Vuclip: Delivering videos faster, better, and more cost effectively

About Vuclip

Headquartered in Milpitas, California, Vuclip is a leading global media company delivering on-demand entertainment to emerging markets including India, Southeast Asia, Africa, and the Middle East. As a PCCW Media Company, Vuclip properties include Viu, Vuclip Videos, Viu Life, and Vuclip Games.

Industries: Media & Entertainment
Location: United States

After initial testing revealed performance benefits, Vuclip moved its primary SaaS application, video storage, and analytics pipelines to Google Cloud Platform, improving customer experiences, enabling faster reporting, and reducing costs.

Google Cloud Results

  • Enables faster reporting for timely revenue recognition
  • Avoids hiring up to 2 FTEs with managed services

Improves customer experiences with up to 5x faster video uploads

Consumers’ appetite for mobile video content is booming, creating exciting opportunities for video streaming services such as Vuclip. By providing on-demand entertainment on any device, Vuclip has built its leadership at the intersection of technology, consumer insights, and media. The company has quickly grown to serve more than 100 million active customers in 22 countries. More than 10 million customers pay for subscriptions to premium content, while the rest choose an ad-supported delivery model.

Vuclip uses cloud storage to feed its content delivery network, and speed is critical to the user experience. With headquarters in Northern California and its user base in Asia, Vuclip couldn’t always upload videos to Singapore fast enough to immediately deliver the content to customers throughout Asia. As a result, customers could sometimes end up clicking on a video that wouldn’t play, even though the app indicated the content was available.

“We heard that Google had a better network and owned the dark fiber to support it, but we were astonished by the results. In our initial testing, video uploads were 4 to 20 times faster, depending on size. We moved to Google Cloud Storage, reducing our storage costs by 35%.”

Jishnu Kinwar, Vice President Technical Operations, Vuclip

The company initially solved the problem by uploading videos to a Northern California storage bucket and relying on a cloud provider to transfer the data to another storage bucket in Singapore. The approach worked but forced Vuclip to manage two storage buckets and pay two network charges. Vuclip found a better solution with Google Cloud Platform (GCP), testing Google Cloud Storage in the Asia Pacific region.

“We heard that Google had a better network and owned the dark fiber to support it,” says Jishnu Kinwar, Vice President Technical Operations at Vuclip. “But we were astonished by the results. In our initial testing, video uploads were 4 to 20 times faster, depending on size. We moved to Google Cloud Storage, reducing our storage costs by 35%.”

Streamlining customer billing

Meanwhile, Vuclip faced another problem: How to whitelist IP addresses in the cloud for more than 30 telco carrier partners that bill Vuclip’s customers for content viewed. Each carrier needs to know the source IP address that billing requests come from so they can accept data from that address. Because Vuclip runs multiple products on a single SaaS platform instead of separate infrastructures for individual carriers, using traditional firewalls was a challenge. Although Vuclip had repeatedly asked its previous cloud provider for a solution, none came, so its primary SaaS application remained on-premises.

Vuclip explained the problem to Google engineers, who referred Jishnu and his team to Biarca, a Google Cloud Partner. With Biarca’s help, Vuclip was able to do IP whitelisting in GCP, solving a long-standing business problem. The resolution made it possible for Vuclip to move its SaaS application to the cloud to improve scalability and reduce costs.

“Google understood our needs for IP whitelisting, and their engineers were able to quickly point us in the right direction,” says Jishnu. “That’s a very different experience than we had with our other cloud provider. If we hadn’t found a solution, we wouldn’t have been able to move our primary application to the cloud.”

Effortless scalability

Initially, Vuclip ran its SaaS platform on Google Compute Engine virtual machines. However, it quickly moved most of the services to Google Kubernetes Engine, a managed container service, for effortless scalability and faster time to market for updates and features.

“With auto scaling in Google Kubernetes Engine, we don’t need to worry about allocating resources or managing containers,” says Jishnu. “The application manages itself. We also avoided hiring one or two full-time employees with Kubernetes experience, because Kubernetes Engine is entirely managed by Google.”

“We achieved our goal of decoupling business requirements from hardware by using managed services on Google Cloud Platform. Nothing compares to Google BigQuery for our log and business analytics pipelines. Now users can run whatever analytics they want, and IT doesn’t have to be involved.”

Jishnu Kinwar, Vice President Technical Operations, Vuclip

Unlimited serverless analytics

To monitor container logs—a critical aspect of keeping service quality high—Vuclip uses Google managed cloud services to stream analytics, reducing the time to process log data by 90%. It writes log data directly to Google Cloud Pub/Sub, which delivers the event stream to Google Cloud Dataflow for processing and finally to Google BigQuery for scalable, serverless analytics (see Figure 1). Vuclip also built a similar pipeline to process business events. It can better understand how its Google Ads perform, for example, and get answers to business questions in minutes instead of 24 hours later.

Figure 1: Vuclip’s log pipeline on Google Cloud Platform
Figure 1: Vuclip’s log pipeline on Google Cloud Platform

“We achieved our goal of decoupling business requirements from hardware by using managed services on GCP,” says Jishnu. “Nothing compares to Google BigQuery for our log and business analytics pipelines. Now users can run whatever analytics they want, and IT doesn’t have to be involved.”

More timely revenue recognition

Vuclip also uses Google BigQuery to enable faster reporting for timely revenue recognition. Because Vuclip offers different services and billing options, many customers are billed daily. That means there’s a lot of billing going on all the time. If a billing request isn’t received by a carrier or a customer isn’t charged, Vuclip needs to know about it right away. Charging the customer days later is not an option.

By using Google BigQuery to analyze billing data, Vuclip can detect deviations from expected revenue in near real time and either resubmit the billing request or let the carrier know that something is wrong on their end. Either way, Vuclip is reclaiming revenue that would have otherwise been lost.

“We bill millions of customers every day through more than 30 carrier partners,” says Jishnu. “With Google BigQuery, we have the visibility to better manage our brand and avoid leaving money on the table.”

“We bill millions of customers every day through more than 30 carrier partners. With Google BigQuery, we have the visibility to better manage our brand and avoid leaving money on the table.”

Jishnu Kinwar, Vice President Technical Operations, Vuclip

A more productive workforce

To enable its teams to collaborate across offices in Singapore, Indonesia, India, Dubai, and the United States, Vuclip migrated employees to G Suite, replacing a popular office productivity suite and third-party file sharing services. It rebuilt its intranet using Drive for document sharing and used Google Cloud Identity-Aware Proxy to replace cumbersome VPN connections.

“Switching to G Suite and Google Cloud Identity-Aware Proxy has improved productivity, security, and performance for considerably less cost than we previously paid for different services,” says Jishnu.

About Vuclip

Headquartered in Milpitas, California, Vuclip is a leading global media company delivering on-demand entertainment to emerging markets including India, Southeast Asia, Africa, and the Middle East. As a PCCW Media Company, Vuclip properties include Viu, Vuclip Videos, Viu Life, and Vuclip Games.

Industries: Media & Entertainment
Location: United States
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Try Kubernetes Engine, BigQuery, and other Cloud Platform products with $300 in free credit and 12 months.

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