Snipitz is a multi-screen, interactive video platform that allows viewers to watch multiple angles and additional content around sports and entertainment events in a single player, creating a truly customizable experience for live and on demand events. After spending the last few years building the video player and experience, Snipitz had to ensure their solution was highly scalable and production-ready for upcoming events with the Legends of the LPGA in the US and the European Athletics Team Championships in Poland. To prepare, they enlisted the help of DigitalOcean partners Red5 Pro and CTO.ai to deliver streaming video infrastructure at scale.
“At Snipitz we always knew that building a first-of-it’s-kind video player wasn’t going to be easy, however, the teams at DigitalOcean, Red5 Pro and CTO.ai were up for the challenge and share the same vision that the marketplace is calling for a reimagination of digital broadcast. “ - Andrew Lombardi, Snipitz Chief Product Officer
Snipitz was started in 2020 when the founder, Denny Darmo, was watching television with his family and started thinking about how they could all watch the same thing but experience it in a unique way, jumping from stream to stream seamlessly incorporating different views, commentary, and user-generated content. Denny wanted to be able to provide both a truly individualized viewing experience, and the content producer with data on how different streams were performing.
“The first thing that comes to mind when you’re a startup is pricing and flexibility, which is how our development team had landed on DigitalOcean.” - Denny Darmo, Snipitz Founder and CEO
The Snipitz video player was built on DigitalOcean from the start at the recommendation of their small development team, but when they signed a contract with the Legends of the LPGA the team knew they needed help ensuring their infrastructure could handle a large event. Snipitz needed to move fast, as they only had a limited amount of time before the first big test of their application, so they turned to DigitalOcean and its partners for help.
DigitalOcean connected Snipitz with CTO.ai, a cloud-based DevOps platform that companies use to automate their development processes, improve developer experience, and increase developer productivity. With CTO.ai, companies can simplify and accelerate Kubernetes adoption on DigitalOcean. Snipitz also saw that DigitalOcean partnered with Red5 Pro, a real-time video streaming platform. Snipitz knew that in order to improve their infrastructure in a short timeframe, getting help from partners would be the best way possible to save them time and money.
“There became a point where we had revenue coming in and there was a fear that we couldn’t deliver at scale for a large event, with many concurrent users and more than a single stream per user. CTO.ai came in and saw what our current infrastructure was and highlighted the solutions such as DigitalOcean Kubernetes that could scale up and down automatically.” - Andrew Lombardi, Snipitz Chief Product Officer
CTO.ai started by collaborating with Snipitz to understand their software delivery process and application architecture to identify areas of improvement and deliver a software delivery platform that prioritized developer experience. The next step for CTO.ai was to containerize the Snipitz application so that it could run in Kubernetes. By focusing on the application architecture and delivery process, CTO.ai was able to accelerate Snipitz’ adoption of Kubernetes, while their internal development teams could focus on feature delivery. The collaboration with CTO.ai not only met the delivery deadline for the Legends of the LPGA event, it delivered a platform for reliable software delivery across all events and customers.
From a technical perspective, CTO.ai uses Github events to trigger container builds that get uploaded to the DigitalOcean Container Registry, with their data and logs stored in DigitalOcean Spaces. Developers create the DigitalOcean Kubernetes infrastructure using Infrastructure as Code templates provided by CTO.ai, and the development team can interact with everything through Slack. CTO.ai automatically captures all of these events and calculates software delivery and operational performance metrics: DORA metrics.
Prior to the introduction to CTO.ai, the Snipitz development team was struggling with infrastructure setup, spending more time trying to set up a scalable system than developing new features for the player. Now they have a platform for delivering containerized applications to DigitalOcean Kubernetes and an improved developer experience.
“Because CTO.ai automatically captures DORA metrics, we can see that our development team’s lead time to change has already improved 45% and deployment frequency has increased 33%. We now have metrics on our performance and how it’s changing over time" - Andrew Lombardi, Snipitz Chief Product Officer
“Using CTO.ai to build and deploy through Slack is a great experience. It gives us confidence to deliver.” - Leo Nap, Snipitz Director of Software Development
Snipitz also needed to improve their latency and make sure all screens were in sync—if the platform had any lagging, viewers switching from screen to screen would have a poor experience and likely not use the player, so low latency was critical. To do this, they worked with Red5 Pro, a real-time streaming platform that lets developers distribute live video and audio at scale. Red5 Pro ensured the player had near real-time latency and that streams were synchronized when viewers switched screens.
“Red5 Pro solved the major issue of latency and sync which is important for live events for multiple reasons. In the case of the European Athletics Team Competitions in Poland, there were 5 channels showing different events, Red5 Pro made it possible to not only have seamless switching from screen to screen, but our latency from live in Poland to viewers in the US was less than 3 seconds! In a side-by-side, real-time test we ran an alternate player not using Red5 Pro technology, and the latency varied from 30 to 90 seconds. ” - Andrew Lombardi, Snipitz Chief Product Officer.
Snipitz installed Red5 Pro’s Streaming Manager, which in turn manages and deploys a cluster of Droplet virtual machines. The full solution leverages DigitalOcean Kubernetes, DigitalOcean Spaces, the DigitalOcean Container Registry, and DigitalOcean Managed Databases, along with Red5 Pro’s streaming player and CTO.ai’s SaaS platform to automate the deployment with best practices.
Before their live debut, Snipitz knew they had to test the infrastructure at scale, so again turned
to partners Red5 Pro and CTO.ai. The team used the open source Bees with Machine Guns load testing tool, which leverages headless Chrome instances to generate a large number of WebRTC subscribers. The test involved five 2500Kbs streams published to the Red5 Pro cluster. With 50,000 concurrent subscribers on their platform, Snipitz’s application passed the capacity test with flying colors.
“What was unique about the partnership we’ve all built was that after automating the deployment of Snipitz’ DigitalOcean environment using CTO.ai workflows, we then helped support the Snipitz team in containerizing the application. This set us up for a successful customization phase to automate deployment of the Red 5 Pro cluster with auto-scaling, which we used to test our baseline success metrics ahead of the Legends of the LPGA event. We were able to validate with Red5 Pro and DigitalOcean running 50,000 + users on 5 different streams.” - Sami Atiq, Customer Success at CTO.ai
When the time came for Snipitz’s live event with the Legends of the LPGA, the interactive video platform performed seamlessly. Although the game play time was affected by weather, the two day event with 4 screens turned out to be a great experience for all watchers. Thanks to our support teams at CTO.ai and Red5 Pro, the Legends of the LPGA and the European Athletic Team Championships watched their events for the first time in a new reimagined broadcast.
The partnership with CTO.ai and Red5 Pro has helped Snipitz create a scalable and low-latency video platform, all while organizing their infrastructure and enabling their developers to ship faster with fewer distractions. They also gained valuable insights into Kubernetes, which will help them manage and scale their platform effectively in the future.
The combined force of DigitalOcean, CTO.ai, and Red5 Pro has also provided Sniptiz with hands-on support as they build their video platform and ensure it’s ready to scale up. Snipitz appreciates DigitalOcean’s focus on helping them grow, and their ecosystem of partners who can provide an extra layer of help.
“I’ve worked on other products with many partners, including AWS, and was never satisfied with the amount of support. Being able to have a direct line with DigitalOcean takes so much pressure off of trying to figure out things last second. DigitalOcean makes it affordable and the support has been phenomenal. We look forward to offering Snipitz to content owners large and small now, knowing that we can scale like no other video platform can.” - Andrew Lombardi, Snipitz Chief Product Officer
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Snipitz is a multi-screen, interactive video platform that allows viewers to watch multiple angles and additional content around sports and entertainment events in a single player. They worked with DigitalOcean and partners Red5Pro and CTO.ai to create a scalable, low-latency video solution.
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