How does Red5 Pro compare to Wowza? In a word: Favorably.

TLDR: Red5 Pro is faster, scales to more users, doesn’t lock you into a hosting provider and has excellent technical support.

For those looking for a little more info, let’s take a deeper dive:


Latency

As we’ve covered before, latency is a very important aspect of live streaming. By definition, live streaming should be… live. That means having real-time latency.

The majority of live streaming applications require some kind of interactivity. If you are watching a game, you don’t want someone texting you spoilers because they are watching on a faster application. When participating in a live streaming auction, you need to be confident that your bid is going in at the exact time you entered it. Given how fast auctioneers talk, the difference of a few seconds can be an entire paycheck. Even in a conversation, high latency causes long pauses which makes the conversation feel unnatural and difficult to understand.

Red5 Pro was designed to provide the lowest latency possible. Our WebRTC integration results in a guaranteed latency of under 500 ms. That ensures the broadcasters and subscribers are seeing the same thing at nearly the same exact moment to allow for the best experience your users can achieve.

Wowza has also integrated with WebRTC, but they are more reticent to reveal the actual latency you can expect. However, their “Streaming Cloud With Ultra Low Latency” platform distinctly claims a sub-3-second latency. If the latency is measured in seconds, it can never be real-time.

Even worse is this quote from Wowza’s site: "Sending your stream to a Wowza Streaming Cloud ultra low latency target will result in lower latency than if you were to stream to other Wowza Streaming Cloud targets, but it may not meet the sub-three-second latency other streaming workflows can achieve."

In other words, using WebRTC as the publisher, might produce a latency even higher than an already too long 3 seconds.

There’s another big issue (that is to say, it’s not big enough) with Wowza’s WebRTC integration that we will cover in the next section.


Scale

Wowza’s WebRTC solution does not scale. You have to transcode from WebRTC to high latency HTTP streaming formats like Apple HLS, Adobe HDS, or MPEG-DASH. They also suggest using their MSE and WebSockets approach which carries high latency as well.

The root of the supposed scaling “problem” is that WebRTC forms peer to peer connections which (without modification) can get bogged down when multiple connections are needed. Wowza states that Google Chrome limits to 500 concurrent connections and further quotes Tsahi Levent-Levi as recommending no more than 50. While this is all technically true, Red5 Pro broke through that conventional thinking to overcome those restrictions by rethinking and redesigning the entire architecture.

Leveraging cloud infrastructure, Red5 Pro’s Autoscaling Solution enables full scalability into millions of concurrent users. Rather than creating direct peer to peer connections between the broadcaster and subscribers, Red5 Pro configured their architecture so that each WebRTC connection is routed through a server instance (node). Furthermore, the use of relay servers eliminates the issue of 500 concurrent connections in Chrome.

Under the operating logic of a Stream Manager– a Red5 Pro Server Application that manages traffic and monitors server usage– clusters or NodeGroups– a group of one or more active server nodes– are established in the geographic regions where the streaming will be happening.

Each node is a Red5 Pro server instance; either an Edge, Origin or Relay. Broadly speaking, the Origin accepts broadcasters, the Edge accepts subscribers and the relay connects them. The Stream Manager processes live stream information in real-time adding or removing servers depending on current traffic demands. Relays are created between multiple Origins or Edges in order to accommodate additional connections. This allows more users to join and synchronize with the stream without disrupting current viewers.

Most notably, the Autoscaling Solution maintains sub-500 millisecond latency while scaling to millions.

As previously mentioned, Wowza depends upon high latency HTTP protocols or MSE+WebSockets in order to scale. This is due to the fact that their solution is built on top of their CDN network. That leads to the next point:


Hosting Agnostic

Rather than locking you into a hosting platform, Red5 Pro is hosting agnostic. With full out of the box support for AWS, GCP, Azure and DigitalOcean, their flexible API locks into any back-end enabling a great degree of customization. Existing applications can integrate with Red5 Pro to reduce their latency and increase scalability without rehauling the entire architecture.

Wowza, on the other hand, does not provide this high degree of flexibility. Once you have built your application on top of their system you are essentially bound to their platform.  That means that if changes are made to the way in which they deal with things like traffic flow or data usage, then you have little to no control over the potential changes in price and performance.


Features

As we’ve outlined above, there are major issues and limitations to Wowza’s solution. Here are a few more:


  WOWZA RED5 PRO
DATA CHANNEL No support in WebRTC, and there isn’t a way to create a text chat. We created a Shared Objects feature that uses WebSockets in order to perform a similar function.
STREAM QUALITY /CONSISTENCY No support. They don’t support forward error correction, retransmission to support low-bandwidth uses, or RTP error correction. Red5 Pro uses NACK to resend critical packets to ensure a smooth stream.
AUDIO SUPPORT Partially supported. No audio with Google Chrome and Mozilla Firefox. Red5 Pro built the software to automatically convert/transcode between AAC and Opus and back without affecting scaling or latency.
AUDIO QUALITY No support. Wowza claims that audio quality may vary due to browser implementations outside of their control. Red5 Pro supports this.
ABR SUPPORT No support. Red5 Pro supports this.
WEBRTC TRANSCODING No support. Which means that Wowza can't take an RTMP, RTSP, MPEG-TS stream and relay it out over WebRTC for distribution. Red5 Pro supports this.
STUN Limited support. Full support for STUN and TURN.
VP8 AND H.264 TRANSCODING Again, no support. Red5 Pro supports this. Automatic transcoding.



Support

Last, and certainly not least, Red5 Pro was built by a team of live streaming experts. Many of the current support staff were with the company back when it started in 2005 with the reverse engineering of RTMP as an alternative to the expensive Flash Communication Server. This resulted in the Red5 Open Source software which Red5 Pro was built on top of.

Accordingly, the Red5 Pro support staff is more than qualified to address any technical issues as they have built the software from the ground up. When paired with a support plan or custom work contract, this expertise can be harnessed to directly build your application for you or modify your existing one to suit your needs. Even without a premium support plan, you are still gaining access to live streaming experts who pride themselves on their responsive and useful support.

From all appearances, Wowza’s software was not built with flexibility in mind. Those looking for something outside of their very basic functionality, are likely out of luck should take a look at Red5 Pro.

Thus by providing the lowest latency possible, making it fully scalable to millions of concurrent users, remaining hosting agnostic and providing the best possible support, Red5 Pro is the clear winner. Find out more at red5pro.com or schedule a call to chat with one of our team members.

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