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Should You Build or Buy Your Own Interactive 3D Cloud Streaming Platform?

By Chris Jarabek01.09.20
Should you build or buy your own real-time 3D cloud streaming platform?

Back in July, Chevrolet’s launch of the 2020 Corvette was a source of curiosity for other car brands. And this curiosity wasn’t restricted to the automotive industry. Chevy was doing something that interested business leaders in architecture, engineering, manufacturing, retail and beyond – sharing immersive 3D content at scale.

Why was it so compelling? For starters, because the automaker achieved outstanding engagement metrics. But beyond that, what proved most educational was the slight hitch Chevy encountered. The interactive 3D configurator was so popular that the overloaded application downgraded to a 2D version, effectively downgrading the experience to manage the traffic.

In other words, while the project was a success, it could have been better.

This raised an important question for AEC firms, automakers, property developers, and other 3D content distributors:

If we want our real-time 3D experience to have Chevy engagement without a Chevy crash, should we build or buy our own interactive 3D streaming platform

How do you build a real-time 3D streaming platform?

When people talk about “building” an interactive 3D streaming platform, they typically mean composing or coding the applications, services and protocols necessary to allow the distribution of 3D models to a globally distributed audience.

These components include things like GPU infrastructure provisioning and scaling, session scheduling and load-balancing, usage monitoring and analytics, and the streaming protocol itself, to name just a handful.

For most interactive 3D content creators, building a streaming platform can represent a significant amount of undifferentiated heavy lifting.

From a content creation perspective this kind of streaming solution is focused on two milestones:

  1. The completion of an interactive 3D application
  2. The provision of a URL for sharing

The steps that come between these two events are time intensive and critical to a successful deployment.

Amazon Web Services’ AppStream 2.0 is a popular streaming tool for the “build” approach. Content creators and enterprises use this streaming service as part of a broader solution, to deploy and distribute interactive 3D applications.

Read Next: 6 main challenges of interactive 3D streaming (and how your company can solve them)

Once a 3D content agency or architectural visualization firm creates an interactive application, there are several steps to take to get to a URL that can be easily shared with prospects, collaborators, and customers.

These intermediate tasks include:

  • Setting up your network resources
  • Deploying an image builder instance and installing your applications
  • Creating an AppStream 2.0 image, which includes testing, optimizing, and configuring
  • Setting up your fleet of instances
  • Creating an AppStream 2.0 stack

While AppStream’s “build” approach is a valuable resource to people familiar with Amazon Web Services, it requires a significant amount of time and resources from enterprise teams who may not be familiar with AWS, testing, optimizing, or configurations.

In many cases, the people owning the project are in marketing or product development and may not have the domain expertise to extract the most value from this technology.

A subject matter expertise is not the only limitation of the build approach. There are a few critical areas where AppStream comes up short for enterprise-level sharing of 3D content:

  1. Suitability for game engine content. As a general 3D application sharing tool, it’s not specifically designed for content created in game engines like Unreal and Unity.
  2. Scalability and efficiency. It’s not designed for efficient scaling. AWS has a limit of one user per server, potentially leading under-utilization at the instance level, to sub-optimal scaling at the solution level.
  3. Flexibility. AppStream-based platforms must be built using AWS’s streaming protocol and integrations with other software are not possible.
  4. Deployment options. AppStream does not have an on premise option for companies that can’t stream from the cloud due to remoteness or security restrictions.

Coupled with the amount of upfront set-up work required, these limitations pose a problem if your company needs a reliable distribution strategy.

The bottom line: Cloud computing is not your enterprise’s core business, so why commit core resources to it?

With these limitations in mind, what exactly does a fully-managed solution look like?

What makes an interactive 3D streaming platform truly fully managed?

AppStream describes itself as “fully managed”, and in some respects it is since users don’t need to buy or operate any physical hardware or infrastructure. But for enterprises, a fully managed experience must account for both the physical and virtual nuts and bolts of transforming a 3D model into scalable and streamable end-user experience.

With PureWeb’s cloud streaming platform for enterprise 3D applications, marketers, product developers, training simulation creators, and 3D visualization creative agencies don’t have to bother with the intermediate steps mandated by AppStream.

Related Read: 6 reasons why PureWeb is the most powerful streaming platform for real-time 3D

Instead of offering a long and complicated Getting Started Guide, PureWeb takes your interactive 3D models and hands back a URL. Specifically, this means we are:

  • Taking your project and running it through our automated build pipeline, where the PureWeb streaming plugin is integrated into the packaged binary
  • Distributing and configuring your packaged project to our platform end-points in several different AWS regions
  • Working with you to design a scaling policy for your application that takes into account availability, regional performance, and cost efficiency

One of the other benefits of a fully-managed platform is its flexibility, scalability, and reliability. Unlike AppStream, PureWeb enables enterprises to:

  • Deploy their 3D models on premise as well as through the cloud
  • Use an open streaming protocol that leverages WebRTC, designed from the ground-up for high-performance streaming applications
  • Integrate with other software platforms and services, as well as access real-time collaboration tools for 3D models
  • Scale efficiently by allowing multiple concurrent sessions on a single GPU-enabled instance (model performance permitting).

Ultimately, buying a platform ensures your company benefits from the support of experts while you focus on creating brilliant marketing campaigns and photo-real product configurators, virtual showrooms, training simulations and more.

Schedule a meeting here to learn more about PureWeb’s fully-managed interactive 3D streaming solution.