So what is Journey anyway?

When people want to understand what Journey is, they often try to compare it to competing products and services they already understand. So they ask questions like:

Is it an appliance? Is it software? Is is a network?

The answer to all of these questions is, “Yes!” Journey is a comprehensive platform of all of these things, and more. Here’s why.

Transmitting live video over the internet is inherently difficult. Because the internet is a conglomeration of many networks, interconnected by links of varying qualities, with a best-effort attitude toward getting data from one place to another. Live video, on the other hand, has a time-critical need for every packet to arrive intact and in order. Square peg, meet round hole.

There Is No Cloud

Did you ever wonder why the visual image of the internet as a cloud is so popular and enduring? It’s because most people don’t need to know about the true complexity of the internet; instead, they are content with a drastically oversimplified conceptual representation of it. They plug their computer into the wall, their data goes into “the cloud,” and magically re-emerges from this “cloud” somewhere else in the world.

Unfortunately, virtually all IP video transport solutions available today don’t treat the internet with much more understanding than that. There are certainly a host of automated techniques to improve transmission quality, such as Automatic Repeat Request (ARQ), Forward Error Correction (FEC), and so on. But these are used in a blind, shotgun-approach fashion that does not intelligently consider the characteristics of the actual internet path in use between the source and destination points. To them, it’s just “the cloud.” This simplistic approach is not enough to meet the total challenge at hand.

Different types of connections to the internet (coax, fiber, cellular, etc.) have different properties, and therefore require different mixtures of FEC, ARQ, traffic shaping, and delay if a connection involving each is to be successful. Most often, a path involves more than one type of connection, requiring a compromise between the optimal recovery protocols for each while in transit from source to destination. Additionally, the path between two distant locations can vary widely based upon each site’s connection to the internet. Given both of these types of variability, some control over the routing between points, and the application of FEC and ARQ, are required. This is a critical point where every “black box” solution comes up short. Enter Journey.

The Journey Difference

The Journey network is comprised of many points of presence across the internet and around the world, with servers ranging from physical appliances colocated in data centers, to cloud instances in geographically diverse areas. The Journey model allows each of these locations to be leveraged on a booking-by-booking basis to optimize the route a feed takes between its source and destination. As an example, a connection between an Amazon AWS Northern California server and an Amazon AWS Northern Virginia server has a better chance of low-latency, high-reliability connectivity than a connection between a residential cable modem in San Francisco and one in Charlotte, NC. Journey can apply a solution where the cable modems connect to each other via a route between the AWS instances, in order to maximize reliability and minimize delay.

Additionally, the individual links in any given path will have very different packet loss profiles. Journey employs a link-by-link approach to packet recovery and maintenance. Every hop along the way recovers traffic separately as it is lost, and has its own set of parameters for FEC and ARQ. So every link gets what it actually needs to be successful, instead of a compromise applied to the path as a whole.

All of this demonstrates why Journey is a fully managed service. The Journey Network Operations Center is staffed 24/7 by technicians who do this every single day, and know the nuances of how the different elements of the internet behave. Instead of a beat-the-internet approach, every single Journey feed is intelligently custom-designed to work with the internet to provide seamless transmission of client video signals, with deterministic latency, and the highest reliability possible.