiple Amazon EC2 nodes to the same Amazon EFS mount, we’re able to have our video servers writing to Amazon EFS at the same time that our web servers serve the content,” says Snellman. “The common data source provided by Amazon EFS makes things much simpler than if we’d needed to serve the video files from the same servers the videos were streamed to.”

That simplicity translated to valuable time savings when Bambuser was ready to shift to the AWS Cloud. “By taking advantage of Amazon EFS, we avoided about a one-month project of building our own block-storage solution and a separate three-month project of building a file-migration solution,” says Snellman. “Using Amazon EFS allows us to simply ignore some really painful orchestration problems we would otherwise have to solve.”

With an AWS Cloud infrastructure that includes Amazon EFS, Bambuser is better positioned to offer low video-broadcast latency to customers around the world, not just in Scandinavia and Europe. Snellman concludes, “Having access to AWS services in regions around the world removes a major barrier to our international expansion and lays the foundation for our further growth as a company.”

Learn about simple, scalable, and reliable file storage for the AWS Cloud.